Category archives: All Things Dog

Resources and information for the dog owner or breeder.

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 ...

Friendship Day and Our Relationship with Dogs

Friendship Day and Our Relationship with Dogs

Though reliable sources for the early origins of a holiday to celebrate friendship in the US are scarce, it is probable that the first Friendship Day was proposed by the Hallmark greeting card company in the early 1900’s. Despite Hallmark’s attempt, the holiday’s luster had faded by the end of the century only to be resurrected by citizens of several Asian countries in the early 2000’s. Renewed interest in a day of friendship eventually led the UN General Assembly to proclaim July 30, 2011 the first International Day of Friendship in over 40 countries. Aside from the International Day of Friendship celebrated on July 30 annually, other countries (including the US) celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August or other dates. In 2015, Friendship Day will be celebrated by the US on August 2.

The ambitious intentions of the UN-established holiday were to promote friendship between cultures, countries, and individuals in an effort to maintain peaceful relationships on a global scale. On a less ambitious level, the holiday gives us a reason to be mindful of the great people in our life that we are privileged to call our friends. For us simple dog lovers, a day of ...

The Path to Independence from Canine Inherited Diseases

The Path to Independence from Canine Inherited Diseases

The art of medicine today is nearly unrecognizable from its state in 1776 when the original thirteen colonies of the United States declared their independence from Great Britain. Without knowledge of bacteria or viruses, physicians and veterinarians of the day had few worries about sterility or the fact that they could play a role in the spread of deadly diseases between their patients. Bolstered by anecdotal evidence, dangerous treatments to purge various ailments from the body such as bloodletting and enemas (then called clysters) were commonly practiced in both people and animals in opposition to our modern understanding of their risks and lack of efficacy.

The Birth of Modern Genetics

The 19th century saw great advances in science including progression of the scientific method by which scientists could more objectively test their observations and develop an explanation for them. These methods also allowed for the modification of previous theories as new information was uncovered through experimentation. It was also the 19th century in which the foundation for the modern era of genetics was laid by an Augustinian friar named Gregor Mendel. Far ahead of his time, Mendel’s study of trait inheritance in the common pea plant went relatively unnoticed ...

Mother's Day- Introducing A New Dam to Your Breeding Program

Mother's Day- Introducing A New Dam to Your Breeding Program

If you are anything like me, planning for Mother’s Day can be like planning for a future litter of puppies. Caught up in the whirlwind of life, work, fun, kids and family, sometimes the important planning that goes into celebrating our mom or getting our prospective canine mothers prepped for their 9-week puppy rearing adventure, slips to the bottom of the “to do” list.

Luckily, most human moms are easy to please if we simply make a small effort to show that we care. An eleventh hour bouquet of flowers or a last minute lunch date is often enough to let mom know that she really matters, despite our procrastination. Unfortunately for the canine mothers in our life, procrastination in regards to planning a new dam’s first litter, can mean the difference between a healthy group of puppies and a sickly one. In addition to setting aside the time for veterinary health clearances of the heart, eyes, hips, and elbows, genetic testing of a new potential dam (or sire, for that matter) is of utmost importance to puppy health and the reputation of your breeding program. Unfortunately, accidentally putting off genetic testing until your dam is fully ready to breed ...

My Furry Valentine- Our Unconditional Love of Dogs

My Furry Valentine- Our Unconditional Love of Dogs

Love. True Love. The ever elusive feeling that everyone understands, but no one can quite explain. The feeling that we associate with our friends, spouses, children, and family members… especially the four-legged ones. The feeling that can make us feel as high as the clouds and as low as dirt. In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I contemplate the concept of unconditional love. In particular, unconditional love as it pertains to our dogs. I’m not sure what their secret is (and maybe they are conspiring together), but somehow dogs have tricked us into feeling the closest thing to unconditional love that is likely to exist.

Arguably, one of the major glues that holds love together is the feeling of trust. Like the trust that the one I love won’t vomit on my carpet or furniture on a semi-regular basis. Like the trust that my love won’t chew a hole in my socks and underwear when I leave to go to work. Like the trust that my love won’t embarrass me by relieving them self on the floor when company is over. All things that the dogs in my life have done… many times. Yet, still I love them.

Respect in the ...

The Newfoundland, the PICALM gene, and the SAS Controversy

The Newfoundland, the PICALM gene, and the SAS Controversy

Subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS), one of the most common inherited cardiac diseases in dogs, is a major concern for many owners of large breed dogs including the Newfoundland, golden retriever, American Staffordshire terrier and Rottweiler. SAS is caused by an abnormal ring or ridge of tissue in the left ventricle of the heart resulting in a partial obstruction of the left ventricular outflow tract; the pathway that allows blood to flow from the left ventricle, through the aortic valve and into the aorta which carries oxygenated blood to the body. In mild cases, dogs live a normal life, free of clinical signs related to the vessel narrowing. However, in moderate to severe cases of SAS, the increased strain placed upon the heart to pump blood through the partially obstructed aortic valve can result in structural changes of the heart muscle, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and sudden death. SAS also predisposes dogs to development of potentially lethal bacterial infections of the aortic valve. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict the severity of disease in puppies by examining the hearts of affected parents. Mildly affected parents can have severely affected puppies and vice versa. On average, SAS-affected dogs only live to ...

Amelogenesis Imperfecta: An Inherited Dental Disease of the Italian Greyhound

Amelogenesis Imperfecta: An Inherited Dental Disease of the Italian Greyhound

The Italian greyhound (IG) is a wonderful breed. As a true greyhound, the IG is happiest when provided an opportunity to exercise frequently. However, in their down time IGs are just as content laying on the couch with their human family. Their sweet demeanor combined with easy grooming has made this breed desirable to many. Unfortunately however, like most pure bred dogs, the IG can develop a handful of inherited diseases that make life a challenge for the breed and those that love them.

It isn’t a secret among IG aficionados that one of the biggest health concerns for the breed is their oral health. Though the exact reason is yet to be fully understood, it is not uncommon for IGs to develop early-onset dental disease resulting in significant problems in early adulthood. Though a commitment to daily tooth brushing can help prevent many dental issues, there is also an inherited dental disease in IGs that can now be eliminated through genetic testing of dams and sires prior to breeding!

In the “Health Concerns” section of the Italian Greyhound Club of America website, there is a discussion about “a condition in IG's where the teeth are small ...

Understanding complex inherited diseases in your dog

Understanding complex inherited diseases in your dog

When we look at the vast majority of genetic tests currently available for canine inherited diseases, we find a large number of diseases that can be predictably diagnosed with our current technology. For most of the available canine genetic tests, dog breeders understand that there are three commonly used designations applied to a dog for any given inherited disease; normal, carrier or affected. By knowing the way a disease is inherited (recessive vs dominant vs X-linked) and the number of copies of a mutation present in an individual, genetic testing laboratories like Paw Print Genetics can give predictable information about these diseases because they have a clear, 100% correlation between the cause and the illness. 

Unfortunately for dog breeders, inheritance is not always as clear cut as a simple recessive or dominant pattern. In fact, the diseases with a clear-cut inheritance pattern likely only make up a small percentage of the diseases with inherited components. Some of the most frustrating diseases for dog breeders and geneticists are those which pose an increased risk by the combined effects of multiple genetic mutations and/or environmental conditions. In these multifactorial diseases, rather than a 100% correlation between a singular genetic mutation ...

Inherited Diseases of the Beagle

Inherited Diseases of the Beagle

It’s easy to see why the beagle has been ranked near the top of AKC registered dog breeds since their acceptance in to the AKC registry in 1885.  Their amiable personality, fantastic sense of smell, and natural talent as a hunter and guard dog have kept them popular with American dog lovers for the past 130 years. Unfortunately, like most popular, purebred dog breeds, particular inherited diseases can make life tough for some beagle blood lines. Luckily, the genetic cause of some of the beagle’s known inherited diseases have been discovered. Thus, allowing laboratories such as Paw Print Genetics to develop genetic tests that allow for the elimination of these disorders through informed selective breeding. The following genetic tests are available at Paw Print Genetics:

Musladin-Lueke Syndrome

One of the largest inherited disease concerns for beagle breeders is a disease known as Musladin-Lueke Syndrome (MLS). MLS is listed on the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) as a required test for the beagle and is typically identified in affected puppies by 2 to 3 weeks of age. MLS is a connective tissue disease that causes stiff, contracted joints, and inelastic skin giving affected dogs a characteristic tip-toe walk described as ...

Inherited Diseases of the Border Collie

Inherited Diseases of the Border Collie

If you are a dog owner that values intelligence and obedience above all else when choosing a dog, it’s likely you are familiar with the border collie. This hardworking canine breed who received its name from its likely place of origin along the border of England and Scotland, has historically been bred for working ability above all and is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent breeds in the world. Though generally considered a relatively healthy breed, like other purebred dog breeds, the border collie is known to inherit several genetic diseases; some of which are known to be caused by specific genetic mutations. Discovery of the specific mutations responsible for genetic diseases allow laboratories like Paw Print Genetics to develop tests to identify dogs that carry the mutation. This information allows breeders to selectively breed these carrier dogs to dogs that are clear of the mutation in order to avoid producing puppies with these diseases. Three specific inherited diseases are listed on the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) website as optional recommended tests for the border collie. Testing for these diseases is available from Paw Print Genetics:

Collie Eye Anomaly

One of the biggest inherited disease concerns for ...