Welsh Terrier Health Information and Links

We have been fortunate to have enjoyed relatively good health for over one hundred years as a breed.  Unfortunately no breed is without health concerns, and we also have a few areas that fanciers should be watching for.  The goal of this section of my website is to provide you with more information, what questions to ask, and where to look for more information.  As others provide links and information, I will try to update my site to reflect this.

This is an important topic to me.  I (Larisa Hotchin) have been an active member of the Health Committee of the Welsh Terrier Club of America (WTCA) for a number of years now.  Michael and I helped develop the on-line health incident and death report for the WTCA, and I write an annual update for the WTCA newsletter on the topic. 

(reports are received annonymously, unless you provide your contact information)

I always tell new prospective owners that any dog, of any breed, can develop almost any disease. 

However, some diseases occur at a higher incidence levels in certain breeds.  It seems like from many reports that I have seen that the few diseases reported in Welsh Terriers occur at no greater incidence than they do in any other breed at risk for the condition (Epilepsy, PLL & Glaucoma, Allergic Skin Condition, and Low Thyroid are noted on the Welsh Terrier Association and Welsh Terrier Club of America documents).  However, some diseases can now be avoided through DNA testing, and others reduced through responsible breeding, food and environmental information about pedigrees and appropriate testing. 

As an active breeder-member of the Welsh Terrier Club of America, I follow very closely what our breed club recommends in the area of managing our dogs.  I recognize that my actions as a breeder (and being active, and successful, in the conformation show ring) I am directly contributing to the health of our breed.  I take my role of being a steward of the breed that I love very seriously and, I believe, very responsibly.  This is what ALL breeders should do.  I recommend that all owners, and prospective owners, educate themselves as to what tests breeders are doing - and NOT doing - ask more questions.

Welsh Terrier Club Links for Health Related Information

1.    Welsh Terrier Club of America    -    Click here for the health section of the WTCA website.
       Some good links and articles.

2.    Welsh Terrier Association (UK)    -    Click here for WTA Health Page

3.    Welsh Terrier Club (UK)    -    Click here for the Welsh Terrier Club (UK) Health Page 

There are a few specific diseases that have specific incident statistics for, or they are issues that seem to have come up in member discussions and on-line forums.  I'll update this section over time, as I get more information, and have more available information to provide relevant links to.  Some of these are genetic (based on the breeding lines), some are environmental, and some are not well understood in general.

These diseases include (links included):
-    Primary Lens Luxation (PLL), which leads to secondary Glaucoma and blindness
-    Low Thyroid (hypothyroidism)
-    Allergic Skin Condition
-    Epilepsy and/or seizures in general
-    Megaegaesophagus (typically would affect breeders for baby puppies)

- More links on the WTCA website (click here)

PLL:  Primary Lens Luxation 
(25% general carrier rate in the WT breed)

*Note: this eye disease leads to Glaucoma symptoms and blindness

In Sept 2009 a breakthrough discovery was found - a gene mutation for PLL was identified and a simple and inexpensive DNA test (cheek swab) made available to the public.   This is offered through the OFA (links below for specifics).  While any breed can take this test, the Welsh Terrier (along with many other Terriers, as well as many other breeds) are specifically singled out and identified as breed that are recommended to take this test.  I have tested all of my 'breeding stock' and/or important dogs in my breeding history as of writing this page (and many others as shown on the website), and I will never breed two carriers together, which would put the puppies at potential risk to be affected.  I follow the strict protocols and recommendations of the scientists behind this gene test.

The test costs $65US.  It is ordered on-line and is available for any Welsh Terrier anywhere in the world.  It is a simple cheek swab and the results identify whether your dog is "Affected / At Risk"; "Carrier" or "Normal".   


**NOTE:  All normal/clear dogs tested are identified on the OFFA public database, if a dog is a carrier or affected status, the owner must OPT-IN to identify or name the dog.  At the time of writing this, approximately 25% of all tested welsh terriers on the OFFA database are either carriers or affected status, but only about one-half of those are actually named and identifed.  Your breeder should be able to provide a certificate of what the sire and dam are tested for.

It is important to note that carriers should not necessarily be removed from breeding programs (the OFFA and the WTCA Health Committee has specifically noted this in their breed club recommendation), given that we have a relatively small gene pool.  This is also noted on the University that does the test, website.  However, it is obviously recommended that 2 dogs carrying the gene (ie. carriers) NOT be bred together.

This test was made available in 2009.  At the end of 2018, a total of 337 Welsh Terriers have been tested (in the US database).  As of Dec 2018,  25% are CARRIERS and 75% are CLEAR / NORMAL.  If you are a breeder, this is a very important, and easy, test to do.  Remember, there is no cause to worry if your dog is a carrier, BUT DO NOT BREED 2 CARRIERS TOGETHER.



CLICK HERE to go to the OFA site to learn how to order a DNA test


CLICK HERE for information from the University of Missouri PLL DNA test


CLICK HERE to learn more about general DNA Tests from OFA