The NIS has a dedicated Health Advisor, Chloe Bernard, who monitors and advises on the health of Northern Inuits so that the NIS can monitor and adjust its breeding programme accordingly.

As set out in the NIS Code of Ethics, all Northern Inuits that are part of the breeding scheme have to be hip, elbow and eye tested under the British Veterinary Association (BVA) schemes before being bred from (or equivalent for overseas breeders).  The current median hip score for Northern Inuits as set by the BVA is 12; average elbow results are 0; and eyes tests clear. Based on the health issues experienced in the breed and available tests, these tests are what the NIS considers most relevant and important to the breed which is why they are mandatory. This is kept under review in consultation with veterinary experts.

Unfortunately there can never be any guarantee that a puppy of any breed will not develop health issues (genetic or environmental issues), no matter how many tests are carried out. Thankfully, the majority of Northern Inuits live happy healthy lives without issue and the life span averages between 12 and 15 years old. A summary of the most recent health issues that can affect the breed is set out below and for further information on health in the Northern Inuit dog please contact

Hip & Elbow Dysplasia


Like all large breed dogs Northern Inuits can be more prone to developing hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. These disorders are thought in part to be genetic which is why the Northern Inuit Society insists hip and elbow tests are carried out  to reduce the chances of a puppy being affected and generally dogs with good hip and elbow scores have less chance of producing affected puppies), but it can also be brought about by environmental factors. Care should therefore always be taken when exercising puppies due to the speed at which they develop so it is important that they are not over excised or partake in activities that put pressure on their joints. Puppies should be fed a good nutritious diet and not be allowed to become overweight. The number of dogs who are reported to develop hip or elbow dysplasia is thankfully very low. For further information on hip & elbow dysplasia see the following articles prepared by the BVA:

Hereditary Eye diseases


The NIS has received reports of a handful of cases of Glaucoma and other eye issues in dogs, but it has not been confirmed whether these were primary or secondary Glaucoma (secondary Glaucoma is often environmental, rather than genetic, and can come about by infections, injury and other eye related issues). As set out above the NIS insists all potential breeding dogs are eye tested for hereditary eye diseases and now also carry out glaucoma testing. Again, thankfully the cases of eye related diseases is extremely low. For further information please see the following article prepared by the BVA:

Achondrodysplasia in the Northern Inuit


Achondrodysplasia is a congenital disease of cartilage and long bones that produces a form of dwarfism. Some dog breeds traditionally have been classified as achondroplastic based on their phenotypic appearance, such as the Dachshund, Bassett Hound and Bulldog breeds. Achondrodysplasia has also been reported in association with oculoskeletal dysplasia in the Samoyed and Labrador Retriever.

There have been eight Northern Inuit puppies born with a form of Achondrodysplasia. One case has been linked to a health issue with the Dam and due to the form of Achrondrodsplasia it is not thought to be related to the other two affected litters. Seven  further cases (from two litters) with shared ancestry have been investigated by the Animal Health Trust and the genetics department has reported to the NIS that there is no genetic match to the oculoskeletal dysplasia found in the Samoyed and Labrador Retriever. The parents of these affected dogs have been removed from the breeding programme and the breeder is now no longer part of the NIS. The Committee will continue to closely monitor future breeding to ensure that this problem is not replicated.



Male Northern Inuits can be prone to cryptorchidism (commonly referred to as retained testicles) where one or both the testes do not drop. If a dog suffers from this condition he will have to be castrated, but there should be no lasting consequences and otherwise live a normal happy life. The NIS is seeing the number of cases of cryptorchidism decrease, research suggests it can be genetic and/or environmental but it is something to bear in mind when choosing a puppy to be a potential stud dog. There is no test that can be carried out to determine whether a male will have two descended testicles, but generally if one or both have not descended by the time the dog is 6 months old they are unlikely to do so. Due to recent research on the consequences of early castration (particularly in large breeds), the NIS generally does not recommend that any male is castrated before they are fully grown (at least 12 months old).

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)


The NIS has seen a limited number of clinical cases but have had a number of dogs being reported as carriers following testing. As a result of this, and as advised by Laboklin, the NIS now require the following from NIS registered breeders:
1) All stud dogs are to be tested at Laboklin for DM (Exon 2) Test number 8158D (buccal swab)
2) All stud dogs tested clear can cover any bitch.
3) Any stud dog tested as a carrier/affected can ONLY cover a bitch which has been tested clear.

Any breeder is at liberty to routinely test their brood bitches if they wish, but the above procedure is the minimum requirement at this time. The NIS will continue to work closely with Laboklin to monitor the results of testing, click here to find details of the DM test.

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of DM is that it is not a painful disease.

Other issues


The NIS has also seen a small number of cases of epilepsy, addisons diesease and cancer in Northern Inuits, whilst there are no genetic tests for these issues and they can be caused by genetic or environmental factors, our Health Advisor keeps this under review so that any lines which are affected can be removed.


Northern Inuit Society