Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy or JLPP for short is a systemmic neurological disorder that affects certain dog breeds specifically, and which is a hereditary health condition that is passed on from parent dogs to their litters rather than by means of contagion.
This very serious condition cannot be treated or cured, and generally proves fatal before affected dogs reach their first birthday, significantly affecting their comfort and quality of life during this time if the condition is permitted to progress. For this reason, euthanasia of affected pups is generally the kindest option, due to the serious and systemic effects that the condition has, and the fact that there is no cure.
As a hereditary health condition, it is important for the breeders and potential buyers of dogs from breeds that are known to have risk factors for juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy to understand how the condition is inherited and passed on, and how to ensure that you only breed or buy healthy puppies.
In this article, we will look at juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy in dogs in more detail, covering what breeds are at risk, how the condition is inherited, and what testing protocols are in place for the condition. Read on to learn more.
Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy is a neurological disorder that is not contagious, and that can only be passed from dog to dog by means of heredity. The condition has a systemic effect on the dog’s nervous system, beginning with the longest nerve pathways, such as the nerve that support the musculature of the dog’s larynx or voice box.
This means that the first symptom of the condition’s presence is often paralysis or muscle weakness of the larynx, which can lead to problems eating and drinking without either choking or aspirating food, and also, noisy breathing due to the slackness and vibration of the vocal cords. Exercise intolerance is apt to accompany the condition from the early stages, and aspiration of food and water also brings with it a heightened risk of pneumonia.
However, this is just the beginning-JLPP then progressively spreads downwards via the other long nerves of the body, with the nerves that support the muscles of the hind limbs usually being affected next. This causes weakness in the hind limbs that tends to lead to problems walking and moving around normally, and tremors and shakiness when standing up or moving around. The front limbs will follow, making it very hard for the dog to move around, and then the disease continues to affect the rest of the body’s nerve pathways in short order.
Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy usually begins to display its first symptoms not long after puppies are first weaned, and most breeders will soon realise that something is amiss. The condition then progresses quickly, with few pups suffering with the condition living past their first birthdays, and often dying or being euthanised much earlier than this.
Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy is a hereditary condition that has been found to occur in certain UK breed lines of the Russian terrier and Rottweiler respectively, with the Rottweiler being the breed considered to be most at risk due to the comparative rarity of the Russian terrier.
Both males and females are equally likely to be affected in the at-risk breeds, and the first presentations of the condition occur in young dogs, often those not much past weaning age.
Juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy is passed down through the breed line of affected dogs by means of autosomal recessive heredity, and knowing the status of the condition in the two respective parent dogs permits breeders to accurately predict the subsequent status of the litter produced by any given match.
Dogs are referred to by a status of either clear, affected or carrier, with carrier dogs able to pass the condition on to their own offspring without being affected themselves. JLPP’s heredity can be outlined as follows:
Because dogs affected by the condition rarely live past their first birthdays, generally the problem of breeding affected dogs is not an issue. However, because carrier status in the parent dogs can produce both further carriers and also affected dogs, the condition can still realistically be passed on.
DNA testing for the presence of the condition and to identify a dog’s status are strongly recommended prior to breeding dogs of the two affected breeds, and in order to ensure clear pups, only clear parents should be bred. However, due to the limited number of unrelated dogs in the given breed’s gene pools, in some cases, a decision is made to breed a carrier with a clear dog with the proviso of neutering carriers from the subsequent litter or taking great care to ensure that they in turn are only bred to clear dogs.
If you are considering buying a pup from one of the breeds known to be at risk of JLPP, it is important to ask the breeder about their pre-breeding health screening protocols, and the results-and so, the status of the pup you might be thinking about buying.
Purchasing a carrier means that your own pup will be healthy themselves-however, you should not use a carrier for breeding without ensuring the status of the other dog, and being prepared to test the subsequent litter so that you can ensure that the future breed lines are not impacted.