Dachshund Breed Council Health Report for 2013

DBC_Health_Report_2013The Breed Council’s Annual Health Report for 2013 is available online here (1MB pdf).

Roger Sainsbury BVM&S MRCVS, Chairman of the Breed Council’s Health Sub-committee writes:

2013 was another busy and successful year for the UK Dachshund Breed Council Health and Welfare Sub-Committee.

In November the Karlton Index and Kennel Club Breed Health Awards were presented at Discover Dogs. The Dachshund Breed Council took the award for top breed in 2013 and also received the award for Leadership in breed health. The award for individual achievement went to Ian Seath, Chairman of the DBC. There were 4 nominees for this award, including Gill Key, one of our Pet Advisors, for her campaign to raise awareness of Lafora disease. The work of the DBC is a team effort, but it’s Ian’s energy and stamina and innovation that helps us make a difference for Dachshunds.

Helga Klausgraber joined the sub-committee in the summer as one of our Pet Advisors, bringing the number up to three.

Toronto Children’s Hospital have now developed a successful DNA test for Lafora disease that can differentiate between affected, carrier and clear dogs. The nature of the Lafora mutation caused the difficulties experienced last year and the test is now carried out on blood samples using the Southern blot test rather than a PCR based technique. Current results show that the Lafora mutation seems quite widespread in the Miniature Wire population, although this might change as more results become available. If the proportion of dogs with the mutation stays at the current level the Animal Health Trust would advocate that breeders should continue to use carriers in their breeding programmes for the time being to avoid restricting the breed’s gene pool.

Gill Key, one of our Pet Advisors, is working on the Lafora Progression Survey with veterinary surgeon Clare Rusbridge. Any dog whose test gives an affected result for Lafora disease is followed up at regular intervals. This will give us a more complete picture of the progression of this disease.

Steady progress is being made in reducing the number of Miniature Dachshunds with the cord1 PRA mutation. Miniature Longs show the greatest reduction, probably because testing of this breed has been carried out for longer than in Miniature Smooths and Miniature Wires breeds. Preliminary screening has been started in Miniature Longs in order to investigate the prevalence and severity of distichiasis.

Samples are still being collected for the IVDD research project to develop a genetic test for this condition. This work is especially important as the Scandinavian approach, using X-rays to identify disc calcifications, is making slow progress.

A research paper from the RVC on back disease this year showed that the longer a dachshund’s back length the higher the risk of disc disease. This work supports the change to the breed standard to reduce the back length, and this should therefore help to reduce the number of dogs with this serious problem.  It must not be forgotten that there is an increased risk of back problems with increasing levels of obesity – so veterinary advice is for us all to keep our dachshunds slim (but not thin)!

Osteogenesis imperfecta, is a genetic condition of Wire Haired Dachshunds that prevents normal bone growth and causes death in the first few weeks of life. It came to our attention this year with a paper in the Veterinary Record which discussed the disease and its frequency on the Continent, especially Germany. Shortly after this, a French DNA laboratory offered a diagnostic test for it to us. No cases have yet been reported in the UK but we will be setting up a research screening exercise to see if the mutation is present here.

In the autumn a communication was received from the Royal Veterinary College about a dachshund that they had seen with a liver shunt. Although this is an uncommon condition, occasional unrelated cases are seen. It is thought that this abnormality may have a number of probable causes. In Dachshunds at the present time it would seem that the incidence of liver shunt is probably due to sporadic developmental defects rather than inherited traits.

I hope you find this year’s Health Report interesting and useful.

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