Breeding genetic problems; epilepsy etc - Page 4

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by jillmissal on 14 February 2020 - 11:02

"If a dog is known to produce consistently Epilepsy, in every single one of his litters, that's a different story. Then I'd toss that dog out. But a 2% chance? Are ya'll for real?"

Uh, yes, because that's not how epilepsy works. Even if the clinical signs don't present, the dog still has the genetics for it. Just like hip dysplasia. And can pass it on...and on...and on...and we NEVER get rid of it. If I see a breeder saying this kind of thing that is a RED FLAG and no one should ever, ever buy from that person. No dog is so good that a major health problem isn't an eliminator. 

I wish breeders had to be tested and licensed to display a basic understanding of genetics and biology. 

was wondering where the initial 2% figure came from. Maybe Jill can explain where she got that from,


2% is the general accepted likelihood of a human passing epilepsy on to an offspring. So it might not be correct in dogs but at least it's a place to start. 


@ koots one correction regarding petit mal seizures.  A petite mal is not just a lesser version of a grand mal. A petite mal is an absence seizure - staring and blinking are common. If the dog is having spasmodic movements of a limb, usually the same every occurrence, that is a grand mal seizure no matter how mild or dramatic the symptoms. 

by jillmissal on 14 February 2020 - 11:02

Also @koots and others - ideopathic or "unknown cause" epilepsy is thought to have a genetic component. That's why they rule everything else out with MRIs etc. Epilepsy is not a "disease" per se; it's a disorder. The gene(s) responsible have not been identified but the fact that it runs in families definitely has.


by Koots on 14 February 2020 - 11:02


Research groups have described in collaboration a novel myoclonic epilepsy in dogs and identified its genetic cause......As a result, a genetic test was developed for veterinary diagnostics and breeding programs.

A collaborative study describes a novel myoclonic epilepsy syndrome in dogs for the first time and discovers its genetic cause at DIRAS1 gene. The affected dogs developed myoclonic seizures at young age -- on average 6 months old -- and seizures occur typically at rest. In some of the dogs the seizures could be triggered by light.

We screened over 600 Rhodesian Ridgebacks and about 1000 epileptic dogs in other breeds and found that the DIRAS1 defect was specific for juvenile myoclonic epilepsy in Rhodesian Ridgebacks so far, says MSc Sarviaho.

With the help of the genetic test, veterinarians can diagnose this specific epilepsy in their canine patients while breeders will be able to identify carriers and revise the breeding plans to avoid future affected puppies. About 15% of the dogs in the breed carry the DIRAS1 mutation and dogs all over Europe and beyond are affected, says DVM Franziska Wieländer from LMU Munich.

This article is specifically stating Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, but with further study then perhaps genetic links will be found in other breeds, including the GSD.



by jillmissal on 14 February 2020 - 11:02

@koots that's an awesome article.

Regarding the breeding question - I think if a breed's breeding stock is so condensed that breeders must accept genetic diseases to "expand the gene pool" or what have you, that breed is done and should no longer be bred at all.


by Melz78 on 18 February 2020 - 18:02

I just got a GSD pup and as soon as he arrived took him to be checked out by our vet who found a heart murmur. I agreed to pay a $2500 price point due to wanting to breed him and take him to shows but the vet strongly suggested against it, stating it is carried through genes and he got it from his parents who don't necessarily have to have it but maybe breeding between this mom and dad is just not a good mix.
This was his mom's first litter so I started looking through the 8-week vet paperwork that breeder sent me and noticed during their checkups their vet listed a heart murmur on one of the girls from the same litter but it apparently went away by the time she went to her new home at 8 wks.

I don't really have any experience with something like this so I paid for echocardiography praying that the vet was wrong but it came back with a congenital high perimembranous VSD and absolutely not recommended to breed these dogs, having to do periodic evaluation and monitoring and repeat of echocardiography in 3-6 months.

After bringing this up to the breeder's attention, I was offered to return the puppy (first paid $500 to get him to me, than would have to pay $500 to return him, then again $500 to deliver another pup) and would have to wait 8 months or so for the next litter. What got me really ticked off is that they would maybe send me a pup from another female and same dad but most likely from the same parents which I declined. I don't want to go through this again especially if it is genetic but in the end we had already bonded with this little baby and decided to keep him and give him the best life we can no matter what that turns out to be.

Something just bugs me that after having all this proof and showing it to the breeder they are still going to breed those 2 same parents who are absolutely stunning, no doubt about it. I haven't left a bad review anywhere but almost feel responsible to tell my story. Anyone had a similar situation and have any suggestions?

by hexe on 18 February 2020 - 22:02

You're not the first person who's found themselves in this position, unfotunately, and yes, some breeders will repeat a particular pairing even if one of more of the pups in the first litter from the pair had a serious congenital defect. I'm not a breeder, but if I were, I would feel obligated to, at the very least, refund a significant part of the purchase price, since you want to keep this puppy--by committing to keeping him, you're relieving the breeder of the responsibility to find another home for a pup who has now been documented as not being show and breeding quality due to a hereditary abnormality that potentially could lead to above-average medical expenses...that's beneficial to the breeder.

Why do breeders repeat these pairings? There's many reasons\excuses\justifications; some are reasonable, while others are indicative of the breeder's selfishness. If a pairing produced a single pup with a serious defect, such as one involving any of the internal organs, but the rest of the litter have absolutely no health issues evident by the time the dam is due for her next heat, some breeders will feel it to be worth the gamble to repeat the breeding of the quality of the litter overall is extraordinary enough to warrant doing so. Others will do it even if the rest of the pups are just average, because they don't think one pup with a serious birth defect shouldn't make them rethink their breeding plans, or alter their tax-free income stream.

Less serious defects, such as retained testicles, soft ears or missing premolars, are more often considered to be an acceptable trade-off if the litter has specific qualities that are more valuable to the quality of the life the pups are expected to lead. A litter where the majority will be going to pet homes needs sound temperament and low reactivity far more than they'll need two testes in the scrotum or all of the pre-molars, for example.

It's not possible to eliminate every dog that has sired or given birth to congenitally defective offspring, or there would be very few breeding candidates to even consider. The ethical breeder does their research, gathers as much info as possible about the dogs they are considering pairing--and about the littermates of those candidates and THEIR offspring --and then tries to make the best-educated decisions in an effort to bring healthy, mentally- and physically- sound puppies into the world.

by jillmissal on 21 February 2020 - 10:02

That breeder should have just refunded you. This is just general business sense.

Breeding in general seems to attract some really shady characters.


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