The Welsh Terrier Club

The Welsh Terrier Club

Welsh Terrier Breed Health

To date the health of the Welsh Terrier has remained in a good state. However the club takes this matter very seriously and has appointed a breed health representative Alexandra Witmond.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health,  then please feel free to contact Alex, either by Tel. 01279 635130 or e-mail .



Welsh Terriers are among several breeds where this condition is suspected of being inherited and is on the Schedule B of the BVA/KC/ISDS eye scheme.


The test to determine this condition is called Gonioscopy. The Kennel Club initiated a Pilot grading study in July 2017 and from Jan 2018 there will be a new grading order from 0 to 3:-

  1. Normal
  2. Mildly affected not likely to develop Primary Glaucoma but suitable for breeding
  3. Moderately affected, low risk of developing Primary Glaucoma. Breed specific advice required if breeding
  4. Severely affected. High risk of developing Primary Glaucoma. Not recommended for breeding.
  5. Eye clinics are held around the country and also at some Championship shows.

To find out more information, please click here to read the BVA/KC/ISDS SCHEME ARTICLE




Visit our news page to read the full article


Masticatory Muscle Myositis is an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies attack the 2M fibres in the masticatory (chewing) muscle group.

Although MMM can occur in any breed, it occurs more commonly in large breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers. Young Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may be severely affected.

The condition occurs in males and females with an average age of onset of 3 years, though puppies as young as 4 months have been affected. Fortunately, if MMM is diagnosed early, dogs can be treated to increase the likelihood of a full recovery.

Research of this disease at the University of California San Diego led to the development of a blood test in 2004 that detects the presence of 2M antibodies and accurately identifies affected dogs. The team identified type 2M fibres in the Masticatory muscle group and showed that antibodies against type 2M fibres are involved in the pathogenesis of MMM.

MMM is an inflammatory myopathy. It is a unique myopathy or a muscle disease in which dogs commonly have jaw pain and inability to open the jaw.

The genetic components of autoimmune disease are very complex. Although a great deal of research has been done to identify the causes of human autoimmune disease, much less research has been done in dogs. Genes play a role in increasing susceptibility to autoimmune disease but ENVIROMENTAL triggers initiate the onset of clinical signs.

In dogs that are predisposed to autoimmune reactions, suspect triggers include viral and bacterial exposures, possibly vaccinations, hormones, stress, allergens, medications, and environmental toxins. It is NOT purely a genetic disease - hormonal, environmental and other unknown factors come into play .

Owners who recognize these signs of MMM in their dogs should seek veterinary care:

1) Inability to open the jaw.
2) Jaw pain.
3) Swelling or atrophy of the jaw muscle.
4) Difficulty in eating or drinking.
5) Reluctance to play with toys.
6) Sunken or protruding eyes.
If the disease is diagnosed early and a dog is treated appropriately the prognosis is good for
dogs with MMM.

Regarding breeding recommendations; MMM is not considered to be a high priority disease to target reduction. This is due to the genetic and environmental complexities, the low incidence of the disease, the overall good outcome with appropriate therapy and, importantly, the concern for maintaining as much genetic diversity in the breed.



Since March 2012 a genetic condition has come to light that affects Welsh Terriers. It’s called Primary Lens Luxation (PLL).

This condition is caused by an inherited mutation in a gene which is required for the healthy construction of the lens fibres. PLL is an inherited eye disease which can lead to blindness. In affected dogs, the tiny fibres which hold the lens break down and the lens can fall out of position which may cause glaucoma and blindness. This is a late onset condition – an affected dog would develop signs of PLL between 4 to 8 years of age.

Thankfully, there is a test for identification of the DNA mutation which has only been available since 2009. This test is useful for those breeders, or pet owners who want to breed, to identify the status of their breeding stock, so that they are not breeding from affected animals as affected dogs should not be bred from.

There can be three results–
• CLEAR – free of the PLL mutation
• CARRIER – has one copy of the mutation
• AFFECTED – has two copies of the mutation

As we have a small gene pool in Welsh Terriers, CARRIERS can be used for breeding but only to CLEAR animals, then the pups should be tested; CARRIERS X CLEAR = 50% CARRIER / 50% CLEAR.

The Kennel club announced that, from 29th August 2013, testing results which qualify for the Kennel Club's DNA Screening Schemes will be accepted from Animal DNA Diagnostics Ltd who carry out this PLL screening, and will be posted on the Kennel Club website. Future results will routinely be forwarded without the need for owners to contact the Kennel Club.

This test is not yet a requirement of the Kennel Club, but a lot of breeders having been doing the test to their stock on a voluntary basis.

Anyone who would like further information, please email me at, or if you would like to get the kit to do this simple swab test, then email Dr June Swinbourne at quoting Breed296 to get a 5% discount.


October 2017 - Update
We have now had feedback from Animal DNA Diagnostics:  in the years that this service has been available, 129 Welsh Terriers have been tested – of which 87 (68%) are clear, 38 (29%) are carriers and just 4 (3%) are affected.

More information , covering breeding advice, on the Animal Health Trust’s website -