The Paw Print Genetics Blog

Paw Print Genetics Community Events are Important

Paw Print Genetics Community Events are Important

Paw Print Genetics is committed to excellence in customer service. To that end, we are reaching out to our potential customer base by providing seminars to various breed, specialty and community clubs, becoming involved in individual breeder’s breeding programs and attending dog shows.  We attended the Rose City Classic dog show in Portland, Ore in January and talked with hundreds of attendees that were concerned about the genetic health of their dog.  The breeders and dog owners expressed the desire to do informed breeding whereby they use genetic information to avoid producing puppies with inherited disease and eventually “breed out” the genetic diseases to produce healthier lines.

We have provided seminars on genetics to several clubs in the Spokane, Wash area including the Inland Empire Collie Club, Panorama Poodle Club of Mt. Spokane, and the Inland Empire Kennel Association.  We are delighted to provide these presentations as it gives us an opportunity to interact with club members and really understand their needs and concerns regarding inherited genetic disease.

This week, we will be at the Spokane Kennel Club dog show at the Spokane County Fairgrounds, Friday-Sunday, May 24-26.  Please stop by our booth to talk about ...

Shades of Gray: What Your Dog Really Sees

Shades of Gray: What Your Dog Really Sees

It’s often thought that dogs see in black and white – or shades of gray. That common thought isn’t completely true. While dogs do see shades of gray, they also see hues of blues and yellows. In humans, they’re somewhat comparable to a male who is red-green color blind.

In an article by Dr. Donna Spector, the vision of both dogs and cats is broken down and explained very well. In short, dogs and cats both see better in low-light conditions than humans, with cats taking the crown as night stalkers, by picking up on motion and contrast.

Dogs have better peripheral vision than both humans and cats, with some breeds that have short faces and wide-set eyes, such as the English bulldog and pug, able to see in excess of 240-degrees around themselves. Canines also have better overall vision than cats – about 20/75 as compared to felines that score somewhere between 20/100 and 20/200.

Both cats and dogs pick up on motion in low light better than humans. They also see contrast between shades of gray better – which combine to both help and hinder dogs, depending upon the task at hand.

A hunting dog ...

Importance of Accuracy When Relying on Canine Genetic Testing

Importance of Accuracy When Relying on Canine Genetic Testing

Everyone at Paw Print GeneticsTM is excited about our grand opening and bringing our clinical genetic testing services to the canine community.  As discussed in the last blog by founder and CEO, Dr. Lisa Shaffer, a great deal of time and care has gone into ensuring the quality and accuracy of our testing.  I cannot stress enough how incredibly important this validation process is and the need for the laboratory to have checks and balances to truly make certain that your canine genetic test results are accurate.

Several years ago, a friend ordered genetic testing to determine if all of the puppies her black male produced would be black or if he would have the potential to produce the other colors found in the breed.  She had several individuals who were interested in using her male but a portion of these were only interested in using him if he could produce more colors in his puppies than only black.  After paying and waiting for the results, she received the news from the laboratory that did the testing that he would only sire black puppies and informed the interested parties of this result.  Several of ...

The Real Costs of Genetic Testing

The Real Costs of Genetic Testing

I recently overheard two people discussing the cost of raising a dog and genetic testing came up. One comment was: “Do you want to pay now for a healthy puppy or pay a vet later?”. She was referring to the cost of the testing versus the cost of paying for the long-term healthcare of a dog with an inherited disease. 

In actuality, the cost of genetic testing may be less than the cost you would pay for a tooth cleaning or other routine, preventative care for your dogs. However, the genetic testing will last a lifetime and shouldn’t have to be repeated. Knowing the genetic profile of your dog will help you plan on whether you put the cost and time into training the dog and whether you eventually breed your dog. Genetic testing can improve the value of your breeding program by insuring the buyers that you have taken an active role in reducing the known genetic diseases in your lines.

Let’s take an example and walk through the health issues and costs. Hyperuricosuria, also known as urolithiasis, is a disease that affects at least 14 different breeds of dogs. Affected dogs develop bladder stones that ...

Do you have a test to screen for hip dysplasia?

Do you have a test to screen for hip dysplasia?

Since I started my work with Paw Print GeneticsTM and began discussions with many in the canine community, I have been asked more about hip dysplasia (HD) than any other disease.  Perhaps it is due to the significant decrease in quality of life it can create for affected dogs or perhaps it is because historically, it has been one of the most extensively studied canine diseases.  Regardless of the reason, it is clear to me that dog owners and breeders are concerned about the disease and would love to see it eradicated.  Unfortunately, we may be years off from fully understanding all of the contributing causes and thus, preventing this often debilitating disease.

In the most basic sense, HD is simply a condition of loose hip joints, but it is the secondary consequences of these loose joints that cause the clinical condition we recognize in dogs.  In affected dogs, laxity in the hip joint leads to abnormal alignment between the head of the femur and the pelvic socket (acetabulum) that serves as the gliding surface for the head of the femur during movement.  This improper alignment leads to abnormal wear and tear of the ...

Choose the Right Breed: Know What You’re Buying

Choose the Right Breed: Know What You’re Buying

Every breed of dog comes with drawbacks that we must accept as owners. It could be their size, how much they shed, physical requirements or limitations, or even the likelihood of developing genetic disorders. Knowing what you’re getting into, before you get into it however, can save you thousands of dollars and tons of heartache.

While you might love the looks and personality of a specific breed, you have to be honest with yourself as to whether or not you are capable of providing the dog with its required maintenance and if they honestly fit into your lifestyle.

Perhaps the best example of this honest assessment that I’ve read can be found in an article by Dr. Patty Khuly entitled "This Veterinarian’s Love-Hate Relationship with French Bulldogs."

In the article, Khuly outlines why she loves the French bulldog so much – their personality, looks and cuddle-ability among them. She’s also honest about how she’s come to own several over the course of more than a decade – primarily, owners that couldn’t afford the upkeep on dogs with severe issues, including cleft palate, dermatological problems and an emergency c-sections.

Before you blame the high-cost of veterinary care ...

Canine Genetic Testing is Serious Business

Canine Genetic Testing is Serious Business

On April 30th, you will be able to order genetic testing for your dogs from Paw Print GeneticsTM. Before we could open our doors for clinical testing, we had a lot of work to do, work that involved my entire family and our extraordinary staff.  We had to build an entire laboratory from the ground up. Part of that process was validating our tests, which, as I’ll explain, is an important and necessary step – and one that involved many of you. 

After more than 20 years of working in human genetic diagnostic testing, I decided to use these skills to improve genetic testing for inherited canine diseases. We are so grateful for the support of the community of dog owners and breeders who participated in our validation studies from December 2012 through March 2013. As unknowns in this industry, we appreciate your trust that we were doing the right thing with your dog’s DNA.

We set up our laboratory, designed our tests and conducted our validation as if Paw Print Genetics were a human diagnostic laboratory. This means that we have all of the validation documentation that would be required if we were regulated by ...

Why Canine Genetic Testing is so Valuable

Why Canine Genetic Testing is so Valuable

As a continuation of my last blog related to reasons that breeders give for not needing to do genetic testing, I felt that one of these deserved an entire blog of its own. Some breeders will say, "no problem has ever occurred in this family of dogs and I have been breeding this line for 20, 30, 40 years. I don't need to do genetic testing." From my perspective, these breeders either have not been looking very hard, aren't being particularly forthcoming, or denial is a wonderful thing (and a river in Egypt). When I started getting involved in what was referred to as a "very healthy breed" (per the people who had been breeding them for 20, 30, 40 years), I recognized 3 problems in my first 2 dogs that I would consider "genetic". I had not been told to look out for or ask about any of these issues in my extensive research on the health of the breed. In fact as I was at the breeder's home being told of this issue in my new puppy's mother and grandmother I was thinking, "Gee, that is a genetic problem that no one ever told ...

My dog appears to be going blind. Is it genetic?

My dog appears to be going blind.  Is it genetic?

Just like people, blindness or an otherwise significant reduction in vision is a relatively common occurrence in our canine friends. Whether your puppy loses his sight in bright light or your old faithful companion’s eyes are looking a little "cloudy", the profound impact it can have on the life of both pet and owner, makes preventing or treating eye disease a major concern for veterinarians.

Though there are hundreds of possible biological processes responsible for blindness, these processes can be grouped into two major categories: Non-genetic (acquired disease) and genetically inherited disease caused by mutations in a dog’s DNA (the genetic material found in all cells). Though mutations in DNA are present at birth, disease can present in a variable timeframe from puppy to older dog, depending on the specific mutation present.

Though not all eye diseases have an inflammatory component to them, some of the most commonly acquired, non-genetic eye diseases involve chronic inflammation of the eye’s internal and external structures. External chronic eye inflammation gradually damages the structure of the cornea and can eventually lead to difficulty seeing. Most of the cases involve physiological abnormalities (i.e. eyelashes rubbing on the eye) or trauma resulting ...

Importance of Canine Genetic testing anytime you breed

Importance of Canine Genetic testing anytime you breed

Many people with a "cute little dog" who are going to breed it to their friend's "cute little dog" and sell the puppies will say, "I don't need to do genetic testing on the dogs/parents, I am not a breeder." If you plan a litter of puppies, you are a breeder.

Other people will say, "There is nothing wrong with the mother and father, they are perfectly healthy. I do not need to do genetic testing." Carriers of genetic problems are often invisible and without testing; you cannot predict whether your litter will be at risk for disease.

Some people will say, "I am only breeding pets and I have never seen any issues in the puppies I produce. I do not need to do genetic testing." Pets are just as likely to get the genetic diseases associated with their breed as show or working dogs and in any scenario, people are quite obviously emotionally attached to their pets. $53.33 billion was spent in the US last year on pets with $13.67 billion of that spent on veterinary care alone (source). Many genetic issues do not get diagnosed as a genetic issue or may develop ...