Tag archives: canine

To Anyone Dedicated to Breeding Better Dogs, an open letter by Cheryl Hass

To Anyone Dedicated to Breeding Better Dogs, an open letter by Cheryl Hass

Brief personal history as credentials . . .

In the world of dog breeding, I started long before any genetic testing was readily available, with Chesapeakes, more than 25 years ago now. We performed OFA Hips and that was about it. Then I went back to my herding dog roots with Australian Shepherds, Miniature Australian Shepherds and now Miniature American Shepherds. What I have to say about genetic testing however, applies regardless of breed.

Some of you that have been in this for a while, may remember a company that offered a slew of testing, all in one package, for $25. It was the hottest item on the market. I remember feeling very virtuous about being able to test all my dogs, for a reasonable price, for a whole bunch of things that I didn't understand at the time. But as breeders we educated ourselves, found out that testing really DOES matter and learned how to breed away from some of the unfortunate genetics that our dogs carried. It really was an exciting time in breeding because it gave us such powerful, valuable information that increased the overall health of the dogs we produced. The problem was that this company was not all ...

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 ...

Genetics 101: Dominant and recessive traits in your dogs

Genetics 101: Dominant and recessive traits in your dogs

The field of genetics has progressed rapidly in recent years.  Perhaps you’ve seen headlines about these top genetic topics in 2013. These stories show the importance of genetics and how it affects us as individuals and as a society.  To understand the impact, though, one may need a review of Genetics 101: dominant vs. recessive disease traits.

In order for our bodies to work properly, our DNA must be coded in specific sequences.  DNA sequences are grouped into units called genes, which tell our bodies what to make to build cells and metabolize nutrients.  We are all a unique combination of re-shuffled genes from previous generations.  Everything from eye, hair and skin color, muscle, bone, etc. is coded by genes.  A mutation in a gene usually causes something to change and many of these changes can lead to disease. There are thousands of genes, and in humans, thousands of genetic disorders that result from mutations. 

One way to classify genetic disorders is to group them by how they are inherited.  With the exception of the sex chromosomes, X and Y, each of us has two copies of our genes.  One comes from ...

The Chronic Disease That is Killing Our Dogs

The Chronic Disease That is Killing Our Dogs

If your dog is an average American canine, there is approximately 50% likelihood that your dog has a chronic disease that increases chances of osteoarthritis, heart disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, and endocrine disease. In addition, this disease is also known to significantly decrease life expectancy. The most unfortunate aspect of this condition is that it is completely preventable, yet only a small fraction of dog owners take the necessary precautions to prevent this disease of malnutrition in their dogs. This disease is canine obesity.

Unless you avoid all news and cultural commentaries, you are likely aware of the human obesity epidemic in America and other countries around the world. According to the report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future”, a collaborative work by Trust for America’s Health (www.healthyamericans.org) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as of 2010, 68.7% of American adults over 19 years of age were overweight or obese (“Overweight” is defined as a body mass index, or BMI, over 25 and “Obese” is defined as a BMI over 30 - BMI Calculator). In addition, the rapidity at which the increase in human obesity has occurred is ...