The Paw Print Genetics Blog

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 ...

The Best Vet Schools

The Best Vet Schools

At some point in time, almost all animal-loving children want to be a veterinarian when they grow up. When they grow older and the reality that being a veterinarian isn’t just about loving animals (although most vets do), and more about years and years of schooling, which includes biology, chemistry, physiology and anatomy, as well as steep financial debts, they usually find a new line of work to study.

For those that continue on their quest to provide care, comfort and cures for pets and their owners, selecting the best vet school they can get accepted to (and afford) is of utmost importance. To that end, U.S. News and World Report ranks the best veterinarian schools in the country each year.

Consistently among the best-ranked vet schools are: Cornell University, University of California – Davis, Colorado State University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University and University of Pennsylvania.

Not only do these schools provide cutting-edge education to future generations of veterinarians, they also offer local residents a plethora of information and consultation when it comes to identifying and treating animals that carry debilitating disorders.

Washington State University, another consistently top-ranked vet school, which is near Paw Print Genetics ...

Valid Canine Genetic Testing or "Accuracy" of Canine Genetic Testing

Valid Canine Genetic Testing or "Accuracy" of Canine Genetic Testing

There is a trend in the dog world for people to create a list of health clearances on their dogs as long as their arm. There is certainly nothing wrong with a long list of health clearances if those health clearance are valid for the breed - and that is a big if.

I spoke in a previous blog about the fact that not all diseases that appear to be the same are the same. An extremely involved genetic disorder can appear to be identical in two affected individuals, yet can actually have extremely different causes. More specifically, it can be caused by different gene mutations or even two entirely different genes. In the previous blog we discussed the different types of PRA that have been found in different breeds.

With a slightly different focus I want to discuss specifically how this affects the "accuracy" of genetic testing. We all know genetic testing is "very accurate." But that assumes you are testing for the right thing and that the specific gene test is informative. One example is the melanophilin gene. Two different mutations related to this gene have been identified to be associated with dilute coat color (called blue or the ...

Understanding the Genetics of Disease in Your Dog

Understanding the Genetics of Disease in Your Dog

Many people have misconceptions about genetic terms and what these terms mean related to the inheritance of a health issue in a dog, a family of dogs or a breed. I wanted to take a moment to step back and discuss some of these commonly used terms to help people understand them more clearly.

Most genes (and the genes that will be tested for at Paw Print Genetics ) are located on the chromosomes contained in the nucleus found in most cells. Chromosomes come in 39 pairs (and thus, the genes come in pairs). One through 38 are the numbered pairs (called autosomes) the 39th pair are the sex chromosomes; females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome. The X is larger and has more genes. Because males have only one copy of the X chromosome (and therefore only one copy of many genes found on the X chromosome), they are at risk of having certain diseases that are unlikely to affect females.
Autosomal conditions are found on one of the numbered chromosomes and X-linked conditions are found on the X chromosome. Each gene has a particular location on the chromosome called a locus. Different ...

A New Way to Neuter Dogs

A New Way to Neuter Dogs

A new procedure called Zeuterin offers an alternative to the standard method of neutering male dogs. It’s a non-surgical, chemical treatment that calls for the injection of a zinc gluconate solution into the testicles. The chemical reaction that occurs sterilizes a male dog by destroying already-present sperm and creating scar tissue throughout the tubes that sperm use to travel during reproduction. The injection is about as non-invasive as possible, consisting of a single injection into each testicle.

The ramifications of this innovation are huge: it could be healthier for our pets because they don’t have to undergo the rigors of surgery or anesthesia, which eases both physical and psychological stressors. It also holds the potential of an affordable means of quickly and easily sterilizing shelter animals, as well as still allowing the testes to produce hormones at about half the rate of an untreated dog (old-fashioned castration obliterates any hormone production).

Beyond those benefits, and because Zeuterin leaves the testicles of the animal intact, it also allows responsible dog owners and breeders to compete in the show ring with an animal that might meet conformation standards but otherwise not be ideal for breeding.

While developing a bloodline of ...

Predicting Genetic Disease in Your Dog

Predicting Genetic Disease in Your Dog

Continuing the series on "when genes don't make sense," let’s talk about probabilities. Many people will hear that if a condition is recessive that one in four puppies will be affected or, if it is dominant, that 50% of the puppies will exhibit the trait or be affected with a condition. They will subsequently declare that because the outcome in their litter is different than these exact percentages, it therefore must not be… recessive, dominant or genetic at all.

On the other hand, many people in dogs will say things like "they need to breed a male in order to determine if he produces males or females."

These are different errors in reasoning relating to the same type of probability.

In the first case, people are expecting the actual results to be exactly what is predicted based on possible results or probabilities. In the second case, people are assigning meaning to the random variation that is usually observed (and actually expected) compared to what is predicted based on probability.

To start with the second scenario, millions of sperm are swimming as hard as they can to fertilize the eggs. Roughly 50% of these sperm carry an X chromosome ...