Preliminary Lafora Genetic Testing Results

Guest Blog from Rosemary Ryan, Chairperson

BHCA Health & Research Committee

Lafora tests ordered during the Fall 2022 promotion are still arriving at the PawPrint/Neogen lab, but enough have been run to report interim results. Out of 1300+ tests ordered, the lab has received and processed 1042 tests. Of those, 365 (35%) dogs were carriers with one copy of the mutation, 105 (10%) were genetically affected (two copies of the mutation), and 572 (55%) tested clear. 


Lafora is an inherited neurological condition caused by a simple recessive gene. Signs usually appear between 5-7 years of age. To be affected, a dog must have inherited the mutation from BOTH its sire and dam. A carrier will not develop disease but must be bred to a mate that tests clear to avoid the risk of producing affected puppies. 

Because a high proportion of dogs are testing as carriers/genetically affected, it is imperative that the genetic status of any breeding pair be known prior to breeding. If you need to get a dog tested, Paw Print/Neogen is the only U.S. lab that offers the test. Although the special BHCA Foundation discount has ended, Paw Print runs a variety of 30-50% discounts throughout the year. If you have an account with them, you are likely receiving emails notifying you of new discounts. You can also go their website -, click on 'pricing' in the top menu bar, and 'current pricing' in the drop down menu, to see the discounts that are currently active. Or go to 

It appears that not all genetically affected dogs may actually develop disease. If your dog tested “at-risk/affected”, Paw Print is now beginning outreach to ask whether you would like to participate in a Lafora tracking project to determine what proportion of genetically affected dogs actually develop clinical signs, which signs, and at what age. If you tested at Nationals and opted in to the research, your dog is already enrolled. 

We now face the challenge of moving forward with the new knowledge that some of our dogs are Lafora carriers or at risk/affected. For some, the knowledge that their senior dog is affected comes as something of a relief, because it explains behavioral changes they have seen over the past few years. For others, knowing their dog is affected has sent them on a search for a diet that might help reduce the formation of Lafora bodies. Members are sharing information about test results, diet and supplements, medications, behavioral management, and Lafora genetics on the Facebook page ‘Basset Hound Lafora’ 

Please do check with your veterinarian before making changes in your dog’s care. 

Lafora test results are changing breeding plans. Speaking personally, a breeding I had worked toward for three years is now cancelled because both sire and dam are Lafora carriers. While I am disappointed, I am also grateful that I found out before doing the breeding. I will preserve my bitch’s lovely qualities by going forward with a breeding to a clear dog, knowing that I am taking on the responsibility of testing all the puppies before placement and ensuring no carrier puppies are bred to other carriers. 

In the coming months, I anticipate much discussion of caring for at risk/affected dogs and managing breedings to preserve genetic diversity while we reduce the prevalence of Lafora in Basset Hounds.
My heart goes out to all whose dogs are affected. I am filled with gratitude for all who have tested, who are sharing test results, and helping each other. I feel pride in our Club for our strong, proactive response to this health threat that was virtually unknown a year ago. 

We have the tools – and I believe we have the will – to eventually eliminate Lafora disease in our beloved breed. With testing and responsible breeding, we can do this!

Test, don’t guess.

Rosemary Ryan - Chairperson
BHCA Health & Research Committee