Dachshund Breed Council Annual Health Report for 2016

health_report_2016The Breed Council’s Health Committee has published its 2016 Report.

Chairman, Roger Sainsubury’s summary:

During 2016 there were a number of interesting and exciting initiatives and a new IVDD project.

IVDD

This remains the most important issue for us, Dachshund back problems being far too common. Currently, there are a number of research projects looking at the genetic basis for this condition, new screening techniques and also lifestyle factors that may be involved in precipitating back conditions.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) are sequencing the complete genomes of a number of breeds in their Give a Dog a Genome project, and comparison of these with the Dachshund genome may provide leads in discovering the genetic basis of IVDD in the future.

Our IVDD Screening Project started in November and this involves taking X-rays of the spines of Dachshunds between two and four years old and scoring these for disc calcification. Information is also gathered on the dimensions of the dog, together with photos, and its lifestyle. The back scores and other data will be analysed and should eventually enable us to advise on reducing the risk to individual dogs and helping with breeding to improve the situation. This is, of course, a long-term project and the dogs in the study will be reviewed annually.

Analysis of the DachsLife 2015 data by the Royal Veterinary College has indicated that all the breeds, except the Wire Haired Dachshunds, have body length to height at withers ratios that are significantly higher than they should be – they are too long.  There is a known association between the length of the Dachshund’s back and IVDD so this analysis confirms the importance of breeding to try to reduce the length of Dachshunds’ backs.

Lafora Disease

A reasonable estimate indicates that around 20% of Miniature Wire Haired Dachshunds carry the Lafora mutation at present, so testing is still very important. So far, testing for the Lafora gene, which is not easy and is expensive, has been carried out using blood samples that are sent to Toronto Children’s Hospital in Canada. The AHT has been working on a new genetic test for this disease. This uses cheek swab samples which will make testing much easier to carry out, and this work is progressing well. The AHT are now at the validation stage and it is hoped that there are no hitches as this has proved to be a difficult mutation to deal with. Fingers crossed.

PRA

Cord 1 testing continues to show a reduction of the mutation in all three miniature breeds. It is important, though, that owners continue to test their Dachshunds as a proportion of all the miniature breeds still have the faulty gene. It is much lower in Mini Wires, though, but is still present.

Distichiasis

This is, in fact, the commonest hereditary eye problem in Dachshunds, especially Mini Longs, and a high proportion are affected. There is no DNA test but a clinical eye examination of dogs that are to be used for breeding will identify any with this condition and this should be carried out as well as doing the DNA testing for PRA.

Epilepsy

Mini Long Haired Dachshunds have a significantly higher incidence of epilepsy then the other breeds and an online reporting registry was set up this year to gather information. Half the small number of cases reported on this so far involved Mini Longs. More information is, however, needed before any useful analysis can be carried out. The form to report a case can be found on the Dachshund Health UK website.

Communication

Informing Dachshund owners and the public about health and welfare is an important part of the Sub-committee’s work and the Breed Council Dachshund Health UK website and Facebook are becoming more and more important in providing this information. Our Pet Advisors monitor Dachshund issues on the internet – blogs, groups advertising etc. – and they provide advice and help where they can.

Genetic diversity

A case in 2016 highlighted the problem of getting the right balance between introducing genes from one Dachshund gene pool to others to increase their genetic diversity and the risk of transferring genetic disease into these breeds.  This concerned recessive coat genes and Dachshunds puppies changing from one coat type to another, but also the risk of transferring genetic diseases like Lafora into the other Dachshund breeds.

This is an ongoing story and the details, together with much else, will be found in this Health and Welfare Sub-committee Report, which I hope you will find interesting and helpful.

Roger Sainsbury BVM&S, MRCVS

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