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by Marilyn on 22 September 2022 - 10:09

Here I am again, raising awareness that Idiopathic Epilepsy is still alive and kicking in our beloved breed.

Can I ask that if a mating produces a fitter, please notify the relevant breed body and stop using the dog or bitch to breed from. If your dog is a fitter, please do not even contemplate breeding from it.

Once a puppy has been diagnosed it is a very traumatic experience for the pup and the owners and can end in heartache. Far too many GSDs are not coming out of a Status Epilepticus event or being given sleep due to uncontrolled seizures. A majority of dogs are not easy to control by medication and are classed as refractory. If they can be controlled by medication your vet bill could run to thousands of pounds per year.

I know there are still some breeders out there who don’t appear to grasp the situation that they pass on to an unsuspecting buyer.

I naively believed that the planned matings were to improve the health and well being of our beloved breed but to do this we honestly need to know if there is any kind of health or temperament hiccup and the names of the dogs concerned.

For too long we have brushed this type of thing under the carpet but it really needs to be on the radar so that all breeders can be looked at as really caring for their lineage rather than some relying on people staying ‘stum’ about it.


by Rik on 25 September 2022 - 20:09

is there a genetic marker or test for epilepsy?

or is it just wait and see?

by GSCat on 25 September 2022 - 22:09

Just checked the Embark website. There are different forms listed under the brain-spinal cord list in their health conditions they check for.  I didn't enter a specific breed, so I got "everything"  No idea if they check "everything" for every breed, or only those conditions known to affect a specific breed, or maybe it depends on the test kit purchased.

by MajicForest on 27 September 2022 - 09:09

I personally do not use Embark, there is so much information that does not pertain to every breed, they lead the unsuspecting astray. My personal opinion.
with a quick google search, epilepsy marker have not been confirmed for canines. They know the area but have not been able to get much further and sad to say it is in all breeds, purebred and mixes. The cause is unknown, hence the term Idiopathic 'of unknown origin' https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7491283/ https://www.akcchf.org/research/research-portfolio/2257.html
the risk to the german shepherd breed seems to be fairly low
We had a dog that was abused by her owner, she had IE episodes and the vet figured it was human caused.
I had a female, high stress after whelping her first litter, se had a mild seizure, my vet called it an IE and said keep an eye one her and let me know if it repeats, it never did.


by Sunsilver on 27 September 2022 - 10:09

There are many different types of epilepsy, but the type that is definitely inherited (genetic) in GSDs can be traced back in the U.K. to just one dog:


Unfortunately, he was widely bred to, and continued line breeding on him and his descendants created a very bad problem with epilepsy in the U.K. 

I will never forget the thread posted by the owners of one of these dogs. The amount of inbreeding in this poor dog's pedigree was horrendous, and most of the lines led back to known fitters: https://www.pedigreedatabase.com/german_shepherd_dog/community.read?post=674162-benvillarosa-all-that-jazz--pts-after-horrific-seizures&p=2

The kennel club in the U.K. has taken steps in recent years to reduce the number of epileptic dogs by breeding away from these lines. This is the easiest type of epilepsy to remedy. Non-genetic epilepsy caused by tumors, brain injury, chemical imbalances, etc. is much more difficult to find a solution for.

by JackelnHide on 28 September 2022 - 23:09

Is there anyone interested in contributing to an epilepsy database? Similar to that of what we have in border collies?

by Marilyn on 07 October 2022 - 11:10

I certainly would be.

by Mackenzie on 16 October 2022 - 15:10

Sunsilver says that in the UK Avon Prince of Alumvale was the first dog identified as being responsible for epilepsy. However, it goes back further to Ingosohn of Errol. Ingosohn sired the sire to Avon Prince who was Arno of Saba.

It is true that Avon Prince was widely used in his day and produced epliepsy. However, if you follow lines from Ingosohn then you can identify many dogs who were carriers right up to the 1970,s including two best in show winners at Crufts. From these lines epilepsy carried forward for more that 20 years. Many of these carriers appear way back in the bloodlines of two German Siegers.



by Sunsilver on 17 October 2022 - 10:10

Oh, have no doubt it goes back a LOT further that Avon Prince! That was just the first dog identified in the U.K.!  In recent years,the breeders in the U.K. have been working hard to trace it and eliminate it, mainly by bringing in studs from other countries (from what I've seen, anyway.)

I just still SMH at the lack of knowledge/foresight which produced dogs like All That Jazz, with such a massive amount of inbreeding on affected dogs. And the poor, poor owners having to pay the price for their ignorance and greed!

by Mackenzie on 17 October 2022 - 19:10

In the time of Ingosohn of Errol who was born in Germany it was uncommon for anyone to admit to breeding dogs with epilepsy. Also, at that time epilepsy was not understood or the ramifications of the disease when bred on. I have often wondered whether Ingosohn was found to be a carrier of the disease when he was in Germany and then passed to the UK with a wall of silence to an unsuspecting breeder. We will never know.

As a matter of interest Arno of Saba was born in 1945 and was widely used. My assumption is that there were other carriers before Arno who were sired by Ingosohn.

Epilepsy is a very dangerous disease to our breed and should not be treated lightly. With the experience of the UK in mind I also believe that the disease must have bred on in Germany too up to the present day.



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