Pancreatic Hypoplasia
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)


This is an autoimmune disorder which destroys the pancreas and disrupts the digestive process.  Basically dogs suffering from this disorder will be unable to properly utilize important nutrients, causing them to starve to death in spite of being provided with plenty of good quality food.

Symptoms: Chronic weight loss in spite of good appetite and regular feeding.  Often elimination will be frequent and stools will appear greasy, yellowish/greyish and loosely formed.  Other symptoms include increased flatulence, coprophagia (stool eating) and bouts of stomach upset.  Diagnostic testing may show low serum canine trypsin-like immunoreactivity (cTLI).

Treatment Options: Thorough evaluation should be done by a veterinarian to rule out other causes and get correct diagnosis because some symptoms can be similar to other digestive issues, parasitism or disease processes such as Addison’s.  Prescription of a nonenteric-coated enzyme supplement and adjusting the diet have been used with variable success. 

Known Mode of Inheritance: Unknown in Cardigans.  Suspected to be Autosomal Recessive, but current research has identified more than one marker as a possible source in GSDs.  There is also evidence that environmental factors such as stress may play a role in onset and severity of symptoms.

Age of onset: < 1 year, but can occur at any age.

Breeds affected

  • Cardigan: yes
  • Pembroke: yes
  • Other Breeds: yes, many breeds and mixed breeds, but GSDs, Chows, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS), Rough-Coated Collies and Boxers have shown a relatively high incidence.

Incidence in Cardigans: Unknown


  • Cardigans: no
  • Other breeds: yes
  • Active?: yes, but currently for GSDs only

Registry: no

Tests Available: no, but diagnostic testing that shows abnormally low serum canine trypsin-like immunoreactivity (cTLI) concentration (< 2.5 mg/L) in dogs showing symptoms and dogs repeatedly having subnormal cTLI values (2.5-5.0 micrograms/L) even without clinical signs, should be considered suspect for this disorder.

Research links:

Published papers and Articles:

Discussion Groups:


  • epi4dogs.com Very good site with a lot of helpful information.

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