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Southern English Springer Spaniel Society Health Matters

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Health bulletins issued by the Health Co-ordinators acting on behalf of the English Springer Spaniel Breed Clubs in the UK, have advised breeders/owners that during the last few years there have been a number of English Springer Spaniels reported as suffering from hepatitis. These are typically young to middle-aged dogs (more often female, but males can also be affected), which present with sudden-onset jaundice, vomiting and often marked increase in temperature. The disease becomes ‘chronic’, with periodic episodes, and unfortunately there is a very high mortality rate.

During the last three or four years, data has been gathered from affected dogs for use in a research project aimed at investigating the disease, determining its causes, and ultimately carrying out studies to discover whether there is a genetic link that predisposes some dogs to this disease.

The project is being led by Penny Watson, at the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge, in close co-operation with Professors Ellen Skancke and Wenche Farstad at the School of Veterinary Science in Norway, where incidences of the disease have also been reported.

At this stage, clinical data, blood samples and liver biopsy samples that have been collected from affected dogs, are being collated. It is vital to the success of any research project that data is obtained from as many cases as possible. To this end, in February 2006, a letter from Penny Watson was published in the Veterinary Record (with the joint co-operation of the Norwegian research clinicians, the Kennel Club Canine Genetics Coordinator and the Joint ESS Breed Clubs Health Co-ordinators), alerting Veterinary Practitioners to the disease and appealing for their co-operation in passing on data from suspected cases. A copy of this letter can be found on this website, click here to read.

This disease is absolutely devastating for both dog and owner, and we would therefore appeal to all breeders/owners who know of any suspected cases to contact:

Click here too, to read details on the paper presented by Nick Bexfield at Veterinary Congress in Budapest this year.

Penny Watson at Queen’s Veterinary School, Cambridge
Telephone: 01223 337621 / Email:

or her colleague Nick Bexfield – Email:

  Alternatively, please contact the Health Co-ordinators for the English Springer Spaniel Clubs in the UK:

Lesley Bloomfield
Tel: 01923 823579 Email:

Louise Scott
Tel: 020 8427 3396 Email: