Pedigree dogs have a large number of well documented genetic
diseases. These are conditions which adversely affect the
canine patient as a result of inheriting the particular
gene or genes from their parents.
The most well recognised genetic disease in dogs is probably
hip dysplasia. This condition can lead to severe osteoarthritis
even in very young patients causing pain and limited function
eventually necessitating new artificial hips.
The main method of controlling this problem has been to
identify affected dogs with x-rays and avoid breeding from
them. Some breeds such as the Otterhound or Clumber Spaniel
are so commonly affected that it is very difficult to own
this kind of dog without having the problem.
Most current research both in humans and animals involves
trying to unravel the genetic code in the laboratory from
blood samples taken from individual patients. If the affected
gene or genes can be identified then that individual should
be stopped from future breeding. Unfortunately, some diseases
like hip dysplasia are very complex involving many genes.
With a limited number of breeding stock available it may
be that if you want to avoid a certain problem you have
to stop breeding that particular breed of dog!
Some dog breeders are much more proactive than others in
endeavouring to ensure that as far as possible their puppies
are healthy and free from disease. The owner of collies
Buddy, Jenny and Kiera is at the fore front of worldwide
technology by having bloodsamples from her dogs sent to
Australia to have their genetic code unravelled for such
conditions as Collie Eye Anomaly and Trapped Neutrophil
Having recently returned from a visit to Auschwitz I can
fully understand why genetic screening and selection is
a very controversial topic in human medicine. However in
animals it would appear to be a much more straight forward
Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS
to "Interesting Cases"
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