Author archives: Lisa Shaffer

Why Should I Test with a Breed-specific Panel?

Why Should I Test with a Breed-specific Panel?

At Paw Print Genetics, we offer nearly 200 different breed-specific panels. We are often asked "why choose a breed-specific panel?".  Choosing a breed-specific panel will help you avoid introducing a new genetic disease into your breeding program while saving you time, money and anguish in the future.  Here's why:

1. Test your dam and sire with the breed-specific panel before you breed. 

Performing a complete, breed-specific panel on your dam and sire will help you make an informed decision to breed or not to breed.

Testing first the dam and sire with an entire panel also saves money in the long run by reducing the need to test their future puppies. This is because puppies will be clear for a disease if both tested parents are also clear for that disease. Therefore, the puppies sold as future breeding stock will only need to be tested for any disease-causing mutations found in the parents. If both parents are clear of all disease-causing mutations, no testing of the puppies is necessary.

2. Test your new puppy with the entire breed-specific panel before you buy.

Introducing a new dog into your breeding program is always a little risky. Although you can’t exclude ...

Paw Print Genetics Partnerships

Paw Print Genetics Partnerships

Paw Print Genetics partners with a number of different organizations. In many cases, the organization comes to us wanting help in providing members with educational materials on genetics to promote genetic testing among their members. In other cases, we see a need in an organization for better education and we want better visibility to their membership.  In either case, our partnerships are limited to providing genetics education when desired, discounts to members to promote testing, and supporting their events with raffle items or prizes, such as gift certificates for free testing. 

You may have noticed that some of the organizations and clubs that we have partnered with may be considered nonconforming in the sense that some are not AKC recognized, nor are they well known.  Some individuals have recently questioned our integrity or intentions with these groups.  In partnering, our only agenda is to promote healthy dogs and genetics education.  We do not have any other agenda.  Paw Print Genetics will accept samples from all dogs, regardless of breed, color, conformity to published standards, registered, rescued or adopted.  We do not discriminate when it comes to promoting genetic testing and healthy dogs.  ...

Rickie Roo to Compete at Westminster

Rickie Roo to Compete at Westminster

Rickie Roo, well-known star in the world of dog agility is also known for her canine philanthropy, recognized by the American Kennel Club as an Award of Canine Excellence (ACE) award honoree for her educational and charitable efforts.

This spunky 7-year-old Rat Terrier is an exceptional athlete and is ranked among the best in her sport, earning her titles Master Agility Excellent and Master Excellent Jumpers With Weaves. These titles were needed for Rickie Roo to qualify for this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Masters Agility Challenge event.  Despite having a visual impairment due to both lenses needing removal because of primary lens luxation (PLL), she will be competing on February 14th (show airs on 2/15) at Westminster. 

In the sport of dog agility, just like in the Olympics it is important to be in tip-top shape and able to perform at your best. Which is why her breeder, Barbie Trammel and her owner and trainer, Deborah Davidson-Harpur had Roo’s DNA tested for an inherited mutation that causes lens dislocation in several breeds. PLL is caused by a mutation that affects the ligaments that holds the lens of the eye in place. When those ligaments ...

Does the same mutation always cause disease?

Does the same mutation always cause disease?

Paw Print Genetics is often asked if the same mutation always causes genetic disease, especially when the mutation is identified in a breed different from that originally investigated.  The answer is not simple.  For many of these types of genetic questions, I go back to my ‘human’ roots as a human geneticist.  Because more than 4,500 diseases and their genetic causes are known, human genetics can shed considerable light on problems just beginning to be investigated in dogs.

Currently, there are about 185 known mutations in dogs, with about 150 that cause disease and another 30 or so that cause traits such as coat color or coat length.  In dogs, these disease-causing mutations have been narrowly defined to certain breeds or certain clinical features (phenotypes), but is this always the case?

In human genetics, anything imaginable has been described. Certainly, there are diseases that are caused by single mutations; in this case, one mutation causes one disease.  But there are many examples of multiple mutations in one gene causing one disease and examples of multiple mutations in multiple genes causing one phenotype (one disease).  Likewise, there are many examples of the same exact mutation ...

Stupid Human Tricks. How Well Does Your Dog Have You Trained?

Stupid Human Tricks. How Well Does Your Dog Have You Trained?

We train our dogs to do certain things, like sit, stay, lay down, retrieve or even run through an agility course. Training a dog takes patience and persistence. It means providing consistent clues that your dog will eventually come to understand if done in the same manner. But I’ve recently come to wonder, have I trained my dog, or has she trained me?

Every time we sit down to eat dinner, our dog Daisy runs to the front door, whips around and stares at us. Invariably, one of us says, “Daisy needs to go out” and my daughter groans, gets up and lets her out.   Most of the time, Daisy does her business, but sometimes, she runs out to the middle of the yard, expecting my daughter to follow her and hopefully play.  This has led us to believe that Daisy’s behavior of running to the door and then staring us down, has trained us to respond in a particular way, and has us wondering if she brags to the other dogs that she has trained her human to stand up and open the door on command.

Likewise, Trixie the Wiener Dog has my husband trained to take ...

To Breed or Not to Breed, That is the Question

To Breed or Not to Breed, That is the Question

At Paw Print Genetics, we are often asked about a common scenario, “My bitch is about ready to whelp and I just found out that her half-sister carries this horrible genetic disease. What should I do?”. Our answer is always the same. Follow these simple steps to avoid this situation while saving you time, money and anguish in the future:

1. Test your dam and sire with the breed-specific panel before you breed. 

Performing a complete, breed-specific panel on your dam and sire will help you make an informed decision to breed or not to breed.

Testing first the dam and sire with an entire panel also saves money in the long run by reducing the need to test their future puppies. This is because puppies will be clear for a disease if both tested parents are also clear for that disease. Therefore, the puppies sold as future breeding stock will only need to be tested for any disease-causing mutations found in the parents. If both parents are clear of all disease-causing mutations, no testing of the puppies is necessary.

2. Test your new puppy with the entire breed-specific panel before you buy.

Introducing a new dog into ...

Why do genetic testing in your dog?

Why do genetic testing in your dog?

Bringing a new puppy into the family is a financial and emotional investment.  Once the kids fall in love with that new puppy, there is no turning back, no matter what might happen.  Whether you are a professional dog breeder or simply a careful buyer, genetic testing can help you understand the potential genetic threats to your dog’s health. It will also inform you of potential inherited diseases that may get passed on if you decide to breed. By testing both the dam and sire, this information will help you select the proper mate to produce the healthiest puppies thereby increasing the value of your breeding program.  If both the dam and sire are clear, all of the puppies will be clear by parentage. Thus, those that are diligent about testing will save money over time. However, every time a new dog is brought into a breeding program, that dog should be screened for all known disease mutations to make sure you are not introducing new mutations into your lines.

Paw Print Genetics was founded by geneticists and veterinarians committed to quality genetic testing and outstanding customer service. Paw Print Genetics offers the largest selection of tests ...

Degenerative Myelopathy: Should you be concerned for your breed?

Degenerative Myelopathy: Should you be concerned for your breed?

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) can be a devastating disease. Some breeds with this disease will lose the ability to walk in their later years – certainly after the age most dogs are bred. The mutation has been found in more than 120 breeds (1), which indicates that the original mutation might have occurred hundreds or thousands of years before many of the modern dog breeds emerged.

However, the frequency of the mutation varies between breeds and certainly the risk of developing the clinical disease seems quite distinct and breed-specific. For example, the frequency of carriers and homozygous mutation (affected) dogs in the Kerry blue terrier is about 52%(1), while carriers and affected dogs make up 91% of Pembroke Welsh corgis in Japan(2). Although wire fox terriers have a similar combined carrier and at-risk frequency of 90%, none have ever developed the clinical signs of DM(3).

In a 2001 study by Moore et al., German shepherd dogs had nearly twice the risk for death associated with spinal cord diseases, compared with Belgian shepherd dogs among military dogs(4).  Although we don’t know for sure if the spinal cord disease was DM, certainly DM is one of the more common causes of this ...

The USBCHA Sheep Dog Finals

The USBCHA Sheep Dog Finals

The United States Border Collie Handler’s Association (USBCHA) holds an annual event to find the best of the best herding dogs. The USBCHA is the sanctioning body for sheep and cattledog trials throughout the United States and Canada. Founded in 1979, the USBCHA has grown into an organization of more than 800 members. Members who qualify at sanctioned open trials during the year are eligible to compete in the USBCHA National Sheep and Cattle Dog Finals to determine the champion open dog and handler for that year. The first Sheep Dog Finals were held in 1979 with the first National Cattledog Finals held in 2001.  This year, the finals will be held at the Strang Ranch in Carbondale, Co September 8-14, 2014. The 460 acre ranch is at an altitude of 7000 feet and offers stunning views of Mount Sopris and the Elk Mountain Range in Western Colorado.

Paw Print Genetics will be on-hand to answer questions about genetic screening for Border Collies and other herding dogs.  Paw Print Genetics and the USBCHA have partnered to help educate its members about inherited diseases and to provide discounts to the USBCHA members.  Working dogs are an investment and ...

Knowledge is Power in Dog Breeding

Knowledge is Power in Dog Breeding

I was recently contacted by a friend who is looking to buy a new puppy and wanted to make sure that the parents had been tested, and if not, that the prospective puppy had been tested for all of the disease that are found in that breed.  When she asked the breeder if testing had been done, the answer was “no”. When she asked if she could have a sample sent to Paw Print Genetics prior to buying the puppy, the breeder promptly returned her deposit and said that the puppy was no longer available. Feeling devastated, my friend knew that she was asking the right questions. After all, she is looking for a new family member!

Was the breeder hiding something or just simply afraid of what she might find if she were to do genetic testing?  We won’t know the answer, but I think a lot of what keeps some breeders from testing is fear of the unknown.  What if they find something in their lines?  Will they be stuck with dogs that they can’t sell?  Will others think that they have “bad” dogs?  Actually, doing genetic testing will increase the breeder’s ...