English toy terrier hereditary health and longevity

English toy terrier hereditary health and longevity

Health & Safety

The English toy terrier (black and tan) is a petite, lean little dog from the terrier grouping. They stand between 10-12” tall in height, and weigh just 6-8lb, making them one of the smallest breeds of dog, and one that was actually used for sport as a ratting dog in Victorian England.

They can only be seen in black and tan colour, with markings similar to that of the much larger Doberman pinscher. They are lively, loving and fun little dogs, which tend to be fairly noisy and not shy to bark!

The English toy terrier is no longer widely owned within the UK, and is in fact classed as one of the UK’s vulnerable native dog breeds by the UK Kennel Club. In order to promote ownership of the breed and increase their numbers, The Kennel Club has now opened a stud book, permitting the closely related toy Manchester terrier to be registered as the English toy terrier, assuming that the dog fulfils all of the breed standard requirements for registration.

If you are interested in buying an English toy terrier and helping to promote the viability of the breed in the future, it is of course vital to do plenty of research first, and ensure that the breed is the right choice for you. This includes finding out about the genetic diversity and hereditary health of the breed, which we will cover in more detail in this article. Read on to learn more.

English toy terrier longevity

The average lifespan of the English toy terrier across the breed is 12-13 years, and it is not uncommon for dogs of the breed to live to around 15. This average lifespan figure places the English toy terrier around the middle of the rankings in terms of longevity for dogs of a similar size and build.

Genetic diversity within the English toy terrier breed

The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the English toy terrier is 11.1%, which is slightly higher than the 6.25% or lower that is considered to be the ideal for pedigree dogs. This means that the English toy terrier is subjected to a reasonable amount of inbreeding in order to keep the breed viable, which is a natural effect of the fact that dogs of the breed are not numerous. Breeders of the English toy terrier are advised to keep the coefficient of inbreeding figure as low as possible within their own breed lines, and to seek to reduce the average figure where possible.

Health tests for the English toy terrier

The conformation of the English toy terrier is considered to be well balanced, healthy and fit for life, and not apt to pose any particular problems for the dog in and of itself.

However, like all pedigree breeds, the English toy terrier is prone to certain hereditary health problems that can cause problems for the dog, and pre-breeding health tests and health screening is available for some of these. Veterinarians and English toy terrier breed clubs recommend testing for the following conditions prior to breeding:

  • Von Willebrand’s disease, a bleeding disorder that causes poor clotting, and is similar to haemophilia, but can affect dogs of either sex.
  • Testing for patellar luxation, a condition where the kneecap of the dog is not well secured, and has a tendency to dislocate.
  • BAER testing for hereditary deafness within certain breed lines.

Other health issues within the breed

As well as the three conditions mentioned above that can be identified in breed lines by means of testing, there are several other health issues that have a hereditary element to them that are also found within English toy terrier breed lines. Currently, no tests are available to identify a propensity to such conditions prior to their presenting themselves within the dog. These conditions include:

  • Demodetic mange, a skin condition caused by the presence of a certain type of mites. This condition can be treated with veterinary assistance, but it does have a propensity to recur.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, which causes degeneration of the head of the femur of the hip joint, leading to lameness and significant amounts of pain.
  • A tendency to feel the heat and be particularly sensitive to hot weather, which places the dog at risk of heat stroke and being unable to maintain a cool enough temperature.
  • Various different conditions of the eye that can present themselves at different stages of life, including glaucoma and primary lens luxation. Cataracts are also found within the breed, but these usually do not become apparent until maturity.

While there is no way of testing to diagnose any of these conditions prior to their becoming apparent, finding out about the health of the parent dogs, and ideally the grandparents too can help you to select a puppy that is less likely to suffer from problems than those from breed lines known to be affected by them.



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