Glossary

Definitions for terms commonly found on our site.

Allele
One of several alternative forms of a gene sequence at a specific Locus
Alopecia
A condition where some or all hair is lost from the head and/or other parts of the body
Amino Acid
Organic compounds that combine to form proteins
Anemia
Decrease in number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood
Ataxia
The loss of voluntary coordinated movement of the body indicating an underlying neurologic issue
Atrophy
The partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body, such as the muscles
Autosomal Dominant
A pattern of inheritance in which an affected dog has one copy of a gene that contains a change or Mutation and one normal gene on a pair of chromosomes. Offspring have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease causing gene.
Autosomal Recessive
A pattern of inheritance in which an affected dog must have two copies of an abnormal gene in order to present with the disease or trait.
Cardiovascular
A broad category of diseases that affect the heart and/or blood vessels.
Carrier
A dog that has only one copy of an abnormal gene for a recessive disease. Carriers are not typically expected to have any features of the disease but are at risk of passing on the disease to offspring if bred with another Carrier of the same condition.
Cataract
A clouding of the lens inside the eye which leads to a decrease in vision.
Cerebellum
A structure in the brain known to control voluntary movements of the body
Cerebrospinal Fluid
Clear fluid in the spinal cord and surrounding the brain that acts as a cushion, protecting the brain and spine from injury
Chromosome
An organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells which encodes most or all of the dog's genetic information. Each cell of the dog contains 78 chromosomes or 39 pairs.
Collagen
A protein that is the main component of Connective Tissue including ligaments, tendon, bone and skin
Coloboma
A key-hole shaped defect of the eye that is present from birth
Cone Cells
Photoreceptor Cells in the Retina of the eye that are responsible for color vision, especially in bright light
Connective Tissue
A fibrous type of tissue that provides support for other tissues
Cryptorchidism
Failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum
Dementia
Changes in awareness, deficits in learning and memory, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli that typically progress over time
Electroretinogram
An eye test that evaluates the function of the photoreceptor (Rod and cone) cells of the Retina
Enzyme
Complex proteins that cause a specific chemical change in all parts of the body
Exon
The segments of a gene whose sequence is expressed by formation of messenger RNA and (usually) protein
Glaucoma
Increased pressure within the eye
Haplotype
A series of alleles found at linked loci on a single Chromosome
Hemorrhage
Excessive bleeding
Heterozygous
Having two different alleles at a particular Locus
Homozygous
Having identical alleles at a particular Locus
Hyperparathyroidism
Over-secretion of the parathyroid hormone from the parathyroid glands.
Hypocalcemia
Excessive calcium in the blood
Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar
Hypomineralization
Insufficient levels of minerals, typically referring to bone and teeth
Hysterectomy
Removal of a female dog's uterus
In Utero
Before birth; in a uterus.
Inclusion Bodies
Distinct aggregates of protein in a cell that are visible using a microscope
Incomplete Penetrance
Individual has the Mutation but does not show signs of the disease
Locus
The specific site of a gene on a Chromosome
Lysosomal Storage Disorder
A group of metabolic disorders that are characterized by the absence of a specific Enzyme that is important in the breaking down of specific substances in the body. Deficiencies in the enzyme lead to abnormal accumulation of substances within the body and can lead to severe health problems in affected dogs.
Melanin
A natural substance that gives color (pigment) to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye
Metabolic Acidosis
Occurs when the body produces too much acid, or when the kidneys are not removing enough acid from the body
Mitochondrial Inheritance
A pattern of inheritance in which traits are passed to the offspring only from the mother through DNA encoded within a cellular organelle called the mitochondrion. Dogs with a mitochondrial disease may be male or female but the condition is always inherited through the maternal line. Male dogs do not pass the condition on to future offspring.
Mitochondrion (Plural Mitochondria)
An organelle of the cell that creates energy through a series of biochemical reactions. Mitochondria have their own DNA called mtDNA.
Mucous Membrane
A mucus secreting layer of tissue lining cavities exposed to the external environment such as the mouth, nose, genitals, esophagus and rectum.
Musculoskeletal
A broad category of diseases that affect the muscles and/or bones.
Mutation
The change from the normal to an altered form of a particular gene
Myelin
An insulating layer, made of protein and fatty substances, that surrounds nerves and aids in a more rapid and efficient transmission of impulses along the the nerve cells
Myopathy
A muscular disease in which the muscle fibers do not function for any one of many reasons, resulting in muscular weakness
Neuromuscular Disease
A broad category of diseases that affect the muscles and/or the direct nervous system control
Neutrophil
White blood cells that aid the immune system to fight bacteria and infection
Nystagmus
An involuntary, rapid and repetitive movement of the eyes. Usually the movement is side-to-side (horizontal Nystagmus), but it can also be up and down (vertical nystagmus) or circular (rotary nystagmus).
Pathogen
An infectious agent, such as a bacteria or virus, that causes disease in its host.
Penetrance
The frequency with which a dog that genetically known to have a specific disease will develop symptoms or traits of that disease.
Photophobia
Discomfort of the eye when exposed to bright light.
Photoreceptor Cells
Specialized cells (rods and cones) located in the Retina of the eye that transmit visual information.
Platelets
Blood cells that play an important role in the normal clotting of blood.
Pupillary Response
The reduction of pupil size in response to light.
Retina
The light sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye.
Rickets
Soft, weak bones caused by deficiencies in vitamin D, phosporus or calcium.
Rod
Photoreceptor Cells in the Retina of the eye that are responsible for vision, especially in dim light.
Sertoli Cell Tumor
A tumor that develops primarily in the testes but may rarely occur in the ovaries.
Sex-Limited
A disease that is genetically inherited equally by both males and females, but may only present with symptoms in one of the sexes.
Tapetum
A reflective layer of tissue lying behind the Retina in the eye of dogs, which allows for superior vision in low light conditions.
Ureter
Tubes which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Urethra
Tube which carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
Variable Expressivity
Refers to individuals who have the Mutation, but their clinical presentation may vary from mild to severe.
White Matter
Tissue in the brain and spinal cord that contains nerve fibers. Many of these nerve fibers are surrounded by a type of fat called Myelin which gives the whitish appearance to the White Matter.
X-Linked Inheritance
A pattern of inheritance in which the transmission of traits varies according to the sex of the dog, because the genes on the X Chromosome have no counterparts on the Y chromosome. The inheritance pattern may be recessive or dominant. The trait determined by a gene on the X chromosome is always expressed in males. Transmission from male to male does not occur.
X-Linked Recessive
Defines genes located on the X Chromosome. Because males have only one X chromosome, these diseases are expressed mainly in male dogs.