How Healthy is the Leonberger?

    The Leonberger has many of the same diseases that every other breed has
    plus a few of its own. It has a relatively small gene pool and all Leos go
    back to just a handful of “founders.” Mutations in the genes of the dog and
    human are common, and presently there are only a few carrier tests available
    even for human diseases. Until recently there has been no way for breeders to
    acquire the information to prevent diseases in dogs anymore than in humans. Thanks to our wonderful
    Leonberger community, in June 2010  our reseachers at the U of Minn. and the U of Bern had a huge
    breakthrough. They found the mutated gene causing one of the  Leonberger polyneuropathies that our
    Leos can get- LPN1. In July 2014  they found the second  mutation-LPN2. The LEMP  mutation was in
    2017.We now have a genetic test for 3  mutations and  can prevent 2 types of  polyneuropathy and a
    central nervous system disease  in our offspring with informed breeding decisions. Researchers are still
    searching for the genes that cause LPN3  in the Leo, so for now it is still a chance we have to take
    when we decide to share our lives with a Leo.

    LCA breeding dogs all have a CHIC #  which provides results obtained from LCA required health testing
    before they are bred. You can find the parents of your puppies on the  CHIC site  This enables breeders
    to know where some of the strengths and weaknesses are in their dogs' genes and to choose mates
    who will not double-up on bad genes.  All LCA breeding dogs are required to have passing hips. Other
    test results, both passing and not passing are posted on CHIC as well. All dogs carry bad genes as well as
    good but knowing that helps breeders make conscientious decisions when looking for a mate who does
    not have the same bad genes their dog may carry.

    Having a puppy whose parents do not have hip dysplasia does not guarantee that the puppy will not
    get hip dysplasia  as it is a polygenic trait (not a single gene,  each parent contributes a number of
    them to the offspring).  It would have disappeared years ago if it was easy to eliminate! Like most
    diseases without a genetic test, breeders can only try to prevent it by common sense breedings. OFA
    guidence says; "Breed normals to normals;  Breed normals with normal ancestry; "Breed normals from
    litters with low incidence of HD; Select sires that produce a low incidence of HD and replace breeding
    dogs with offspring who are better than the breed average."

    Hypothyroidism shows up sometimes, usually in middle-aged Leos, but is easy and economical to
    control if it does. We recommend that our owners screen their dogs for hypothyroidism  at two
    years old and at 2 year intervals over their lives. It would be my advice to owners of any large breed
    dog if they would like to see their dog remain healthy.

                                                         We can not prevent human diseases  so please don't  assume
                                                         breeders have a magic formula for preventing dog diseases either.
                                                         We try our best but life has no guarantees. Mother Nature is
                                                         smarter than all of us.  Leos are a pretty healthy breed but realistic
                                                         expectations are required.
                                       
    As is the case with most very large breeds, Leonbergers are not long lived. The average life
    span, per the last health survey done by the LCA, is 6 1/2yrs. for males and 7 1/2 yrs. for females. I
    know per our own Longevity Study in our own lines, it is probably closer to 8-9 years. Although we
    are all striving for longevity, remember that anything past 8 is icing on the cake. Don’t buy a Leo
    expecting it to live to be 10 or 11 because it probably will not.  Be realistic. All Leos come with both
    the good and the bad traits and health issues of their ancestors. If you can't live with those
    possibilities you should look into another breed.  From our standpoint, we feel it is well worth
    the risks.

Cherrywood Kennels
PUPPY PACK: How Healthy?
Grafton, OH 44044 | cell 440-328-5647| cherrywoodleos@yahoo.com
25 Years of Photos