Osteogenesis imperfecta in the Finnish Lapphund dog breed
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Osteogenesis imperfecta in the Finnish Lapphund dog breed

Dogs
Health & Safety

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized dog breed that falls within the Kennel Club’s pastoral group, and whilst dogs of the breed are much more widely kept as pets and companions today, they have a long working history in their home region of Scandinavia, where they were historically used to herd reindeer.

However, despite their popularity in their home region, concerted efforts to introduce the Finnish Lapphund breed to the UK only really began in the 1990’s, and the breed as a whole still isn’t very commonly seen on our shores.

If you are in the market for a new dog and are looking for a medium-sized breed that is highly intelligent, very energetic and exceptionally easy to train, the Finnish Lapphund is certainly a breed to consider. Finnish Lapphunds are also excellent with children, very friendly and personable, and great dogs to have around.

That said, they can also be challenging to provide enough exercise and stimulation for, and don’t tolerate being left alone for very long at a time, which means that they are not the right fit for everyone.

If you are still trying to decide if a Finnish Lapphund is the right choice of dog for you, it is important to examine all of the breed’s core traits and weigh up the pros and cons objectively before committing to a purchase. Something else you should investigate before you decide that this is the right dog for you is how healthy average dogs of the breed tend to be as a whole, and if there are any hereditary health issues that present more commonly within the Finnish Lapphund breed.

Whilst Finnish Lapphunds tend to be quite long lived with an average lifespan of 12-14 years, there are a few hereditary health issues within the breed you should be aware of. One of these is called osteogenesis imperfecta, and this is a problem that affects the dog’s bones and skeleton.

In this article we will look at osteogenesis imperfecta in the Finnish Lapphund breed in more detail. Read on to learn more.

What is osteogenesis imperfecta?

Osteogenesis imperfecta is also sometimes known as brittle bone disease, and it is a type of hereditary health condition that cannot be cured or reversed.

Osteogenesis imperfecta causes the dog’s bones to become brittle, fragile, and more prone to breaking or fracturing, and which can affect all of the body’s bones, as well as the dog’s teeth and joints too.

Dogs with osteogenesis imperfecta will be more prone to injuring their bones in day to day life, and they might also suffer from muscle wastage, an abnormal walking gait, and pain when simply trying to move around normally.

Osteogenesis imperfecta develops due to a genetic mutation that affects the body’s ability to form and develop collagen fibres, which are necessary for strong bones and joints and free movement.

Why is the Finnish Lapphund at higher risk of developing osteogenesis imperfecta?

Gene mutations and anomalies that can cause hereditary health problems can and do develop out of the blue for no obvious reason within animals now and then, and generally such mutations will be bred out of the gene pool within a generation or two.

However, if there is only a small population of dogs of a given breed within the pool of available breeding stock – as is the case in the UK for the Finnish Lapphund, which is quite an unusual breed here – the chances of the mutation spreading and becoming established within the breed increases.

Over time, this causes risks for the breed as a whole to have a higher than normal chance of inheriting the condition in question, and means that breeders need to assess their dogs and mating matches carefully to ensure that their subsequent litter will not be affected by the condition.

What effect does osteogenesis imperfecta have on dogs?

Osteogenesis imperfecta can have a range of serious and varied effects on dogs that have it, including frequent bone fractures, loose teeth, problems with walking, and pain.

The condition may affect the dog’s eyes too, causing the sclera to turn blue. Dogs may also suffer from abnormal development, a slow growth rate, and stunted growth. Hearing loss, tendon weakness and muscle atrophy sometimes accompany the condition too, and in severe cases, affected dogs may also be unable to breathe normally and comfortably.

Choosing and buying a healthy Finnish Lapphund puppy

Osteogenesis imperfecta is a hereditary health condition, which is passed from dog to dog by means of autosomal recessive heredity. This means that knowing the status of any pup’s parents enables a breeder to find out whether or not their pups will be affected too.

There is a voluntary DNA testing scheme in place to enable breeders to find out the status of their breeding stock prior to making a mating match, and if you are considering buying a Finnish Lapphund puppy, you should ask the breeder if their parent stock was tested.

Try to choose a breeder who tests their dogs prior to breeding and makes the results available for prospective puppy buyers to view, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a sale if something doesn’t seem quite right.

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