The Paw Print Genetics Blog

Genetic Testing of the Symptomatic Dog

Genetic Testing of the Symptomatic Dog

It does not come as a surprise to veterinarians that many of the diseases they see in clinical practice have a hereditary component. If a genetic disease is amenable to treatment, veterinarians are typically well equipped to improve quality of life based upon their patient’s clinical signs. However, since clinical signs alone don’t always point to a specific definitive diagnosis, veterinarians treating inherited disease are often left with unanswered questions about the root cause of the medical problem. Paw Print Genetics offers genetic testing for over 140 different genetic diseases to help veterinarians shorten their list of differential diagnoses and identify the specific genetic mutation responsible for causing the clinical signs they are seeing, thereby, allowing for more specific therapies and recommendations to be made for the benefit of their patients.

Breed Specific Genetic Testing

Many inherited conditions seen in dogs are breed specific or have only been described in particular breeds or breed groups. For instance, one specific mutation in the canine HSF4 gene responsible for early-onset hereditary cataracts has only been described in the Australian shepherd and closely related breeds. Searching a specific breed or symptom on the Paw Print Genetics website will simplify the process of choosing a specific genetic test to perform. For example, an Australian shepherd presenting between 2 and 7 years of age with obvious cataracts on eye exam. Results of this genetic test can help diagnose the cause of these cataracts or give the veterinarian information to help rule out a likely inherited cause. In contrast, if this affected dog happened to be a Boston terrier, French bulldog, or Staffordshire bull terrier (which are all reported to inherit hereditary cataracts due to a different mutation in the same gene), the other known HSF4 mutation would be a better choice for testing. In either case, the test most likely to yield a useful result can be identified by searching disease tests by breed using the Paw Print Genetics search feature.  Identifying the genetic basis of disease will help the breeder plan future litters to avoid the disease and help pet owners cope with the disease having specific knowledge about their dog’s condition as well as allow care planning with their veterinarian.

Unstudied Breeds and Mixed Breeds

Knowledge of breed specific mutations can make identification of specific tests for inherited diseases easy and convenient. However, it should be noted that given the early state of canine genetic research, many mutations previously identified in some breeds may also unknowingly be present in other breeds simply because they have not been studied or previously described. For this reason, veterinarians looking to diagnose a suspected inherited condition in a breed (or mixed breed dog) for which the mutation has not been described, may wish to search tests by clinical signs (symptoms) or browse the entire catalog of genetic tests available and order multiple tests for all diseases which may present in a similar fashion. One example of a previously unstudied breed that can now benefit from genetic testing is a rare breed of dog known as the Drentsche patrijshond or Dutch partridge dog. Though previously only recognized in other breeds, Paw Print Genetics recently discovered genetic mutations in the Dutch partridge dog which are associated with hyperuricosuria and von Willebrand disease type I. Since studies examining large numbers of dog breeds for a specific mutation are rare, it is likely that many dog breeds are harboring mutations currently unassociated with a particular breed. Like unstudied breeds, mixed breed dogs displaying clinical signs of disease can also be tested using the same genetic disease testing search techniques.

Contact Paw Print Genetics

If you are a veterinary professional and need assistance choosing genetic tests for a suspected inherited disease, call Paw Print Genetics (509-483-5950) during normal business hours (Mon.-Fri.; 8 am to 5 pm Pacific) to speak with one of our veterinarians or geneticists on staff. We can help you set up a secure Paw Print Genetics account for your practice where all test results will be uploaded for you to view and print results to discuss with your clients. You can also reach our knowledgeable staff via email at