The WTA Health committee is pleased to introduce the Welsh Terrier Health Incident/Death Report to the membership. The report will provide owners with a form for documenting health- related incidents and causes of death in their Welsh Terriers. It will assist the WTA in its search and selection process for researchers studying health problems that affect the breed.

The model for the form was patterned after one developed by the Collie Health Foundation. The Foundation has graciously shared its expertise and allowed us to use this format. It is our intention that this form should be available to all Welsh Terrier owners. It may be copied as many times as necessary.

The report may be completed in writing and mailed to the Secretary.


Thank you.


The Welsh Terrier in the UK has enjoyed good health for over one hundred years. The breeders have been very careful about protecting this precious gene pool. WTA member/breeders produce the majority of the Welsh Terrier puppies today. They are bound by a Code of Ethics. Surveys of the membership are done periodically in order to track the health of the breed.

Unfortunately, no breed is without health concerns. When gene mutations occur, certain health problems begin to surface. The few diseases that have been reported in the Welsh Terrier seem to occur at no greater incidence than they do in any other breed at risk for the condition. Epilepsy, Glaucoma, Allergic Skin Conditions and Thyroid abnormalities are four that have been mentioned especially in
The Welsh Terrier Leads The Way, by Bardi McLennan, in USA. Who is a WTCA member/breeder.

The WTA is dedicated to identifying health concerns in the breed, which will lead to the eradication of inherited disorders.

Welsh Terrier Health Incident Report (A report form to allow owners to document health- related incidents and causes of death in their Welsh Terriers. The information will assist the WTA in its search and selection process for researchers studying health problems that affect the breed.


Epilepsy is one of the most common diseases of the nervous system in dogs. It is characterized by seizures (convulsions or fits), which are ongoing and recur periodically. The effects of the recurrent seizures can be devastating physically for the affected dogs and emotionally for their owners.

Not all seizure activity is epilepsy. There are acquired seizures, which may be due to a brain tumour, metabolic imbalance, poisoning, distemper, and encephalitis or head trauma. Any seizure should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.

Recurrent seizures, with no known cause, are referred to as idiopathic epilepsy. It is thought to be a rare, inherited disorder in Welsh Terriers and generally appears between one and three years of age. Although there is no known cure for epilepsy, most dogs are managed on daily, anticonvulsant medications under veterinary supervision.

"To be part of DNA research in dogs at a point where things are just beginning to really take off is very exciting. I think the coming years will provide breeders an unprecedented opportunity to produce wonderful dogs, free of genetic defects. This will only happen with cooperation from those who own the dogs needed for research though, so I urge owners to participate whenever possible in research


Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness in dogs. It is characterized by increased pressure within the eye. The increased intraocular pressure can lead to irreversible damage to the eye and loss of vision. Any problem that increases the fluid pressure inside the eye can cause glaucoma. This can be due to overproduction of the fluid, but most often the pressure rises due to inadequate drainage of the intraocular fluid.

Signs of glaucoma include a reddened conjunctival tissue (red eye), weeping, light sensitivity, and eventually enlargement of the eye. As pressure increases, the pupil can become dilated and the cornea cloudy. In the earliest stages, the owner of the dog may notice that the eyes have a glassy look or seem to be dilated more than normal for the amount of light available. At this point, the eye should be evaluated by a veterinarian who can measure the pressure in the eye. Intraocular pressure measurements should be done in the morning, since the pressure will vary up to 10 mm/Hg during the day for dogs affected with glaucoma and up to 3-4 mm/Hg for normal dogs. Early diagnosis and treatment can allow control of the pain involved and may help preserve the dog’s vision.

Glaucoma has long been recognized as an inherited disorder in a number of breeds. Recent evidence has come to light indicating that glaucoma may also be an inherited disorder in Welsh Terriers. When Welsh Terriers develop primary, inherited glaucoma, the disease usually appears in dogs aged four years or older. If you notice one of the signs or symptoms of glaucoma in your Welsh Terrier, ask your veterinarian to check the intraocular pressures to rule out glaucoma. You will probably be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist, if your veterinarian is unable to perform this exam in the office.



Allergies are an abnormal reaction to an offending substance caused by an immune response. Dogs, like people can develop allergies to almost anything. Common canine allergens are pollens, foods, medications, fleas, dust, molds and mildew. The allergic responses may include eye tearing, sneezing, rhinitis (runny nose) and generalized itching. There seems to be a genetic predisposition to allergies in dogs.

When the allergic response involves the skin, it is referred to as atopic dermatitis. It affects an estimated ten to thirty per cent of the purebred canine population. This disorder is characterized by chronic skin inflammation and pruritis (itching), which may predispose the dog to secondary skin infections.  Occasionally, skin problems may be due to an abnormally low thyroid hormone level. This condition is known as hypothyroidism.

In order to determine the etiology of these allergic conditions, a complete veterinary history and physical examination will be required.  Laboratory tests may also be necessary for the most accurate diagnosis.



The thyroid gland is located in the neck and produces thyroid hormone. A low thyroid hormone level (hypothyroidism) has been blamed for skin conditions, poor coat, obesity, sluggishness, poor performance, behaviour problems and failure to conceive. It is estimated to affect approximately ten percent of the canine population exhibiting clinical signs and symptoms of the disease. There seems to be a familial incidence to this condition. Although more laboratory tests are now available, the diagnosis of hypothyroidism continues to be elusive and expensive.

 There is a consensus of opinion that any dog exhibiting signs of hypothyroidism should seek veterinary attention. Laboratory tests, along with a complete history and physical examination is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. Treatment involves supplementation with an oral, synthetic thyroid hormone replacement product approved for veterinary use and periodic monitoring by a veterinarian.