How to get your dog tested
What Tests are Available?
Unfortunately, Lafora testing is not currently offered through the most well known animal testing facilities, such as the UK’s Animal Health Trust. Testing is complex, time-consuming and uncommercially viable. Dr. Berge Minassian of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children is the world’s leading authority on Human Lafora. His team developed the first Canine Lafora tests in 2005/6 as part of their Human Lafora research programme and, after extensive clinical trials, can now offer a reliable blood Full Spectrum blood test that can differentiate between “Clear”, “Carrier” and ‘Affected’ dogs.
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 has a proven record of reliable, certified testing on 5-10mls blood from each animal, placed in an EDTA tube and the Canadian test is recognised by the UK Kennel Club as their ‘approved’ Lafora test for mini wirehair dachhsunds. The test takes up to 4 months to process, analyse and provide results. Their canine testing starts from $350 dollars per test and the revenue generated is used to subsidise their invaluable work on finding a treatment for Human Lafora.
n.b.A ‘not affected’ dog is NOT the same as a CLEAR dog. In the early days of testing the only test that was available was a simple ‘Affected/Not affected’ test A ‘Not Affected’ status dog will not develop the condition but may be a ‘carrier’ which means if it is mated to another carrier or affected dog, it will produce affected puppies. This is an extremely important distinction when it comes to mating decisions and advising puppy buyers about the status of their dog.
Subsidised Lafora Testing for UK Mini Wire Dachshunds
The Wirehaired Dachshund Club co-ordinates a DNA screening programme for Lafora Disease in Miniature Wire-haired Dachshunds in the UK. More than 500 dogs have now been tested and it is also possible to deduce the status of some untested dogs from those results. Throughout the testing, results have remained consistent: 9-10% dogs affected, approximately 35- 40% carriers. You can see the results of all dogs tested through the WHDC scheme on the public database at WHDC Test Results or via the excellent Kennel Club online services, such as Mate Select. It is also possible to deduce the status of some untested dogs based on these results, for example if a dog is tested affected, then by deduction, both parents must carry at least one Lafora gene and are therefore at least Carriers.
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.
How does the WHDC Screening Programme work?
The Wirehaired Dachshund Club’s screening programme now uses the tests developed by Dr. Berge Minassian in Canada (see above). The tests are currently heavily subsidized by the Wirehaired Dachshund Club, with support from other Breed Clubs and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. In order to keep costs down, the majority of testing is done in bulk at intervals throughout the year and then samples are shipped out to Canada for blind testing. The testing facility is located within a busy teaching hospital and it can take up to four months for results to come back, so we ask that all owners taking part in the scheme are patient and DO NOT contact Dr Minassian direct. Dr Minassian deals direct via the WHDC and no longer offers private testing to UK owners of Mini Wire Dachshunds.
All test results are published on the Wirehair Dachshund Club’s website at WHDC Lafora database as soon as they are available and certificates are provided. It is a requirement of the subsidised testing scheme that any dogs identified as AFFECTED will be taken out of the breeding programme. (Why ‘no breeding from affected’ restriction?) It is anticipated that the test will, in due course, be recognized by the Kennel Club and recorded in their online Mate Select and MyKC services. 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 and show certificates if tested.
When should I get my dog tested?
- 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
How much does it cost?
There are still limited funds available to continue subsidised testing for a short while longer. For all NEW animals tested, the subsidised cost is £150. This price includes significant veterinary, shipping and administrative costs. The true cost of the test without the subsidy is closer to £250. Whilst the subsidy lasts, those owners who have already paid £80 for earlier testing via Centogene, whether they have received an Affected/Unaffected result or are still waiting for results can pay only £70 if they require a full test on the actual dog already tested by Centogene (i.e. no substitute dogs will be allowed).
You can find out about the next bulk testing session at http://www.whdc.co.uk/latest-laforas-news.php or http://laforadogs.org/news, the Dachshund Breed Council Health and Welfare Pages. Sign up for the DBC newsletter here, the laforadogs mailing list by emailing email@example.com or look out on social media for further news.
Next Testing Opportunity:
26th January 2014 Fitzpatrick Referrals, Godalming, Surrey. To request your test, or to attend the seminar on the same day, go to Fitzpatrick Lafora and IVDD Seminar.
Lafora Testing for other Breeds or Non UK Based Miniature Wirehair Dachshunds
If your dog is showing symptoms that might be Lafora but it is not a UK-based miniature wirehair dachshund, we strongly recommend that you use Dr Minassian’s tests as the lab has the only Lafora DNA testing in the world that have been so extensively used.*
Shipping to Canada : As mentioned above, the WHDC send the UK samples to Dr Minassian’s lab. All bloods are sent via Fedex , who provide excellent instructions about sending blood or animal samples abroad. You need 6 copies of the shipping invoice and additional copies of the waybills – explained on the Fedex site.
To request testing, contact:
Dr Berge Minassian,
Room 6536B, The Hospital for Sick Children,
555 University Avenue,
Click Lafora FAQs July 2011 for a copy of the Dachshund Breed Council’s informative leaflet.
*If you live outside the UK and your Lafora-diagnosed dog is a dachshund, please do let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org