Cleft Lip/Palate and Syndactyly (CLPS) in Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Quick Summary

The CLPS genetic variant causes development of cleft palate and/or cleft lip, sometimes also accompanied by syndactly (fused toes), in Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppies.

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Phenotype: The phenotype of affected puppies can vary from only a cleft palate (hole in the roof of the mouth) to cleft palate and cleft lip (split in the lip that can occur on one or both sides of the mouth). In both cases puppies may also have syndactyly (fusion of the middle two digits of the feet).

Mode of Inheritance: Autosomal recessive

Alleles: N = Normal, CLPS = Cleft lip/palate and syndactyly (CLPS)

Breeds appropriate for testing: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Explanation of Results:

  • Dogs with N/N genotype will not have this form of cleft lip/palate and syndactyly and cannot transmit this CLPS variant to their offspring.
  • Dogs with N/CLPS genotype will not have this form of cleft lip/palate and syndactyly, but are carriers. They will transmit this CLPS variant to 50% of their offspring. Matings between two carriers are predicted to produce 25% CLPS-affected puppies.
  • Dogs with CLPS/CLPS genotype will be affected to varying degrees by cleft lip/palate and syndactyly. They will transmit this CLPS variant to all of their offspring.

Results of this test can be submitted to the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)

Turnaround Time
At least 15 business days; may be delayed beyond 15 business days if sample requires additional testing, or a new sample is requested.

$55 single test per animal ($5 discount on 3 or more dogs)

$25 as additional health test on same animal

Sample Collection

Dog DNA tests are carried out using cells brushed from your dog's cheeks and gums. The preferred cytology brushes are sent to you by mail, or you may provide your own brushes. For accepted alternative brushes, click here

We recommend waiting until puppies are at least three weeks old before testing.


Dog having its cheeks and gums brushed for DNA samples
Cheek and gum brushing technique for canine DNA sample collection


  1. Make sure the dog has not had anything to eat or drink for at least 1 hour prior to collecting sample.
  2. When swabbing puppies, isolate each puppy from the mother, littermates and any shared toys for 1 hour prior to swabbing. Puppies should not have nursed or eaten for 1 hour prior to collecting sample.
  3. If collecting samples from more than one dog, make sure to sample one dog at a time and wash your hands before swabbing another dog.
  4. Label brush sleeve with name or ID of dog to be sampled.
  5. Open brush sleeve by arrow and remove one brush by its handle.
  6. Place bristle head between the dog’s gums and cheek and press lightly on the outside of the cheek while rubbing or rotating the brush back and forth for 15 seconds.
  7. Wave the brush in the air for 20 seconds to air dry.
  8. Insert brush back into sleeve.
  9. Repeat steps 5 - 8 for each unused brush in sleeve on a fresh area of cheek and gums. Make sure to use and return all brushes sent by the VGL. In most cases, it will be 3 brushes per dog. If using interdental gum brushes, please note that the VGL requires 4 brushes per dog and only moderate or wide interdental gum brushes are accepted.
  10. Do not seal brushes in sleeve.
  11. Place all samples in an envelope and return to the address provided.


  • Do not collect saliva/drool – the key to obtaining a good sample is getting cheek cells on the swab
  • Do not rub swab on the dog’s tongue or teeth – this will result in poor quality sample
  • Do not collect a sample from a puppy that has recently nursed – the mother’s genetic material can rub off on the puppy’s mouth and contaminate the sample
Additional Details

Cleft palate is a hole (cleft) in the roof of the mouth (palate) that occurs during development of the puppy. Puppies are then born with a cleft palate. Cleft lip is a split in the lip that can occur on one or both sides of the mouth. Syndactyly is the fusion of the middle two digits of the feet.

In the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, or Toller, breed, multiple genetic causes of cleft palate have been identified. A test is already available for a variant known as CP1 in Tollers, which causes cleft palate. A different variant that causes a second form of cleft lip and cleft palate called CLPS has been identified by scientists from the Bannasch Laboratory at the University of California, Davis and the Wade Laboratory from the University of Sydney.

CLPS is inherited as an autosomal recessive disease. Affected puppies inherit two mutant copies of this defective gene, one from each parent. The phenotype of puppies with two copies of CLPS can vary from cleft palate only to cleft lip and cleft palate, and in both cases puppies may also have syndactyly. Dogs that have 1 copy of the CLPS mutation (carriers) are completely normal and can be safely bred to N/N dogs in order to maintain diversity within the breed and select for other positive attributes in carrier dogs.

Breeders can use results from this test as a tool to select mating pairs to avoid producing affected dogs. About 2% of Tollers carry the CPLS mutation. This mutation accounts for 39% of cleft puppies from North America.


Note: This CPLS test is breed-specific and does not apply to any breed except the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.