Tag archives: ataxia

Degenerative Myelopathy- An Owner’s Perspective

Degenerative Myelopathy- An Owner’s Perspective

One of the happiest days of my life was bringing home a German shepherd puppy to join our family. Like many parents, my wife and I wanted our only son Brandon, who was 5 or 6 years old at the time, to grow up around dogs and help us teach him some responsibility. We visited a family with a litter of 7 week old puppies to let Brandon pick the one that was going to be his buddy while he grew up. Brandon decided on the quietest pup in the litter to become our new dog, Griffey. Our journey with Griffey (Griff for short) began with Brandon and his new companion in the back of our convertible in route to the home we were excited to share with our new family member. My wife and I were hopeful that Griff would give Brandon a best friend for 10 to 13 years. Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly how things worked out.

Signs of Trouble

We spent many years loving Griff and giving him the best years of his life. Brandon and Griff were inseparable as they aged. They played together, they napped together, and they got into trouble together. At about 8 ...

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 ...

Preventing Inherited L-2-HGA in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Preventing Inherited L-2-HGA in the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Despite its 19th century reputation as a ferocious and fearless competitor in the cruel sport of dog fighting, the modern, well-bred Staffordshire bull terrier (SBT) is an affectionate, friendly, and loyal companion. At only 24 to 38 pounds, the SBT’s impressive, muscular frame is now a relic from a distant time when dogs slept in the backyard instead of the bedroom and often proved their worth through the use of their agility, strength, tenacity, and teeth. Through nearly a century of careful selective breeding for temperament, the SBT has become as suitable for the family as they once were for the fighting ring. As with other purebred dogs, along the path of breed improvement, the SBT has developed some inherited diseases that have caused problems for SBT owners and breeders alike. One of the most concerning inherited diseases in the SBT is the neurometabolic disorder commonly referred to by the acronym L-2-HGA; short for L-2 hydroxyglutaric aciduria.

What is L-2-HGA?

Dogs affected with L-2-HGA lack functional copies of a protein important in eliminating L-2 hydroxyglutaric acid (a normal product of metabolism) from the body. As a result, L-2 hydroxyglutaric acid accumulates in the urine, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid. Though ...

Misconceptions About Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Misconceptions About Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

If there is anything that I have learned in Paw Print Genetics’ quest to prevent canine inherited diseases, it is that degenerative myelopathy (DM) is one of the most misunderstood diseases in the dog breeding community. This late-onset, progressive neurological disease is notorious for cutting affected dog’s lives short and preventing them from living out their golden years. Unfortunately, sometimes there are misunderstandings in regard to what causes DM, what DM genetic test results mean, and whether or not DM occurs in certain breeds or bloodlines. I will attempt to address the confusing aspects of DM in order to empower people to eliminate this devastating disease from their blood lines.

How Do DM Affected Dogs Present? How is it Inherited?

Dogs affected with DM typically begin showing signs of painless, hind limb weakness and loss of balance around 7 to 10 years of age. These dogs often have difficulty rising after lying down, will drag their hind feet while walking, and abnormally cross their legs while standing. As the disease progresses, affected dogs’ front limbs also become progressively weaker until the dog becomes unable to walk. Affected dogs also may develop urinary and fecal incontinence as the disease progresses. Most ...

Preventing Inherited Ataxias and Primary Lens Luxation in the Parson Russell Terrier and Related Breeds

Preventing Inherited Ataxias and Primary Lens Luxation in the Parson Russell Terrier and Related Breeds

Previously known as the Jack Russell terrier, the Parson Russell terrier’s nearly 200 year long history began in the 1800’s when Parson John Russell of England obtained a terrier named Scout with the purpose of training him for European red fox hunting. Russell eventually developed a particularly adept line of terriers meant to run alongside hunters on horseback and dispatch foxes.

The name, Jack Russell Terrier was previously used to encompass dogs which are now recognized as three separate breeds in the U.S, the Jack Russell terrier, the Parson Russell terrier, and the Russell terrier. Despite their close genetic relationship and very similar appearance, leg length and body shape can be used to help differentiate the three breeds. Parson Russell terriers possess the longest legs and a square-shaped body while the other two breeds display shorter legs and a rectangular body shape. The Russell terrier is the shortest of the three varieties. Parson Russell terriers and Russell terriers are both recognized by the AKC, however the Jack Russell Terrier remains unrecognized by the organization and is bred primarily for its ability to hunt rather than for its conformational merits. Despite these physical differences, the three breeds share many genetic similarities ...

Degenerative Myelopathy and Von Willebrand Disease I in the Bernese Mountain Dog

Degenerative Myelopathy and Von Willebrand Disease I in the Bernese Mountain Dog

From their roots as a well-rounded Swiss farm dog, the modern Bernese mountain dog (BMD) is well known for its friendly and affectionate demeanor. This intelligent and adaptable breed has gained the love of many Americans since its introduction to the United States in 1926. In 2014 the BMD moved to 31st place in the AKC registration statistics and appears to be growing in popularity as the breed has moved up 8 places in the rankings since 2009.

Like many purebred dogs, the Bernese mountain dog is known to inherit some health issues that are of major concern to breeders. Unfortunately, genetic discoveries for some of the most concerning inherited issues for BMD breeders, such as a type of cancer known as histiocytic sarcoma, have remained elusive. However, some inherited diseases of Bernese mountain dogs can be avoided through the use of genetic testing technologies and selective breeding practices.

Degenerative Myelopathy

The late-onset neurological disease, degenerative myelopathy (DM) is one such disease that can be prevented through genetic testing. In 2009, a mutation in the canine SOD1 gene was described as a major cause of DM. Since then, the mutation has been reported in over 100 dog breeds including ...

Preventable Inherited Diseases of the Old English Sheepdog- Part Two

Preventable Inherited Diseases of the Old English Sheepdog- Part Two

 In this second blog of a two part blog series (read part one here) about inherited diseases of the wonderful old English sheepdog (OES), we will examine two inherited diseases reported in multiple dog breeds in addition to the OES.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Historically a disease associated with the German shepherd dog, degenerative myelopathy (DM) has now been identified in over 100 dog breeds. A canine disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) which affects people, DM is a late-onset neurological disease caused by a mutation in the SOD1 gene. Affected dogs initially present around 7 to 10 years of age with weakness in the hind limbs and difficulty rising after lying down. As affected dogs gradually lose the ability to fully control their hind limbs, it is common for them to begin dragging their hind feet while walking and may occasionally lose their balance and fall over. In some circumstances, affected dogs will also suffer from urinary and/or fecal incontinence. Once initial signs of disease present, progression of the neurological dysfunction to the front limbs tends to be rapid with most dogs losing the ability to walk within 6 months to two years.

Diseases with a late ...

Exercise-Induced Collapse and Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis in the Labrador Retriever

Exercise-Induced Collapse and Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis in the Labrador Retriever

In this third part of a four part blog series examining preventable inherited diseases in the Labrador retriever (See previous blogs here; part one and part two) we will be examining a relatively common neuromuscular condition known as exercise-induced collapse and a skin disorder unique to the Labrador known as hereditary nasal parakeratosis.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

There aren’t many inherited diseases more concerning to Labrador lovers than exercise-induced collapse (EIC). This potentially fatal condition caused by a mutation in the DNM1 gene results in an inability to produce adequate amounts of a protein called dynamin 1, which plays an important role in nerve signal transmission in the body. As its name suggests, dogs affected with EIC typically present during periods of intense exercise, often before 2 years of age. During an episode of collapse, affected dogs will commonly develop an awkward, wobbly gait that progresses to severe weakness, dragging of the hind limbs, and collapse lasting for 5 to 10 minutes. Though unable to rise, dogs experiencing an episode of collapse are usually mentally alert and pain-free. Most dogs completely recover within 30 minutes and appear normal between episodes. Most concerning however, is that in some cases affected dogs can progress ...

Degenerative Myelopathy and Centronuclear Myopathy in the Labrador Retriever

Degenerative Myelopathy and Centronuclear Myopathy in the Labrador Retriever

It’s not hard to love a Labrador retriever. Their outgoing, family friendly personality, great rapport with children, receptiveness to training, and their ability to hunt both waterfowl and upland game have made them a highly desirable and well-loved breed. This popularity is reflected by their place at the top of the American Kennel Club’s registration statistics for the past 24 consecutive years.

When adopting or purchasing a new canine family member or hunting companion, we would all like to know that our enormous investments in love, time, and money will see a sizable return. For a family dog, we’d like to know that they will be healthy and live as long as possible. For a hunting or working dog, in addition to a long life, we’d also like to know they will be able to have a long, healthy career performing the specific task for which we’ve prepared them. Though we could never eliminate or predict all disease risks for our dogs, genetic testing technologies have made elimination and prediction of some inherited diseases easier than ever before.

This blog is the first of a four part blog series examining preventable inherited diseases of America’s favorite dog, the Labrador retriever. What ...

Polyneuropathy: A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Greyhound

Polyneuropathy: A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Greyhound

From their ancient Egyptian roots depicted in carvings of their predecessors, the speed and agility of the greyhound has long fascinated humans who found great potential in the breed as hunting companions, and much later, as fantastic family dogs. Like other members of the large grouping of dog breeds known as sighthounds, it was obvious to their ancient human handlers that the greyhound’s exceptional athletic skill, lean muscular body, and keen vision could be invaluable for hunting both large and small game. While it is no longer as common for greyhounds to be used for hunting, their docile temperament outside of the hunt contributed to an easy transition to the more domestic lifestyle most greyhounds now live. Though able to run 40 miles per hour when properly conditioned, with regular exercise the greyhound is just as content taking it easy with their human family members. Despite their majestic appearance and impressive athletic attributes, like other purebred dogs, greyhounds are known to inherit some genetic diseases that may keep this talented runner at the starting block. One such disease, known as greyhound polyneuropathy (GP), is caused by a mutation in the NDRG1 gene.

GP is a severe, progressive neurological disease similar ...