2013 Report from the Health Group of the International
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update 2013 Minnesota
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Dear members of the International Leonberger Union.
At the annual delegates’ meeting on the 29th of September of 2012, it was
decided to form a health committee for the ILU. Using internet chat
technology, we have started the work of this group. In our initial
discussions we agreed a set of guidelines that we propose will define our
• To gather information from our member clubs about the health issues and
concerns affecting our breed; what they are, where they are, and how
frequently they occur.
• To find ways to maintain and update this information regularly, so that
it remains current and valid.
• To report back on these findings annually so that all members may have a
clear idea of what is affecting our breed and where the most concern lies.
• To seek out appropriately qualified research programmes that our breed
might collaborate with to develop new tools for treating individual
leonbergers, and / or reducing the occurrence of these conditions within
breeding populations as a whole.
What we will not do is to provide veterinary advice or instructions, as
this is not our role and we are in no way qualified to do so.
We will also not focus on any single illness or condition, but rather, we
will be guided by what the most prevalent concerns are (as expressed by
ILU member clubs), and by where the most promising research opportunities
We will not start any major projects, or launch any formal schemes before
they have been presented to, and approved by, the annual delegates’
meeting in Leonberg.
To begin our work, we contacted all member clubs and asked them 3
• Do you have a specific individual or group of individuals who are
responsible for health matters in your club?, and if so, who are they and
what are their contact details?, (email is fine).
• Has your club ever done any health studies or surveys, or have you used
some other method for gathering specific details of health concerns and
frequencies of illnesses among the leonbergers in your national
population? If so, will you share this information with us?
• What issues are you most concerned about?
Based on the replies we have received, we have now started to understand
what the main health concerns are in the various regions. It is clear that
these lists do not always correlate with each other. For example, some
areas seem to have more issues with hypothyroidism, some have grater
concerns about heart conditions, and in some other countries fearful or
insecure temperaments are becoming more of a concern. But one thing is
very clear and that is that osteosarcoma is the number one concern
everywhere. For this reason, we will focus more of our time and energy on
In the past year we have also been closely following progress in two
current areas of research related to our breed and we have provided
detailed updates for this year’s delegates’ meeting. They are the ongoing
LPN study being done by the Universities of Minnesota and Bern, and the
international cancer research collaboration involving the Broad Institute,
Bern and the University of Uppsala in Sweden.
The ILU Health Group is keenly aware that the LPN issue has dominated our
health discussions for many years and that many delegates are perhaps
tired of focusing on it now, which is understandable. Following the
release in 2010 of the gene marker test for early onset LPN1, further
progress has been very slow. But there have still been great benefits for
the Leonberger breed. There are three key points to make about this;
Firstly, we are informed that the manuscript detailing this research is
now being prepared for publication, which means that soon the LPN1 test
will be made available to other countries besides Switzerland and the
United States. This should make it much easier for owners worldwide to get
the test done. Secondly, the researchers have added LEMP (Leukoencephalomyelopathy),
to their study and have consequently made excellent progress in this
illness because of the immense effort that they put into their previous
LPN research. Thirdly, through this long LPN research, a tremendously
important DNA sample library for our breed has been gathered together, and
this valuable resource is now being put to use by other research
scientists who are now trying to tackle the number one illness that
affects our breed- cancer.
It is this last point that inspired the ILU health committee to suggest
our first proposed project: an international Leonberger DNA research
depository. It is our hope that this could be founded on the DNA samples
already being shared by research teams. In addition to collections already
held by Minnesota / Bern / and the Broad institute’s cancer research
collaboration, we are aware that Antagene in France is doing research on
Cardiomyopathie, Hip-displasia and Osteosarcome and that they have also
collected leonberger DNA for this. Our hope is that they could also be
approached about cooperating in a shared scheme.
The first stage of this would be a simple investigation into the
possibilities of achieving this, how it would be done, how access to it
would be controlled, what the costs would be, where samples would be
stored, and what the practicalities would be?
We have prepared a basic proposal for a feasibility study to investigate
this, and we submit it today for consideration by all the member country
Thank you for your help with this work,
Metha Stramer ,
September 28th, 2013
Contact for the committee: Sharon Springel