What is this health thing in Wheatens?

Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are healthy dogs with an average life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years and sometimes greater. Genetic predisposition, proper health care, nutrition and exercise, all influence a wheaten's longevity and quality of life.Aimee is Cz

Hereditable protein losing diseases and renal dysplasia have been identified in an increasing number of dogs in Australia and the US. Irish type wheatens though have not been affected. The only demonstrable way  to address health issues in the breed is to only breed healthy dogs, as suggested by Dr Littman (see quote to the right). By using the term 'outcrossing' some breeders are really referring to a 'fingers crossed' approach that that has no scientific basis. "Let's breed to healthy lines and see"! The best science to hand tells us NOT to breed close relatives of affected dogs, whether outcrossed or otherwise!

The information found on this web site is provided  to ensure full disclosure to prospective puppy buyers. This information is provided as a guide for new owners and those interested in the breed and is my opinion. No responsibilty will be accepted for errors and omissions. 

PLE / PLN - Protein Losing diseases.

Recent American veterinary research has identified two possibly genetically transmitted conditions that can affect the Softcoated Wheaten Terrier. These issues are more common in Wheatens from an American background than their Irish cousins. (Please refer to this site, www.scwtca.org   for more commentary on PLE / PLN in American Wheatens). These condtions are called PLE and PLN, and it occurs in up to 30% of American wheatens. Protein Losing Nephropathy (PLN) is characterised by an atypical loss of protein through the kidneys. Protein Losing Enteropathy (PLE) is similarly characterised by an atypical loss of protein, in this instance through the intestinal tract. See this site for more information. Both these diseases cause premature death. The mode of inheritance of these diseases is not known. Parents that are health tested can still produce affected offspring. If tested for and identified early, veterinary management has some success in providing care for affected dogs. Dogs affected, or those with affected dogs in their pedigree, or dogs in their pedigree that have produced affected dogs, should not be bred from.
"The SCWTCA Health Committee recommends that close relatives of dogs affected with PLN, PLE or RD not be bred and that excessive in-breeding be avoided" 
To breed from affected dogs or dogs closely related to affected dogs (outcrossed or otherwise), breeches the code of ethics of both the ANKC and the AKC as quoted above. Dogs with predominantly American pedigrees, with no Irish lines, are more at risk of these diseases - please  discuss this with your breeder before you buy a wheaten!

Renal Dysplasia (RD or JRD)

Veterinary research has also identified that Renal Dysplasia (RD) or Juvenile Renal Disease as it is known in the US, the abnormal development of the kidney, has occured in some Wheatens, initially from a European background and those from America. This malformation in the kidney can result in early kidney failure causing the premature death of a dog. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a breed with a known inherited (genetic) basis for RD. The blood and urine screen referred to above is helpful in idenitifying RD in it's early stage as is a renal ultrasound. All our breeding dogs have been ultrasounded and certified clear of RD. We have also DNA banked our breeding dogs. For more information see here. Affected dogs should not be bred from.

Other Issues

Wheatens can also suffer from Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism) which is characterised by insufficient production and secretion of hormones by the adrenal gland cortex, and eye disorders. Hip and elbow dysplasia has also occurred in Wheatens, hence our breeding stock is tested with the PennHip and OFA program to ensure they are clear of issues. Discuss these issues with your breeder.

For more Information

For more information regarding the "Research Services and Programs" for Softcoated Wheaten Terriers please refer to NC State University: College of Veterinary Medicine in the US. For more information including a health testing protocol for wheatens please refer to the health section of Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America website. Note that this section relates more specifically to dogs from an American lineage, as PLE /PLN is uncommon in Irish and English wheatens, see theBritish Wheaten Club site for confirmation of this.

The original source of this information is plagiarized, with permission, from www.scwt.net