USLTC Health Committee

Executive Survey:

The electronic medical record database consisting of Lakeland terrier office visits seen between 2010 and 2020 was obtained from a national veterinary corporation consisting of over 1,000 veterinary hospitals. Three hundred and eighty individual Lakelands were included, and 1,700 possible genetic diagnoses identified. Redundant reportings (same individual, same diagnosis) were excluded and thirty-seven possible genetic conditions were diagnosed. No genetic diseases in this Lakeland terrier study group occurred at a higher rate than found in the general dog population.


A common goal of any breed club is to safeguard the genetic strength of their breed, particularly in a small population breed. Collection of health information across this population can be difficult to accurately accumulate. Often this data collection is accomplished with an owner health survey. These surveys have inherent weaknesses, including survey return rates, confidentiality issues, only surveying club members not all owners, has a particular diagnosis been confirmed or was it suggested by the veterinarian, etc. all making the survey results of limited value.

The health committee decided to try a novel approach and interrogate the electronic medical database of a large national veterinary corporation1.
The purpose of this study was to identify any significant (incidence levels occurring above the general dog population) genetic issues in the United States Lakeland terrier breed.


The standardized electronic medical records from a national veterinary corporation, with over 1,000 veterinary hospitals throughout the United States, employing over 3,600 veterinarians was acquired encompassing Lakeland terrier office visits during the 2010 through 2020-time frame. This data base included the medical records of 6,762 individual veterinary office visits.

The data set included the following: Pet ID, Pet Visit number, Visit date, Breed, Gender, Age in days, Age in years, Weight, and Diagnostic description. Using the pet ID number 380 individual Lakeland terriers were responsible for this data set.

This data set was reviewed and visits that had a diagnosis of healthy pet, dental tartar, vaccine visit, overweight, spay and neuter and other routine diagnosis of non-genetic diseases were removed. This process reduced the number of visits with possible genetic diseases to 1,700 diagnoses. Each diagnosis was counted once, if a dog had a heart murmur for example it would be diagnosed in the initial visit and all subsequent visits. Therefore, once a condition was identified initially it was not recounted in subsequent visits for that dog.

Results: (Reported as number affected as a percentage of 380 individuals)

Behavior issues – 10%

  • Aggression – 7 cases
  • Fear/anxiety – 16 cases
  • Separation anxiety – 15 cases
  • Cognitive dysfunction – 1 case
  • Undetermined brain disorder – 3 cases

Seizures – 3%
KCS (dry eye) – 2.8%
Glaucoma – 1%
Hepatopathy (liver) – 6.8%
Diabetes Mellitus – 2.9%
Colitis – 1.3%
Inflammatory bowel syndrome – 1%
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis – 3.9%
Enteritis – 2.6%
Pancreatitis – 6.27
Pancreatic insufficiency – 0.3%
Bladder stones – 0.6%
Chronic renal failure – 3.1%

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia – 0.6%
Leukemia – 0.3%
Cryptorchid – 1%
Prostatic hypertrophy – 1.3%
Neoplasia – 1%
Dermal growths – 14.1%
Histiocytoma – 0.3%
Atopy 6.7%
Generalized dermatitis – 0.8%
Alopecia – 3%
Alopecia X – 0.6%
Cardiac murmurs – 3%
Cardiomyopathy – 0.3%
Cardiac arrhythmia – 0.3%
Patellar luxation – 5%
Legg-Calve-Perthes – 0.3%
Osteopathy – 1.2%
Intervertebral disc disease – 0.3%
Anterior cruciate ligament tear – 0.3%



Aggression, fear, anxiety, and separation anxiety can have a genetic basis. However, significant socialization issues could impact the incidence and severity of these behavioral problems.


The data set does not indicate if this diagnosis is based upon liver biopsy or is speculated from elevated hepatic enzymes identified on serum chemistries. Elevated serum chemistries could be elevated from a variety of disease conditions, medications, and environmental causes. Therefore, care should be taken not to extrapolate that these “hepatopathy” cases are necessarily genetic issues.

KCS “Dry Eye”:

11 individual dogs had this diagnosis. Three of these dogs were over 14 years of age and one had Diabetes Mellitus which could be contributors to this medical condition. Two cases were under 2 years old, much more suspicious of an underlying genetic condition.


A total of 4 dogs involved. However, two of these dogs were over the age of 14 years. Two cases were 2 years old; it is undetermined if these were genetic or traumatic in origin.

Diabetes Mellitus:

This incidence rate is surprisingly low in this obese study population.

Cardiac murmur:

Only one case under the age of 2 years. Six cases between the ages of 4 to 10 years, and four cases over 10 years. The young case could be genetic the remaining most likely secondary to dental disease which was also high in the data set.

Enteritis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, colitis, and pancreatitis:

This study group had a significant population which was obese predisposing them to gastrointestinal issues.

Prostatic hypertrophy:

Not surprising in a population with old intact male dogs.

Possible weaknesses in this study are differences in the subjective opinions of the individual veterinarians (I think [subjective] vs I know [objective e.g., biopsy results]). Additionally it is assumed that the study group of dogs is reflective of the general Lakeland terrier population. Lakeland terrier breeders can be in isolated regions of the country, if the veterinary corporation did not have a hospital in the area, then genetic issues in this population may not be identified in this study. Some diagnoses used in the corporate data base are less defined than optimal. For example, “hepatopathy” could be cirrhosis, hepatitis (bacterial or viral), cancer, biliary disease, hyperadrenocorticism, among other others. This issue had no impact in this study as the additive incidence of hepatopathy was low.

An advantage this study had over a member health survey is that dogs not belonging to members of the United States Lakeland Terrier Club are included. This could include puppy mills, or breeders with limited training in genetics or health issues.

None of the identified possible genetic conditions identified in the study occurred in Lakeland terriers more prominently than the general dog population. Therefore, no effort was taken to ascertain if these conditions occurred more in one sex or the other.

The incidence of these conditions in the general dog population were not listed in the results, since there are a variety of veterinary diagnostic data bases with some deviation of “normal” prevalences. The Lakeland terrier population incidences were compared to these databases and if within the normal range of any of these database was considered within the normal limits.


The national study group of 380 Lakeland terrier veterinary visit records does not identify any genetic diseases occurring at a higher rate than the general dog population.

1.Banfield Veterinary Corporation, 18101 SE 6th Way, Vancouver, Washington 98683