Why ‘no breeding from tested Affected’ ?
Any owner who has dogs tested via the WHDC Lafora Screening Programme signs an agreement that they will NOT breed from any dog that is tested affected. Why was it felt necessary to put this restriction in place:
- Unlike other undesirable genetic conditions like Cord1 PRA and distichiasis, this condition has the potential to turn a pet and its owner’s life completely upside down. Current research suggests that ALL affected dogs will go on to show symptoms, with an average age of onset of around 7 years 1 month. Having a dog on expensive anti-epilepsy medications (which do not always work with Lafora anyway, and can have huge side effects) can be financially crippling unless the owner is lucky enough to have taken out the right Insurance policy.
- If the affected dog happens to be a popular stud, then the chances are that people will still clamour to use him again and again, rather than a less well known clear or carrier dog. That means he will have an effect on the number of carrier dogs (at least) still in the population that is out of all proportion …. and that takes us back to the responsibility that ALL breeders share to not add to the risk of more affected dogs being born.
- We do not, as yet, know the impact on the welfare of an Affected bitch being bred from – given that it is a neurological condition, will the stress speed up the onset of the condition? There is some evidence emerging that Lafora affected dogs tend to be more nervous/highly strung than unaffected dogs. Is it acceptable to continue that temperament characteristic, simply because they are good physical specimen in the show ring? There are already some judges prepared to mark down dogs that exhibit such undesirable traits based on the Breed Standards requirement that the VISIBLE health and welfare of each dog should be part of their decision making. If show winning is so important, maybe in the future this will be an incentive not to breed from affected lines.
- Although no litters born from matings between affected dogs to untested, known carrier or unaffected dogs were registered by the Kennel Club in 2013, there may well be other, unregistered puppies from such pairings. We are aware that at least one Affected bitch has been exported to Poland to be bred from, introducing the condition there. Another known affected dog has been sold (via PreLoved)as a pet without advising the new owner of the dog’s status. With that sort of unethical behaviour, we simply had to take a strong stance.
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