How to get your dog tested
FULL LAFORA TESTING AVAILABLE IN UK
The Wirehaired Dachshund Club and the Dachshund Breed Council launched a full DNA screening programme for Lafora Disease in Miniature Wire-haired Dachshunds in Summer 2011. By February 2012, Nearly 200 dogs had been submitted for testing , but the proportion is still quite low in comparison to the total population. In April 2013, we finally got the news we have been waiting for – a 100% effective full spectrum test that will identify whether dogs are affected, carriers or clear.
When should I get my dog tested:
- If you are in the UK and have mini wire dachshunds,it is important for the future health of the variety that the status of any dog used for breeding is known.
- If your dog is showing symptoms of lafora (what is canine lafora?)
- If your dog’s parents or siblings are showing symptoms
- If your dog’s parents are recorded as ‘affected’ or ‘carrier’ on www.whdc.co.uk lafora database
All UK based owners of MWHDs wishing to find out more should read the latest Lafora Sub Committee news release in the first instance, and monitor the sites for further news. You can find this on our site at http://laforadogs.org/news, on the WHDC website above, on the Dachshund Breed Council Health and Welfare Pages , or sign up for their newsletter, ask to go on the laforadogs mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or look out on social media for further news.
If you would like to register for the next batch of testing, contact Nora Price:
E-mail email@example.com, tel: 01543 276797.
How does it work?
The tests are heavily subsidized by the Wirehaired Dachshund Club, with support from other Breed Clubs and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The first batch of 40 test results was made available in late September 2011 and results are published on the Wirehair Dachshund Club’s website at WHDC Lafora database as soon as we have them. It is anticipated that the test will, in due course, be recognized by the Kennel Club and recorded in their online Mate Select service. In time, this test will be as well known as Cord1 testing and that prospective puppy owners will expect breeders to know the status of their dogs. You can read more about the background to the current testing programme here.
Why is this so important?
Lafora Disease is an inherited, late onset, progressive myoclonic epilepsy. The condition typically only becomes apparent after normal breeding age and progresses slowly over many years, can cause fitting, jerking, blindness and eventual dementia and is extremely distressing both for the dog and the owner. There is no cure and management of the condition can be difficult. (see What is Canine Lafora? and Lafora Management pages for more information). It is believed that up to 10% of UK Miniature Wire-haired Dachshunds may be affected. By extension, this may mean that 45% of MWD are carriers, i.e. show no signs of the disease themselves but could pass the disease on to puppies if unwittingly bred to another carrier or affected dog.
Should I get my dog tested?
The short answer is: yes. Even if you have never seen any sign of Lafora in your dogs, if you intend to breed, it is imperative that both dogs are tested first, and indeed the Kennel Club now recommends this. As awareness grows of this condition, more and more pet owners will want to buy only puppies that have been Lafora tested.
The WHDC is keen to hear from all pet owners who are willing to have their dogs tested, whether the dogs are young or old, speyed, castrated, healthy or unwell, in order to ensure that the the programme covers as many dogs as possible. Although the vast majority of breeders are responsible and caring, a minority inevitably deny that there is a problem, and refuse to have dogs tested. The only way therefore that lafora can be eliminated or confirmed and tackled in these cases is through pet owners submitting their dogs for testing.
Can I be confident in the results?
Yes. The first Canine Lafora tests were developed by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children in 2005/6 as part of their Human Lafora research programme. Two tests were originally developed: one that could identify affected/non affected dogs, and another, more complex test which could also differentiate between “Clear” and “Carrier” dogs.
Until very recently, only the former was available from the Toronto team, as they had ‘mothballed’ the clear/carrier blood test and advised the WHDC that it would cost at least £24k to reinstate it, and, as a research facility, they could not offer certification of the results. In January 2012, they announced not only had they reinstated the clear/carrier blood test, but were investigating a carrier/clear saliva test, but would need a pool of dogs of known/inferred status to test whether the results were reliable. The saliva test would not only be cheaper and simpler, but would be less invasive for the dogs. . They also confirmed that they would be able to provide certification.
Knowing whether a dog is lafora affected, carrier or clear is vital for making responsible breeding decisions, so it is vital that this is made available as soon as possible. Certificated Carrier/Clear testing is now available on a subsidised basis for UK mini wires in the very near future – please see latest update on our News page.
All results will be published on the WHDC website and shared with interested veterinary geneticists and will be carefully monitored to ensure accuracy and validity.
LAFORA TESTING OF NON UK BASED DOGS AND OTHER BREEDS.
There are several commercial laboratories around the world who offer human Lafora testing who may consider testing a dog for Lafora, but the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children originally developed the canine Lafora affected/unaffected test are the only lab that regularly also tests dogs. Their affected/unaffected canine tests cost $350 dollars and the revenue generated is used to subsidise their invaluable work on finding a treatment for Human Lafora. The test can either be from a blood sample or from a simple swab sample taken from the inside of the cheek - the swab is taken either at home at by a vet (kits can be purchased in advance). Before sending swab, contact:
Dr Berge Minassian,
Room 6536B, The Hospital for Sick Children,
555 University Avenue,
The Lab has now confirmed that it can offer full spectrum Canine Lafora tests which identify whether dogs are affected/carrier or clear. They require between 5 -10 ml of Blood for the test.
Click Lafora FAQs July 2011 for a copy of the Dachshund Breed Council’s informative leaflet.