Leonmoor Leonbergers              Telephone: 01706 220292                info@leonmoor.co.uk

The LPN2 debate and why we feel it is flawed

Why have we not implemented the LPN2 test you may ask, and why is it severely flawed?

This is the first test where we can monitor its validity against actual dogs that are still living and puppies that have grown up to adulthood, and the results do not tally with the statistics given by the University.

I shall give an example; Caspar, who is now 10½ years old and has been tested as a carrier of LPN2. He currently is showing no signs of the disease but more importantly he has not experienced any cancer or heart problems in his life.

Caspar has sired approximately 150 pups in his illustrious career as a stud dog. His breeders, like ourselves, keep in touch with their puppy owners as they like to know how well they are keeping and are interested in their health. These sired pups have now gone on to produce another 200 or so grand pups.

His sired pups and grand pups now range from 9 years old down to 1 year old. After contacting these puppy and grand puppy owners we have discovered that NOT ONE of them has any LPN symptom’s. We have 4 of his pups, all now over or approaching 8 years old, and all are fit as fiddles, no signs of LPN and all have not experienced serious illness in their lives.

According to the University at least 60 of these sired pups should now be showing signs of LPN between the ages of 1 and 8 years old, but none of them have.

More importantly we have discovered that the incidence of cancer and heart problems amongst the LPN2 carrier sired pups is very low, well under the average of the Leonberger breed. Considering that over 70% of our Leonbergers die of either cancer or heart problems before the age of 8 years this is very significant, and begs the question why are we getting rid of them from our gene pool for the sake of the LPN2 disease that effects less than 1% of our dogs a year?

We have also been following with interest the debate in Europe, with numerous breeders having the same experience with their LPN2 dogs and there was considerable discussion over there about the claims of the University about how bad the situation was with affected dogs. The consensus is they have been greatly exaggerated.

We have spoken to several breeders in Europe who have the same experience with their breeding as Caspar with the same result; the statistics that have been quoted are wildly exaggerated and bear no resemblance to the incidence of LPN2 in actual living dogs. They also have the experience of carriers of LPN2 living long healthy lives that are remarkably disease free compared to the average Leonberger.

We believe this LPN2 test has been rushed through without due care or diligence or analysis. Ask yourself has the University also checked the overall health or longevity of the LPN2 carriers before making their recommendations? No, they have not. This could be interpreted as a complete lack of understanding or care about the other health problems of our breed.

So back to the accusation of being “irresponsible breeders”; we would like to suggest most strongly that we have been as thorough and responsible as we could be for the sake of the future health of our puppies and Leonbergers in general. We have had the courage to stand up against the crowd of rumours/accusations/slander to actually be bothered to spend the considerable time and effort to analyse the dogs and puppies we and others have produced to see if this new LPN2 test is valid...... and it is not. We would also like to state for the record that we are proud to have produced 28 litters ALL of which complied with the LCGB code of ethics. How many other breeders can say the same? Including those calling us irresponsible?

This is not the first time genetic analysis has got it wrong, Newfoundland breeders have just discovered that a test they have been using for the past number years is flawed and was giving wrong results. This has resulted in many healthy dogs not being used for breeding and concentrated the small gene pool further undoubtedly increasing other diseases in the process.

Faced with this new knowledge of dogs on the ground and living, we would strongly urge breeders to continue to use the LPN2 carrier dogs and mate with non-carriers in order to produce strong healthy pups that will on average live longer healthier lives compared to non-carriers. Not to do so could easily be interpreted in itself as being irresponsible and ignorant.

Also note that this LPN2 test is NOT a requirement to breed. It is a recommendation from the University and was not passed with a unanimous vote at the LCGB AGM, it was passed I believe with 21 votes for, 5 abstentions and 5 no votes. This would indicate that there are many of us out there that have real reservations about the validity of this test and it is now that you need to have the courage to state your case and be counted and refuse to be Facebook bullied into submission.

So what do you tell future puppy owners that have an LPN2 parent? Simple; you tell them that there is a very very small chance that they may develop symptons of LPN later in life, but the reality is that they are much more likely to have a puppy that lives to old age and is cancer and heart problems free compared to the average Leonberger puppy… something that we could not tell our puppy owners before this test was developed.

Or you can refuse to breed from LPN2 carrier dogs; thereby generally increasing the incidence of cancer and heart problems in the Leonberger breed and shortening the breeds lifespan….which do you want on your conscience?

This will not be the last test where these kinds of dilemmas are encountered because we are going to be inundated in the next 10-15 years with different tests. We should analyse each test that comes along with the due care and attention that our breed deserves BEFORE rushing out recklessly and damaging our breed with the typical knee jerk reaction that the Leonberger community is famous for.

As a final note, I have attached an excerpt from the Global Dog Pedigree Project. Read it and read it again until you understand it. Summarising, it says that you cannot test and eliminate for one disease without making another one worse eg. Test for and eliminate LPN2 only to make cancer in the breed worse. This is the opinion of no less than 13 international experts in genetics/biology that have nothing to gain but trying to prevent limiting gene pools reaching breaking point and full of disease. We do not pay them to test for us or give us their opinion, so no conflict of interest, unlike other organisations that seem adamant to get our money and sod the consequences.