Posts Tagged ‘golden retriever health’

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Now for some good news on the golden retriever health front.

We soon may be able to screen for sensory ataxic neuropathy in golden retrievers.  This disorder is not terribly common in golden retrievers, but affected dogs have severe deficits in motor coordination and sensory perception. A dog with this disorder is not going to be able to run and play, and it certainly will be of no use as a working dog or dog sport competitor. (I think this disorder is limited to European strain goldens, but I could be wrong.)

The disorder was traced to a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA. It turns out that all dogs that have this disorder trace their lineage to a single female dog that lived in the 1970’s. Because it appeared to be maternally inherited, the researchers examined the mtDNA sequences of these dogs. It turns out that affected dogs have had one base pair deletion in the mitochondrial tRNA-Tyr gene. This mutation causes the mitochondria (the engine of the cells) to malfunction, and the dogs start losing neurons as they mature.

Because the gene has been identified, it will soon be possible to screen dogs for that mutation. Then breeders can select breeding stock that are free of that mutation, thereby producing dogs that no longer have sensory ataxic neuropathy.

This is good news for golden retriever health and for dog health in general. The more precise screenings we have for the genes that cause these inherited disorders the better.  If only all of these inherited diseases were caused by easily identifiable genes, then we would be able to really breed healthy animals without much worry. However, life is not that simple.

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Golden retriever and flat-coated retriever health surveys from the Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom) and the British Small Animal Veterinary Medical Association can now be accessed online.


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