Leukoencephalomyelopathy (LEMP) DNA health testing for the rottweiler dog breed

Leukoencephalomyelopathy (LEMP) DNA health testing for the rottweiler dog breed

Health & Safety

The Rottweiler is a large, muscular dog breed that tends to make people stop and take notice when they walk by, and these stocky, well-padded dogs have historically been widely used as watchdogs, guard dogs and within working security roles of all varieties.

Rottweilers with a job tend to take their responsibilities very seriously, and can be trained to follow all manner of commands and execute a number of roles very effectively. This is because they place a lot of trust in their handlers and work hard to please them, and take direction very well. Rottweilers have been portrayed in the media in many situations as aggressive dogs that are quick to anger and prone to being dominant, but this is far from the truth of the matter.

Rottweilers are loyal and protective of their families, but they are also highly affectionate dogs that are very trustworthy and reliable in temperament, and that are by no means aggressive or unpredictable by nature.

Like all established pedigree dog breeds, there are a number of hereditary health problems that can affect dogs of the rottweiler breed, which are passed on from dog to dog though the breed line. Some of these conditions can be tested for within breed stock by means of DNA screening, which allows rottweiler breeders to identify the risk factors within their parent stock, and choose healthy mating matches.

One hereditary rottweiler health problem that can be diagnosed with a DNA test is called leukoencephalomyelopathy (or LEMP for short), and this is a type of hereditary disease of the nervous system that can be found within some rottweiler breed lines.

If you are considering breeding from your rottweiler, it is wise to undertake DNA testing for leukoencephalomyelopathy in your parent stock prior to deciding on a mating match.

In this article we will explain how rottweiler leukoencephalomyelopathy affects dogs, how it is inherited, and how to get a DNA test for rottweiler leukoencephalomyelopathy too. Read on to learn more.

What is leukoencephalomyelopathy in the rottweiler?

Leukoencephalomyelopathy is quite the tongue twister, so you might hear the condition referred to as LEMP for short. This is a type of hereditary health condition that affects the dog’s central nervous system, and which occurs due to a specific genetic mutation that distinguishes LEMP from variants found across other dog breeds.

A rottweiler with leukoencephalomyelopathy will display symptoms including a lack of general coordination and an unusual walking and running gait, which may cause them to drag their paws and knuckles along the ground when walking. Rottweiler leukoencephalomyelopathy is a progressive health condition, which worsens the further along it gets.

Over time, generally within the space of a few months, affected dogs will lose a large part of their mobility, and a decision may be made to euthanise the dog at this stage if their quality of life is no longer viable.

How is leukoencephalomyelopathy inherited?

Leukoencephalomyelopathy or LEMP in the rottweiler is a hereditary disease, which means it isn’t contagious and doesn’t pose a risk to other unrelated dogs. The only way a rottweiler can develop leukoencephalomyelopathy is if they inherit a hereditary predisposition to the condition themselves, which in its turn, depends on the status of their parent dogs for the condition.

Leukoencephalomyelopathy in the rottweiler is inherited by means of autosomal recessive transmission, which means that the status of any given dog depends on that of both parents.

Here’s how you can work out the status of any theoretical litter when it comes to their chances of inheriting leukoencephalomyelopathy:

  • Two parent dogs that are both clear of the condition will have a litter that is also clear.
  • Two parent dogs that are both affected by the condition will have a litter that is also affected.
  • Two parent dogs that are carriers won’t be affected by the condition themselves, but may pass it on to their litter. Each pup within the litter will have a 50% chance of being a carrier, a 25% chance of being clear, and a 25% chance of being affected.
  • Breeding a clear dog with an affected dog will produce a litter of carriers.
  • Breeding a clear dog with a carrier will result in a litter from which each puppy has a 50% chance for inheriting either clear or carrier status.
  • Breeding an affected dog with a carrier will result in a litter from which each puppy has a 50% chance for inheriting either carrier or affected status.

DNA testing for rottweiler leukoencephalomyelopathy

To find out whether or not a litter planned from any pairing of two rottweilers will inherit leukoencephalomyelopathy, both parent dogs need to be DNA tested prior to breeding to find out their status.

You need to ask your vet to book the dog in and take a DNA sample from them in the form of a blood vial or a buccal swab, and they will then pack and send the sample off securely to an approved testing laboratory.

Once the sample has been tested, a result of either clear, carrier or affected will be returned to the dog’s owner.



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