Although Lancashire Heelers are a mainly healthy breed often living well into their teens, here you will find health news and links to sites that can give you more information on conditions that may affect the breed.
Before buying a Lancashire Heeler it is important to find out whether the parents of the dog have been health tested. All responsible breeders will know the status of their dogs before breeding and certificates should be available for you to see. Don't be fooled by a breeder who says their dogs do not have problems, so they don't need testing, as they have no way of knowing without carrying out certain tests. With effect from 1.7.11 it is a KC requirement that Accredited Breeders must have their dogs DNA tested for PLL before breeding.
Listed below are several conditions that can affect the eyes of a Lancashire Heeler. The breeder of your dog should have explained why it is important to have your dog eye tested at least every 12 months. This must be done by a specialist eye vet, who has the proper equipment to carry out an in depth examination. If you notice any changes in your dog's eyes, such as inflammation, weeping or red eyes, change of colour or if your dog has got one or both eyes closed then you need to have him examined without delay by your vet, who will probably refer you to a specialist. Urgent treatment may be necessary otherwise it is possible your dog may lose his sight.
Keep a note of your vets telephone number in a prominent place at home and in the glove box of your car.
Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)
This is the most important condition. If your dog has not been DNA tested for Primary Lens Luxation you can request a test kit consisting of cheek swabs, which then have to be submitted to the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket. They will carry out the test and the results will be emailed to you, and also published on the Kennel Club website. The results will show whether the dog is clear, affected or a carrier of the condition. If you are unlucky enough to have an affected dog, there is lots of information available to help you through this difficult time. Many dogs have lived a relatively normal life even though affected, sometimes with the adminstering of eye drops on a daily basis, whilst some can be operated on to remove the lens, and others might need no further treatment for quite some time. In a very few cases carrier dogs can go on to become affected, and the Animal Health Trust are continuing their research into why this might happen. Some dogs may be certified as 'hereditarily clear' which means both parents have got clear certificates, so the puppies should not be affected.
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)
This condition may be detected at the puppy litter screening stage as it is congenital (present at birth). Whilst it does not usually affect the dog in any way care should be taken to ensure the condition is not passed on and there is a DNA test available for it. It is a KC recommendation that Accredited Breeders have their dogs DNA tested for CEA before breeding.
Hereditary Cataract (HC)
This is being investigated at present and although cases are few and far between it can be an unpleasant condition resulting in loss of sight. No test is available as yet, so openness on the part of owners of affected dogs is the only tool we have at present.
Persistant Pupillary Membrane (PPM)
As puppies develop, sometimes there are remnants of tissue remaining in the eye which have the appearance of cobwebs. Quite often these have disappeared by the time a dog is eye tested as an adult, but monitoring is important especially if you intend to breed from your dog.
The patella is the equivalent of the kneecap and a luxating patella is one that moves out of its normal location.
It is usually, but not always, found in small breeds. Several affected Lancashire Heelers have been reported lately, some requiring surgery. Although some cases are the result of accidents, most researchers believe it to be inherited, though the mode of inheritance is not known. Hopping or skipping are often indications of patella luxation. Some countries have an official testing scheme and the BVA is examining the possibility of introducing one in this country.