Lethal Acrodermatitis

Other Names: LAD
Affected Genes: MLKN1
Inheritance: Autosomal Recessive
Mutation: chr14:5560588 (canFam3): T/G
Breed(s): Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier

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Common Symptoms

Lethal acrodermatitis is an inherited disease affecting dogs. Affected dogs present in the first few weeks of life with signs of immune system dysfunction including diarrhea, pneumonia, and general failure to thrive resulting in slower growth than that of healthy littermates. Affected puppies develop yeast infections of the skin resulting in redness, scales, crusts, and ulcers on the feet, legs, and muzzle. They also develop color dilution of their hair in the pigmented skin regions. In addition, affected dogs often have an abnormally arched hard palate in the mouth that serves as a food trap, resulting in foul breath. As the disease progresses, dogs develop severe, painful crusting and thickening of the foot pads and deformed toenails. Affected dogs often die or are humanely euthanized by 2 years of age due to complications associated with pneumonia and the pain of severe foot lesions.

Testing Tips

Genetic testing of the MLKN1 gene will reliably determine whether a dog is a genetic Carrier of lethal acrodermatitis. This disease is inherited in an Autosomal Recessive manner in dogs meaning that they must receive two copies of the mutated gene (one from each parent) to develop the disease. In general, carrier dogs do not have features of the disease but when bred with another carrier of the same Mutation, there is a risk of having affected pups. Each pup that is born to this pairing has a 25% chance of inheriting the disease and a 50% chance of inheriting one copy and being a carrier of the MLKN1 gene mutation. Reliable genetic testing is important for determining breeding practices. In order to eliminate this mutation from breeding lines and to avoid the potential of producing affected pups, breeding of known carriers to each other is not recommended. Dogs that are not carriers of the mutation have no increased risk of having affected pups.

There may be other causes of this condition in dogs and a normal result does not exclude a different mutation in this gene or any other gene that may result in a similar genetic disease or trait.


  • Bauer A, Jagannathan V, Hogler S, Richter B, McEwan NA, Thomas A, Cadieu E, Andre C, Hytonen MK, Lohi H, Welle MM, Roosje P, Mellersh C, Casal ML, Leeb T. MKLN1 splicing defect in dogs with lethal acrodermatitis. PLoS Genet. 2018 Mar 22;14(3). [PubMed: 29565995]
  • Jezyk PF, Haskins ME, Mackay-Smith WE, Patterson DF. Lethal acrodermatitis in Bull Terriers. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1986 Apr 15;188(8):833-9. [PubMed: 3710872]