Category archives: Trixie's Paw Prints

Canine Genetic Counseling

Canine Genetic Counseling

A fascinating and enlightening weekend was enjoyed by those attending the AKC-CHF Parent Club health conference in St. Louis, MO August 9-11.  Thank you to the AKC-CHF and sponsor Nestle Purina for hosting such a fun, educational, informative and classy event!  I was able to attend many presentations on new gene discoveries and gene testing/diagnostics available and coming for our dogs. In addition, I learned about new treatments and therapies including stem cell therapy for injuries, certainly not my area of expertise but absolutely fascinating and exciting for the future of dogs and man!

Something I noticed from many attendees with regard to new genetic testing were many questions and a seeming frustration and/or concern about what to do with this new information - namely what does a dog "with the gene" mean for the breeding of that dog?  One thing that people were told was that dogs may have a dominant gene and in turn have the potential to produce affected puppies, but that they should be concerned about the "gene pool" and about removing dogs with the gene from breeding, especially if a large percentage of dogs in the breed have the gene mutation ...

Paw Print Genetics Launches New Tests

Paw Print Genetics Launches New Tests

After extensive laboratory validation, Paw Print Genetics has launched 29 new breed-specific tests, bringing the total number of tests offered to 115.  This is one of the largest menus offered by any canine genetic testing laboratory in the world.

Among the new tests are diseases that no other laboratory offers in North America are multifocal retinopathy in the American bulldog, myotonia congenita in the Australian cattle dog, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis in the Australian shepherd and dachshund, hemophilia B in the beagle, copper storage disease in the Bedlington terrier, complement 3 (C3) deficiency in the Brittany, ichthyosis in the golden retriever, inherited myopathy in great Dane, startle disease in Irish wolfhound, and severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) in Russell terrier, just to name a few.

Search our website to find more new tests for your favorite breed or the specific diseases that most concern you.

Paw Print Genetics offers three approaches to testing depending on whether you are screening for potential carriers or testing for affected dogs: 

In the first approach, choose only those diseases that concern you; choose one or more tests.

For the second approach, choose the breed-specific panel that has been carefully selected based on the medical ...

The Tragedy of Canine Genetic Disease

The Tragedy of Canine Genetic Disease

Dedicated in loving memory of Rigel - the blue star Afghan - may his star burn brightly.

Many understand the "need for canine health testing".  People will dutifully test their dog’s hips, eyes (CERF exam), maybe elbows, thyroid, knees and the one DNA test for the BIG recessive genetic disease that has been known to exist in their breed for years.  This sequence is what they have been taught that they must do to be a responsible breeder by the forefathers in their breed clubs.  But how much do people really understand the need for genetic testing?

What about uncommon genetic disease in the breed?  Every individual carries recessive non-working or disease genes; many of which are uncommon and can run silently in the family for generations before two carriers are bred together and produce affected puppies.   It has often been touted that one reason for inbreeding is to identify and weed out recessive disorders, but how often is this actually done?  If the problem is uncommon and unknown, affected individuals, especially those that die young, can go undiagnosed, especially if each and every puppy is not extensively evaluated.   So the problem occurs unrecognized, unidentified and ...

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself About Your Breeder!

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself About Your Breeder!

As discussed in my last blog, before buying a puppy, there are many things that the careful and wise buyer wants to educate themselves about to ensure the best experience possible.  Once you have figured out which breed(s) suits/interests you and have educated yourself about the positives, negatives and potential issues, including health issues, the final step is to find possible breeders of interest and most importantly at long last - your puppy!  Many breeders are doing their due diligence to produce and raise the best puppies possible.   0thers are just giving this lip service, and with all the seemingly "right" answers to questions, it is not always easy to tell the difference.

No one can guarantee a healthy puppy.  Just like human couples that do "everything right" during the  pregnancy will say "we do not care if we have a boy or a girl, as long as the baby is healthy".  Even with the utmost of caution, things can and do go wrong.  Some have perpetuated the notion that a responsible breeder can guarantee a perfect and normal outcome in every way and that anything wrong is the breeder's fault.  Just ...

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself!

Before You Buy Your Puppy - Educate Yourself!

Before buying a puppy, there are many things that the careful and wise buyer wants to educate themselves about in order to have the best experience with what should be many happy years with their dog.  First questions are about yourself and what type of dog will best suit you.  Then it is important to learn about the breed, what are the positive and negative attributes, and what health and genetic issues the breed, or particular family of dogs, may be at risk for.  Finally, it is then important to find a breeder whose goals and investment coincide with yours.

The first thing to consider in purchasing a puppy is what type of dog do you want?  Or better stated, what are the qualities in a dog that will get along well with your personality and activity level.  Do you want a puppy at all?    Do you want to raise a puppy; socialize it, potty train it, teach it commands, and, in general, how to be a model canine citizen?  This involves living through the stages of puddles and landmines, puppy chewing with the potential destruction of some of your favorite items, adolescence ...

Are There Risks for Genetic Disease with Cross-breeding?

Are There Risks for Genetic Disease with Cross-breeding?

Some people will say that there is little or no risk for genetic disease in crossbreeding and no need for genetic testing by virtue of the fact that the dogs are crossbred. I use Progressive Retinal Atrophy as an example to illustrate the potential genetic consequences of such breeding, but the premise and the potential risk for disease holds true for any possible genetic condition that affects dogs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited progressive eye disease that affects the part of the eye called the retina.  Light striking special cells of the retina (primarily photoreceptor cells called rods and cones) leads to the creation of the picture that is seen by the brain.  The retina is often compared to the film of a camera.  PRAs can progress from vision impairment, to night blindness or to hesitancy in certain situations and lead ultimately to total blindness.  Total blindness in a PRA affected dog may not be recognized until they are taken to an unfamiliar environment while other dogs may be recognized far earlier due to dilated pupils, an attempt by the eye to let in more light, and eye shine that occurs when the retina ...

Canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or Batten disease

Canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or Batten disease

The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses are a group of inherited lysosomal storage disorders.  Lysosomes are structures in cells referred to as the stomach of the cell that breakdown waste products and other byproducts in the cell.  NCL affected dogs lack one of several enzymes necessary for the normal breakdown of certain types of fat or protein in the cells (called lipopigments.)  As this "debris" accumulates in neuronal cells (and to a lesser extent in other cells), the animal's mental and motor functions deteriorate.

Dogs with NCL start out as apparently normal and fully functional dogs.  Depending on which subtype of NCL they have, they will begin developing symptoms anywhere from 6 months to 4-6 years of age (for the adult onset varieties).  NCL is found in both humans and dogs as well as other species and share symptoms that include a progressive loss of mental and physical nervous system functions.    These exhibit as mental/intellectual decline and motor disturbance progressing to seizures, motor problems such as lack of muscle coordination, abnormal gait, difficulty balancing, visual disturbances progressing to blindness and behavioral changes including aggressiveness, dementia, aimless wandering behavior with episodes of confusion, depression and ...

"Health Guarantees" when Buying or Selling a Puppy?

"Health Guarantees" when Buying or Selling a Puppy?

In a continuation of our discussion of puppy "health guarantees" the question is: is it feasible to expect breeders to guarantee against all congenital and genetic defects and what should breeders guarantee or promise?  It is a pervasive "wisdom" that "good" breeders will only produce healthy puppies with no genetic problems or congenital defects and a "responsible breeder" certainly would never sell a puppy with a congenital or genetic defect.  This has long been a stated or implied expectation that breeders have placed on themselves and others and a notion that has passed on as conventional wisdom regarding the purchase of a puppy.   As a result, when a problem occurs, it is to be approached with chagrin, shame or denial on the part of the breeder and blame placed on the breeder by others.  But is this expectation reasonable?    Is expecting breeders to recognize the presence of all congenital defects even feasible?

Articles like Empowering international canine inherited disorder management by BJ Wilson and CM Wade published in Mammalian Genome in Feb of 2012and the increasing volume of canine health and genetic research illustrates the reality of genetic risk inherent in dog breeding ...

"Health Guarantees" when Buying a Puppy

"Health Guarantees" when Buying a Puppy

For as long as I can remember, when someone was purchasing a purebred puppy from a pet store (as my family did when I was a kid) or from a breeder, that puppy came with a "health guarantee".  If anything was wrong with the puppy you could return that puppy for a "full refund".  For some, offering the health guarantee is a "get out of jail free card" because of the "catch".  The catch being that the person who purchased the puppy had to return the puppy/dog in order to get their money back.  Of course the vast majority of people will have fallen in love with the puppy by then and will not give them up for any amount of money.

Some people will see that a "health guarantee" is offered and say  "oh-that means this is a reputable seller/breeder".  The presence of a health guarantee certainly does not ensure that the puppy was well bred or that the breeder is ethical.  It partially depends on the "fine print" of the health guarantee.  Nevertheless--a "health guarantee" is a standard practice among dog breeding, selling and purchasing.  People purchasing a ...

Paw Print Genetics Community Events are Important

Paw Print Genetics Community Events are Important

Paw Print Genetics is committed to excellence in customer service. To that end, we are reaching out to our potential customer base by providing seminars to various breed, specialty and community clubs, becoming involved in individual breeder’s breeding programs and attending dog shows.  We attended the Rose City Classic dog show in Portland, Ore in January and talked with hundreds of attendees that were concerned about the genetic health of their dog.  The breeders and dog owners expressed the desire to do informed breeding whereby they use genetic information to avoid producing puppies with inherited disease and eventually “breed out” the genetic diseases to produce healthier lines.

We have provided seminars on genetics to several clubs in the Spokane, Wash area including the Inland Empire Collie Club, Panorama Poodle Club of Mt. Spokane, and the Inland Empire Kennel Association.  We are delighted to provide these presentations as it gives us an opportunity to interact with club members and really understand their needs and concerns regarding inherited genetic disease.

This week, we will be at the Spokane Kennel Club dog show at the Spokane County Fairgrounds, Friday-Sunday, May 24-26.  Please stop by our booth to talk about ...