Epilepsy from German bred sires - Page 1

Pedigree Database


by LilyDexter on 04 November 2006 - 21:11

Has anybody experienced symptoms of epilepsy in dogs of german breeding? These symptoms could range from tail chasing, barking for no reason, rage like aggression, self mutilation, head nodding, indifference to owner, impaired learning skills,fly catching or actual fits, etc. My puppy has been diagnosed as having an inflammatory disease of the nervous system, but also that there is a possibility that she could be suffering from 'GSD epilepsy'. Confirmation of the diagnosis would depend on identifying relatives with epileptic symptoms. She is currently on phenobarbital which is managing her symptoms, but further drastic treatment has been advised unless we can prove that it is epilepsy. My bitch is bred from top German lines, & there has been another site user whose pup, also from top german lines was diagnosed as epileptic. I am not out to point fingers or stir up trouble, I just want to find out exactly what is wrong with our pup so that we can give her the right treatment. Responsible breeders may also like to be aware that this problem could possibly be out there so that they can plan their breeding programmes wisely.

by DarkShepherd on 04 November 2006 - 22:11

A dog in the working kennel I use to work for was bred to an outside female about 2 years ago and out of their nine pups, one had epilepsy, even though the parents were clean and so were their pedigrees. The female was an american bred dog and the male at our kennel was imported from czech. Confirmation of epilepsy should not be based primarily off of a pedigree, even though it can help in most cases if a dog and it's parents have it (registration for breeding german shepherds in germany is not as easy as it is here with the AKC; over there, a dog must have a title in herding, schutzhund, and/or pass a 12 mile endurance run to be considered for breeding... so the chances of the dogs having epilepsy and being used for breeding are much slimmer over there than it is over here). Epilepsy has some base in genetics, but not completely. Just like with humans, puppies that are dropped can develop epilepsy, so that is also a possibility. The pup that had epilepsy that we had did not need it's pedigree examined to be diagnosed with it, so you may want to consider consulting another veterinarian for a second opinion. At first the meds she was on (i can't remember the name of them at the moment) only did so much for her, but with increased dosage as she got older it was more easily managed and from what i know of the dog is doing fine now and barely ever has episodes. I do not believe there is such thing as "GSD Epilepsy" although epilepsy seems to be common in the breed, but the same can be said for siberian huskies and yorkshire terriers. Breeders of top line dogs are normally responsible, why else would they have top line dogs? I am not too familiar with show line dogs because they are not of my interest, but i know with the working lines people do not mess around because they want the best dog possible. Also, have you ever thought that it may not be epilepsy? Some of the symptoms you mentioned, such as rage like aggression or handler indifference, sounds like it may be schizophrenia. It's rare, but it happens. I hope you figure out what is wrong with your girl and anything i have mentioned can help. I know you are worried, but i'm sure she's going to be alright.

by Blitzen on 04 November 2006 - 23:11

Hi Lily, Here in the US we have an organization called the Canine Health Foundation. One of their current projects is identifying the gene that causes epilepsy. They already know it is not genetic in all breeds although it does appear to be in others. There is an interesting web site that addresses the disease, symptoms, tests, treatments and so forth. www.canine-epilepsy.net They also have a link to the above mentioned Canine Health Foundation. So far they have around 20 DNA sample from GSDs, some with epilepsy, some from related dogs if I remember correctly. Good luck with your puppy. I often wonder how she's doing.


by DesertRangers on 05 November 2006 - 02:11

Myself with working lines have never seen a GSD have it. Have seen it with other breeds..

by Do right and fear no one on 05 November 2006 - 03:11

I am by no means an expert on German GSD's nor medical problems of dogs, however, common sense tells me that no matter where your pups parents are from, it is just bad luck. Not because the parents are from Germany. People everywhere get cancer. Dogs everywhere get epilepsy. I hope the best for your pup.


by DDR-DSH on 05 November 2006 - 08:11

Some of the "symptoms" you are describing are not indicative of epilepsy, in my opinion. I am not a veterinarian, but I know this breed. Fly-chasing, tail-chasing, spinning in the kennel, etc. are more in the order of neurotic behaviors which develop from frustration. The personality of this breed is frequently on the order of "obsessive-compulsive". A real high-drive GSD is very much attuned to activities around it (especially other animals, dogs, humans) and wants to interact with them, usually in a manner that is conducive to herding type behaviors. This results in fence-running and so forth, even wound-licking (granulomas that won't heal because they won't leave them alone) and so on. These dogs can be extremely difficult to keep, especially in a kennel environment. I have seen these very active dogs actually run a trench into the fence-line on a large yard, or run themselves so far down in condition that they become dangerously underweight(exertional myopathy). It is their nature to want to do SOMETHING, even if that something makes no sense or is destructive, and even to the exclusion of other normal behaviors such as eating! They have energy and inherent behaviors which compel them to exert themselves. That is, the "good ones" do! This is what makes them working dogs, and herding dogs (after the "continental or tending style" of herding), after all! Working dogs are not couch potatoes. And if you expect them to be a couch potato, it is you who are wrong. You must find something for this dog to do before the obsessive-compulsive neurotic behaviors become too much embedded and displace the development of other normal, natural behaviors. From time to time, you hear the working dog people make reference to "crazy" dogs. Yes, they seem crazy, but they are not. Some are high-drive working dogs and they must have something to do. There is a big market in medications to modify behaviors in human psychology, which is only a form of drug-assisted management, not psychology. It may benefit some patients, but I wonder.. And I wonder if this is what our dogs need. What I would expect from epilepsy, as symptoms: Stupor, drooling with glassy eyes (catatonic stare) or one pupil dilated differently than the other, also convulsions and recumbancy, followed by or accompanied by disorientation. You need to do some more research on this and get second and third opinions.. Remember that some vets don't know their ass from a hole in the ground and that most do not understand the very unique nature of this breed, behaviorally speaking.


by Superdog on 05 November 2006 - 14:11

Hi To you all I worked for a Vet and also run an informastion service for GSD Breed. Please do not think we are as a breed getting away with out having Epilepsy, we hold some 500 pedigrees with known lines that have produced this terrible problem. Of late we are also getting German Pedigree's and unfortunately some are very popular, we have 4 which are related to the same dog. Unfortuantely one can check a pedigree, and can produce a copy pedigree sent by the then present owner but one cannot put into print who the animal is until it is DEAD. As LilyDexter states it is better that when the breeder is informed they do the right thing withdraw the dog or bitch line from their breeding programme. Breeding we know is all a game of chance, it may look good on paper, but it may never turn out as we expect. Thus would it not be correct and more honest to take the animal from the programme and admit that the first was bad luck but not repeat the venture to possibly produce more of the same. Most animals find themselves in loving homes, and the heartbreak such a problem can cause is never worth the money made.? It was because of the bad problems we ones had here that a Vet called Phylis Croft started the Foundation. Superdog

by SGBH on 05 November 2006 - 15:11

I am in no way advocating breeding "problems" back into this breed, God knows we have enough of those as it is. My question to ponder is this. No only epilepsy, but with the other KNOWN problems as well(hip dysplasia, pancreas problems, the long coat gene, tail carriage of some dogs, ect.), how long would the GSD remain in existance if we started culling every problem that crops up out of the gene pool AND what NEW problems will pop up as we eradicate the "problems" of the present day GSD. Other than some futuristic science of removing the eggs at ovulation, and "cleaning" the "blueprint" in the eggs and "washing" the sperm for malformities and then uniting the sperm and egg and placing the perfect specimens back in the uterus horns, what is the "practical" solution? Stephen

by Blitzen on 05 November 2006 - 15:11

Hi Superdog, If you haven't already done so you may want to log on to www.canine-epilepsy.net and read about the resarch being done in conjunction with the Canine Health Foundation. You may even know some owners of dogs with epilepsy or dogs who have produced this disease who will want to submit DNA swabs to be included in the study. I'm not sure where you live, but here in the US this is certainly not a "new" disease in dogs and GSDs have had more than their share of seizuring dogs. I heard of GSDs having seizures as far back as the 70's, one of the first was a German import.Another big concerns to us laypersons should be that it is starting to show up in younger and younger dogs. At one time true epilepsy was never diagnosed until the dog was mature, usually 5 years old or older and by that time some had already produced progeny. It was almost unheard of to have a puppy diagnosed with epilepsy, now it is fairly common in many breeds. This would seem to indicate some environmental factor/factors or the overuse of dogs carrying the gene. To make it even more difficult, seizures are not always the result of epilepsy, so a sound disgnosis needs to be made. And all seizures are not full blown grand mals, some dogs have focal seizures where only a part of their body moves out of their control. I once owned a dog with focal seizures; she only tilted her head from side to side during an episode and never lost consciousness. I myself would not discount Lily's dog form having a form of this disease. Kennel dogs could have seizures that go unnoticed by the owners if they have a large population of dogs on site. If a dog seizures in its kennel, it will often set the adjacent dogs into a barking frenzy and that will travel throughout the rest of the dogs. However, some might attribute that to alert barking or something else. Also, if a seizuring dog has a kennel mate, a seizure could cause that mate to attack the seizuring dog. It is not a fun disease to manage. I think the current research going on here will lead to the identification of the gene responsible for the disease. The researchers have already identifed it in one breed. I'm sure the hope is that it will be found on the same choromosome of every dog.

by Blitzen on 05 November 2006 - 15:11

SGBH, many breeders of all breeds are asking the same questions as you. A shrinking gene pool has really limited the choices in most every purebred breed of dog. Many attribute it to the popular stud syndrome. We humans sure do know how to mess up a good thing. Anyway, you might be interested in logging on to www.canine-genetic.com There is a lot of good information there and quite a few very knowledgable people on their discussion board. We are all in the same boat so to speak, at a genetic bottleneck with our pedigrees.


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