LCSII Update May 2019

The LCSII study started recruitment after the Lifetime Cardiac Study closed in 2015.

The LCSII tracks morbidity and mortality in the IW and provides an ongoing database and DNA collection for future research to benefit IWs.

An easy-to-answer yearly questionnaire is needed for each entered hound and a single blood sample for DNA is collected at entry into the study.

Follow-up is the bane of any longitudinal study. There are too many blanks in the database!

Hopefully the ability to provide information electronically will improve response.

Health of Our Hounds

573 owners have thus far filled out the initial entry forms for the LCSII. Tracking health concerns for the IW is an important function of the LCSII.

The following data is from at least one follow up provided by 306 owners for 355 health concerns (a hound could report more than one health concern).

The IW seems to be a robust dog with 223 of these hounds reporting NO HEALTH CONCERNS.

Problems Reported

Cardiac Disease  35
Pneumonia  17
Allergies  12
Diarrhea   5
Bloat   3
OCD   3
Difficulty Urination   2
Seizure   2
Rear Weakness   2
Lymphoma   2
Megaesophagus   2
Kidney failure   1


This data continue to reflect the chronic health problems noted in previous surveys. The numbers are so small that no trends are possible except perhaps the surprising number of hounds with allergies. A follow up on health concerns will be presented yearly- hopefully with growing numbers to improve the accuracy.

Cause of Death

108 owners have reported loss of their hounds.

39 provided no cause of death leaving 69 with reported cause of death.

Cancer continues to kill most of our hounds with 32 of 69 reported deaths from cancer.

Osteosarcoma claimed 23 of these 69 hounds.The average age at death from osteosarcoma in this population was 5.98 years.

Lymphoma was reported in 3 dogs with age at death 7.1 years.

Hemangiosarcoma reported in 1 dog (8.08 yr)

Cancer-other was cause of death in 12 hounds (age 7.4 years at death)

9 hounds had cardiac death reported. The average age of death in these hounds was 7.98 years - a striking 2 year longer life span than hounds with osteosarcoma.

7 hounds died from rear weakness with average age of death for these hounds 9.4 years.

2 hounds in this cohort died of renal failure and 2 from pneumonia.

Cancer Kills 46.3% of IWs

Osteosarcoma is the number one killer and kills younger dogs. Cancer including lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma and “other” bring the total of dogs dying from cancer to 46.3% of the hounds with reported cause of death. This is even higher than previous data - although it is based on much smaller numbers than past reports and thus can be misleading.

Please take the time to accurately fill in cause and date of death for your hound so trends can be verified.

Cardiac disease and rear weakness continue to kill our older hounds.

Atrial fibrillation in the LCS11 Study

Since data collection began in 1992 the overall incidence of atrial fibrillation in the IW in North America has been between 8.9-12%. The incidence increases with age and some differences occur based on the age of the population in the data.

The incidence reported from the UK is similar.

Evaluation of the 545 entry EKGs for the LCSII showed the incidence of atrial fibrillation stubbornly remains at 11.4%.

Overall incidence of VPCs was comparable to earlier data at 3.1%. The appearance of early ventricular beats has proven dangerous for some Irish Wolfhounds. A Holter monitor is recommended if these are found on screening EKG.

11 (2%) of hounds had APCs on screening EKG. These beats are thought to be a precursor to atrial fibrillation.

39 hounds showed regular rhythm that was just faster than normal or sinus tachycardia. In the previous data this did not predict any future heart problems. These hounds will have continued follow up.

Cause of death was reported for 22 dogs being followed for atrial fibrillation.

Only 6 (27.2%) of these dogs with cardiac disease died from heart failure.

5 of these hounds died from osteosarcoma, 1 from lymphoma and 2 from other cancer - 40.9% dying from cancer. Again the numbers are very small but this is a higher percentage than found in the previous data.

3 hounds died from rear weakness and 1 from pneumonia.

Cardiac disease continues to be a significant problem in our hounds but responds to treatment and these hounds do not die prematurely and are more likely to die from other causes.

This needs to be followed for the future.

Preliminary Nutritional Data

We are what we eat.... This also applies to our hounds.

Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Lisa Freeman spoke at the National Specialty and is working with the LCSII study to collect nutritional data to benefit IWs.

Ongoing evaluation of diet and health problems is very important.

42 hounds had a body composition score checked at the National Specialty 2019. Ideal BCS is 5.

15 of these hounds were given a 5 BCS and 16 hounds a 6 BCS which is probably what is considered ideal for the conformation ring?

However 13 hounds were given a 7 and 2 dogs an 8 - this is too fat!

Many human cancers are associated with obesity. 15 of 42 hounds with significant excess weight needs attention. There was agreement between owner and vet in the body conditioning score for 19 hounds and disagreement in 23 hounds. In every disagreement the owner felt the hound was thinner... Irish Wolfhounds are mostly easy keepers and love to work for food - or just eat food. Great dark eyes with the proper soft expression and an inclination to thievery make it difficult to restrict calories....

Yearly follow up will also be provided for nutritional data. Follow up is needed on many more hounds to document any trends.