Author archives: Casey Carl

Prevention Is Smart Breeding- Progressive Retinal Atrophy and the American Eskimo Dog

Prevention Is Smart Breeding- Progressive Retinal Atrophy and the American Eskimo Dog

Despite its name, the roots of the American Eskimo dog can be traced back to Germany where it was known as a white colored, miniature to medium sized variety of the German spitz. This well rounded farm dog came to the United States with German immigrants in the early 20th century and adopted the name American spitz in the World War I era when war related anti-German sentiment and American patriotism were widespread. The breed was first recognized as the American Eskimo dog (AED) by the United Kennel Club in 1919 and was accepted by the American Kennel Club for registration in 1995. Known for its alert demeanor, the AED makes an excellent watchdog that alarms its family of potential danger through warning barks. The AEDs intelligence, fast learning, and desire to please have made it a competitor in the agility ring and obedience trials. Though not universally recognized as three separate varieties, the modern AED is often split into three size groups (toy, miniature, and standard).

Despite its many talents, beautiful physical characteristics, and intelligence, like other pure breeds, the AED has developed some inherited disease concerns over the course of its development that have caused significant issues ...

Prevention is Smart Breeding- Ichthyosis and the Norfolk Terrier

Prevention is Smart Breeding- Ichthyosis and the Norfolk Terrier

There are few dog breeds that can match the spirit and spunk of the Norfolk terrier. Prior to the recognition of the Norfolk terrier as its own independent breed, this small, English bred working terrier fell under the Norwich terrier banner, in which either drop or prick ears were recognized as acceptable traits. With time, Norwich breeders began to differentiate dogs based upon ear carriage. The drop eared members of the breed eventually became known as the Norfolk terrier, thereby splitting the breed into two very similar, yet distinct lines. The Norfolk terrier was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1964 and by the American Kennel Club in 1979. Two independent breed standards were established for these breeds and despite their common roots, the breeds have diverged slightly in their physical appearance over the past few decades. The Norfolk terrier is well known for their energy, loyalty, bravery, and affectionate demeanor. Breeders of the Norfolk terrier take pride in producing dogs with great temperament while maintaining the breed’s ability to work. That being said, today’s Norfolk terrier is more commonly found in homes as a companion animal rather than fulfilling its original purpose of hunting rodents and other ...

Prevention Is Smart Breeding- Ataxia and the American Staffordshire Terrier

Prevention Is Smart Breeding- Ataxia and the American Staffordshire Terrier

With a beautiful variety of coat colors and markings in combination with their impressive muscular build, the striking appearance of the American Staffordshire terrier (AST) is one to behold. The modern AST can trace its origins to 19th century England when bulldogs of the time were bred to terriers in an attempt to create a dog with the most desirable personality traits of each breed (the specific breed of terrier used in the early breedings is in dispute among domestic dog historians and may have actually been multiple terrier breeds). In 1972, the original name of the breed (used from the time of their 1936 acceptance into the American Kennel Club), Staffordshire terrier, was changed to the current, American Staffordshire terrier by breeders to distinguish their breed of heavier, American bred dogs from the original Staffordshire terrier of England.

As the AST has progressed as a breed, so has the understanding of the genetics that underlies the breed we see today. In addition, the discovery of particular genetic mutations responsible for causing inherited diseases has allowed for the development of genetic tests to identify nonsymptomatic carriers and young dogs affected with late-onset inherited disorders. Through the genetic knowledge gained ...

Prevention Is Smart Breeding- Collie Eye Anomaly and the Australian Shepherd

Prevention Is Smart Breeding- Collie Eye Anomaly and the Australian Shepherd

Despite a name which implies an origin “down under”, the Australian shepherd is widely understood to be a breed of American origin. In fact, descriptions of the breed and their importance in the lives of 19th and 20th century Basque shepherds who had relocated from Australia to the western US are plentiful. Australian shepherds’ exceptional intelligence, versatility, desire to please, and a natural instinct to herd and guard livestock have made them a common inhabitant of ranches and farms where they have been trained to perform a variety of tasks. Aside from their work on the homestead, their unique abilities have also made them great competitors in stock dog trials, agility events, and other dog sports. Despite their many talents and desirable traits, like many other breeds, the Australian shepherd has developed some inherited disease concerns that can prevent them from performing at their best or otherwise decrease their overall quality of life. One such condition recognized in the Australian shepherd is the genetic eye disease known as collie eye anomaly.

What is CEA?

Collie eye anomaly (CEA), also known as choroidal hypoplasia, is an inherited eye disease caused by a mutation in the canine NHEJ1 gene. Dogs ...

Preventing Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goiter in the Toy Fox Terrier

Preventing Congenital Hypothyroidism with Goiter in the Toy Fox Terrier

With a personality much bigger than their diminutive size, the toy fox terrier (TFT) is a fun and feisty breed well known for their charming and entertaining personalities. Originally created by the breeding of various toy breeds to the smooth fox terrier, like other terriers, TFTs still love the thrill of the hunt and are at their happiest giving chase to any small mammal willing to run. Though toy fox terriers have occasionally been described as headstrong and have been known to take control of a house, a well socialized and well trained toy fox terrier is a wonderful addition to many families. Still retaining tenacity from their terrier roots, their disposition is also tailored by the variety of toy breeds used to make this fine breed. Unfortunately, like other purebred dogs, the TFT has developed some inherited disease concerns along their path to the modern breed. Luckily, some of these diseases can now be prevented by performing genetic testing on dams and sires prior to breeding and by implementing selective breeding strategies based upon these results. One such genetic condition known to occur in TFTs is congenital hypothyroidism with goiter (CHG), a disease caused by a genetic mutation in ...

Preventing Inherited Progressive Retinal Atrophy in the Irish Setter

Preventing Inherited Progressive Retinal Atrophy in the Irish Setter

Despite its once prominent role as a talented upland gamebird hunting dog, by the mid-1900s the Irish Setter’s popularity in the field was on the decline. Despite developing significant interest and success as a show dog, the breed had nearly disappeared from the hip of gamebird hunters. Around this time, outbreedings to field champion English setters were performed in an effort to resurrect the popularity and improve the talents of the Irish setter as a hunting companion. In many locales, this field bred variety of Irish setter became known as the red setter while the Irish setter name is now most closely associated with the show variety of the breed. In the United States however, red setters still fall under the umbrella of the Irish setter name. Found in multiple colors and coat patterns in its early history, the breed’s modern solid red coat color became entrenched in the breed due to its popularity in the European show ring of the late 1800s.

Like other purebred dogs, the Irish setter has developed some inherited disease concerns along its path to its modern state. However, through the use of modern genetic testing technology and selective breeding practices, some inherited diseases can now be ...

Preventing Ectodermal Dysplasia/Skin Fragility Syndrome in the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Preventing Ectodermal Dysplasia/Skin Fragility Syndrome in the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Like other popular retrieving breeds such as the Labrador, golden, and flat coated retrievers, the American bred, Chesapeake Bay retriever can trace its roots back to the St. John’s water dog, a purpose bred dog originating in the Canadian providence of Newfoundland. With its wavy and slightly oily, waterproof coat, the Chessie has become a prominent fixture at the side of bird hunting enthusiasts since its development in the 19th century. Not surprising to those that have lived and worked with a great Chesapeake, the breed has increased in popularity in the US over the past several years as indicated by their jump in the AKC registration rankings from 49th in 2009 to 40th in 2014. Unfortunately, like other pure bred dogs, along its path to modern popularity the Chesapeake has developed some inherited genetic disease concerns that are known to cause medical issues for some dogs and can be a source of heartache for those that love them. One particularly severe, inherited condition unique to the Chesapeake Bay retriever, is a condition known as ectodermal dysplasia or skin fragility syndrome (ED/SFS).

What is ED/SFS?

ED/SFS is a severe, inherited disease in which affected dogs are ...

Canine Halloween Hazards

Canine Halloween Hazards

The leaves are falling and the pumpkins are reaching their proper jack ‘o lantern size. Soon children everywhere will be dining on a steady diet of Halloween candy while many of us adults relive our youth by taking full advantage of the one day every year we can pretend to be someone (or something) else. Though many dogs also enjoy all of the excitement that Halloween brings, this time of year can sometimes present additional hazards and stressors for our canine friends.

Alcohol and Party Food

Themed parties are a common source of fun around Halloween. Unfortunately for our opportunistic dogs, parties can also be a great chance for canine indulgence on potentially dangerous foods and drink. Tending to the needs of partygoers and the chaos associated with such a social gathering, often leads to greater difficulty keeping watch over the dogs of the house. In addition, it is not uncommon for party guests to innocently set down a plate of food or their glass of wine only to find out that it quickly disappeared down the gullet of a sly canine with a taste for human cuisine.

Alcoholic beverages are a particular concern for dogs at parties. Dogs under ...

Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Day

Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Day

If an intelligent, alien visitor happened to land on Earth, I can’t help but think they would be fascinated by the relationship between humans and dogs. Developed over thousands of years, our once important working relationship with dogs has given way to a deep friendship built more upon our common needs for social connection and acceptance than a hard day’s work. However, without an understanding of what it means to have a dog, one might think that humans were getting a raw deal. We spend our time and hard earned money feeding, entertaining, providing shelter and medical treatment, and otherwise spoiling our dogs with little expectation of a tangible payoff, other than love. But, as any dog owner can attest, it’s hard to put a value on the love from your favorite fur ball.

One of the most impressive examples of our culture’s commitment to our canines is the AKC’s Responsible Dog Ownership Days (RDOD). This time of year since 2003, the AKC has asked its 5000 affiliated clubs around the country to hold community events in an effort to entertain and educate the public about the best practices in responsible dog ownership. Events vary around the country, however it is ...

Canine Genetic Disease Testing Prior to Other Health Clearances- Why It Makes Sense

Canine Genetic Disease Testing Prior to Other Health Clearances- Why It Makes Sense

Once only a dream for dog lovers, technological advances in the sciences have now made testing for certain inherited diseases a mainstay of modern dog breeding. With knowledge of a specific, disease-causing genetic mutations and an understanding of how diseases are inherited, tests can be developed to identify dams and sires at risk of developing the disease or producing affected puppies. With this knowledge, informed decisions can be made in selecting mates and making choices about whether or not to breed a particular dog.

As the Associate Medical Director at Paw Print Genetics, I have heard many different strategies employed by our clients to get their dogs’ required or recommended health clearances performed prior to breeding. Some choose to break up their testing over time in order to spread out the cost and many choose one type of health clearance to be performed first with other testing to be completed upon the results of the first round of testing. Based upon the most common testing performed on pure bred dogs, breeders should consider performing their genetic disease testing first, followed by the other clearances they need to pursue before breeding.

Test at Any Age

One advantage to performing genetic health ...