Author archives: Lisa Shaffer

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 ...

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 ...

Paw Print Genetics, a Family Endeavor

Paw Print Genetics, a Family Endeavor

Paw Print Genetics is a clinical laboratory dedicated to screening and diagnosis of genetic diseases and carrier states for all dogs. In deciding to start my second company, I engaged the help of my family members. My husband needed to be agreeable to investing (emotionally and financially) in another (yes, another) clinical laboratory. But this time, it would be ours and we could make the decisions, good or bad; we would be responsible for its successes and possible failures. After convincing him that Paw Print Genetics is a great idea, we started doing our homework. It is important to know the market. Our market is dog lovers; not a small market. They include owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians and all the dogs that they breed, train and sell. Every dog deserves optimal genetic health.

Next came the science. Our staff spent months identifying the known genetic mutations in dogs and developing tests to accurately identify whether a dog is normal, a carrier or affected with these diseases. Some may ask “What does a human geneticist know about canine genetics?” Compared to the human medical literature, I was surprised how little is known about canine genetic diseases. The opportunities to make a ...

Does your Dachshund sleep too much?

Does your Dachshund sleep too much?

Maybe your Doxie has Narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an inherited condition known to affect Dachshunds. Narcolepsy is a disorder that affects a dog’s ability to stay awake for an extended period of time. Dogs with the inherited form of narcolepsy typically show signs of the disorder between one to six months of age. Affected dogs will fall asleep faster than normal dogs and appear sleepy more frequently. Episodes of narcolepsy tend to occur with positive stimulation like play or food. The affected dog may appear to collapse to the ground with a sudden loss of muscle tone but does not typically lose awareness. Symptoms do not progress over time and do not have other associated health problems.
Genetic testing of the HCRTR2 gene in Dachshunds will reliably determine whether a dog is affected with narcolepsy. Because narcolepsy is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, the breeding of two carrier dogs has a 25% risk of producing affected pups. Testing is available from Paw Print Genetics to determine the genetic status of your Dachshund. It is recommended that carriers with this mutation are not bred to avoid affected pups.

Does your Brittany have recurring infections?

Does your Brittany have recurring infections?

Complement is a type of protein that plays an important role in the body’s immune system by attacking invading organisms such as bacteria. Complement 3 (C3) deficiency is a disorder of the immune system that affects the Brittany hunting dog. In this disorder, the complement protein is absent. Dogs with C3 deficiency may present with pneumonia and other reoccurring infections, excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers and depression. C3 deficient dogs may also develop kidney disease which can lead to kidney failure and death. Genetic testing of the C3 gene PRIOR to breeding in Brittany dogs will reliably determine whether a dog is a carrier of C3 deficiency. Carriers do not have any features of the disease but when bred with another dog that also is a carrier, there is a 25% risk to have affected pups. If the breeding pair has not been screened, prospective buyers should have the puppy screened PRIOR to purchasing to avoid this devastating disease. Paw Print Genetics can help you avoid this disease in your puppies and eliminate this gene from your breeding program.

Genetic mutation may make your Old English Sheepdog sterile

Genetic mutation may make your Old English Sheepdog sterile

Cilia are found on the surface of a large number of cells and beat together in waves to move objects, such as to remove particles and mucus from the windpipe and lungs. In this manner, cilia protect the respiratory system from pathogens that can lead to infection. The structures that make-up the cilia are also found in the flagellum or tails of sperm. Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an inherited disorder of the cilia that can be found in the Old English Sheepdog. In PCD, affected dogs have cilia that do not function properly. Fluids cannot be moved in the respiratory tract and can lead to infection. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and frequent respiratory infections. Affected dogs may be sterile due to the inability of the sperm to swim properly. Genetic testing of the CCDC39 gene can reliably determine whether a dog is a genetic carrier of primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Carrier dogs do not have features of the disease but when bred with another dog that also is a carrier, there is a 25% risk of having affected pups. Testing should be done PRIOR to breeding so that carriers of this disease are not bred together. Screening ...

Genetic screening in Labradors: Pyruvate Kinase deficiency

Genetic screening in Labradors: Pyruvate Kinase deficiency

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed in the U.S. and in addition to making great pets, are commonly used as working dogs for hunting, seeing-eye dogs, and therapy dogs. Labradors carry a particularly large burden of genetic diseases, including diseases that can affect young pups. One such disease is Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency of the red blood cells (PKD). Symptoms may present as early as 2 to 3 months of age, presenting after the puppy has been purchased and delivered to their new owners.

Affected dogs have a hemolytic anemic that results in fewer red blood cells. The affected dogs tend to be smaller and weaker than their littermates. Other symptoms include exercise intolerance, pale mucous membranes, fast heart rate and heart murmurs. Enlargement of the spleen and liver is usually present by a year of age, and bone marrow and liver failure may occur by 5 years of age. Bone marrow transplant has been successful in treating the symptoms in affected dogs, although the cost prohibits this treatment in most affected dogs.

Genetic testing of the PKLR gene in Labrador Retrievers is available. Because this disease is inherited in a recessive manner, the mating pair may be carriers ...

Genetic screening in Beagles helps to select dogs for training

Genetic screening in Beagles helps to select dogs for training

All dogs are special, but Beagles play an important role as working dogs, especially in the areas of airport security and customs/immigration. In these roles, Beagles are trained to use their keen noses to identify agricultural items and substances, such as drugs, that are forbidden to be brought into the U.S. Estimates are difficult to come by, but there may be as many as 1,250 dogs being used for customs and border patrol at U.S. airports and borders. More difficult to obtain are the estimates for the costs associated with training a Beagle for these important functions. Some estimate the costs to be $16,000 to $20,000 per dog. Therefore, it is imperative that these dogs are physically fit to perform their duties once trained. In the breeding of Beagles, their top-notch sniffing abilities, desire to learn, and loyalty to humans were desired traits that were retained during their evolution. However, along with these desired traits, Beagles have a particularly high burden of genetic diseases. Many of these diseases to not manifest until the dog is mature and will impair the animal and prevent it from performing its work. Diseases such as degenerative myelopathy, Musladin-Lueke ...

Inherited disease in Poodles may cause neurological problems

Inherited disease in Poodles may cause neurological problems

Neonatal encephalopathy with seizures (NEWS) is an inherited neurologic condition known to affect all types of Poodles. Affected dogs appear small at birth and begin to develop abnormal neurologic symptoms around 3 weeks of life. Symptoms include muscle weakness, tremors, and abnormal body movement and affected dogs tend not to interact with their littermates. The disease quickly progresses with the onset of seizures and affected dogs typically die or are euthanized by 7 or 8 weeks of age. Genetic testing of the ATF2 gene that causes NEWS is available. Possible testing outcomes of this recessive disease include normal (clear), carrier and affected. Carrier dogs have one copy of the gene and although they do not have any features of the disease, when bred with another dog that also is a carrier of the same condition, there is 25% risk of having affected puppies that have two copies of the mutated gene. Genetic testing should be implemented PRIOR to breeding. Paw Print Genetics can provide you with Genetic Counseling to help eliminate this disease from your breeding lines. If testing has not been performed, genetic testing should be used PRIOR to buying that new puppy to avoid this devastating disease.