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Lines with Seizures

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Hi

I have wonderful bc but he has been struggling with epilepsy.I am thinking of getting another border collie but I would like to avoid lines that have had known problems with epilepsy. I know it is always a risk with the breed but I am tring to avoid a second case of heart break.

 

B.

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There is research being done to try and determine if a specific gene or genes are responsible for epilepsy and hopefully to develop a genetic test. I produced two pups with epilepsy (same litter) out of dogs who had never produced epileptic pups before and out of lines that seemed to be free of epilepsy. There are some folks who keep track of dogs with epilepsy and have tried to draw correlations to pedigrees and the potential to produce epilepsy, but I don't think anyone can really say X line *definitely* produces epilepsy, especially since reputable breeders shouldn't be continuing lines (crosses) that have produced epileptic pups (in the case of my dogs, I was told that a particular male seemed to produce epileptic pups when doubled up in a pedigree, but this dog was back several generations; that is, not close up in these bloodlines). Someone may dispute that, but in reality all anyone can tell you is what crosses have produced epileptic pups. That doesn't mean that if the sire or dam were bred to a different female or male that any epileptic pups would result. I hope I'm making sense.

 

J.

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I've know a few dogs who produced epilepsy in their pups and grandpups fairly consistently, but for the most part I think any line has the potential to produce it. I have traced a number of pedigrees and have yet to find one that doesn't have at least a distant link to the disease. As a breed, Border Collies have a fairly high incidence (when compared to other purebreds). I think they may even be number 1 depending on which list you consult.

 

Unfortunately, some breeders are in major denial and claim it's not in their lines despite clear evidence to the contrary. They have an excuse for the epileptic dogs they have produced, trying to pass the blame onto the puppy buyers.

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Unfortunately, some breeders are in major denial and claim it's not in their lines despite clear evidence to the contrary. They have an excuse for the epileptic dogs they have produced, trying to pass the blame onto the puppy buyers.

 

Boy does that sound familiar. I think the denial and excuses--for a myriad of genetic problems--happens more often than not.

 

EDIT: Sorry that was really cynical. There are some breeders who care, and I don't want to be unfair to them.

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...and to be fair, the Canine Health Foundation (I know, I know, AKC) has a couple of sponsored research grants to discover marker(s) for Idiopathic Epilepsy, one of which is specific for Australian Shepherds.

 

http://www.akcchf.org/research/funded-research/1615.html

 

 

http://www.akcchf.org/research/funded-research/1425.html

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Your best option is to ask the breeder directly. How they respond to the question can often be more telling than the answer they give.

 

The ABCA has been supporting research in our breed by facilitating sample collection, the researcher has not asked for funding.

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My mix, Maverick, has had seizures, however, we believe his seizures were the result of red #40 in his diet. Once we eliminated that, the seizures stopped. I can actually time it now if I wanted to. If Mav has anything with red 40 in it, he will seize in 30 minutes to an hour after ingesting the food.

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I had one puppy in a litter that has had seizures; nothing at all from either sire or dam, nor from dogs in the pediree or related; Ask breeders what has happened in the lines and I would think in general they will tell you.

 

Cynthia

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I am curious. How common is this in the breed? In your opinion would you say that a majority of BC have seizures? Is this a treatable thing? I am assuming that they could die during any of these seizures. If anyone doesnt mind please kinda explain to me what the dog does during a seizure. Is it like a person having one?

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Dear Doggers,

How common? There aren't any statistics and the anecdotal evidence probably depends on whether or not you've been affected. Those who've had the disease will share with others in the same boat - those who'venever had it - like me - will claim it's rare.

 

With that caveat, I do think it's rare. In a quarter century I know of and have heard of 20 cases or so of the thousands of dogs I've seen run. I know some individual dogs that have thrown more than one affected pup but these were breeders I would have trusted myself. I don't know of any affected "lines".

 

But the disease is catastrophic - a heartbreaker. If you'd like to minimize your chances of getting it, buy from a well known trialer - their pups will be known in the community. If you want to be more certain buy a pup from a sire/dam combination that has produced litters before.

 

I intend to breed my Luke and Fly her next heat. There's no epilepsy in his background and he threw no affected pups in his last litter and she has three litters on the ground with no reported problems. That said, I'd be a fool to guarantee there was NO CHANCE a pup will be epileptic.

 

Donald McCaig

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I have a male that threw one pup (out of 3 litters) and I wasn't planning on breeding him again. But then that makes me think ... should his sire (who has a LOT of pups/grandpups around) ... his brothers/sisters/sons/daughters, etc. never be bred? If we did that it would eliminate a LOT of working dogs.

 

How DO you make a responsible decision on these issues???

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Well I bred two with no evidence of epilepsy in the lines and had 25% affected pups. The sire has been bred on several occasions with no epileptic pups. The dam's lines have no known epilepsy and there are a lot of dogs out there from her lines. So I think it was an unlucky genetic combination between my bitch and that stud. I think all you can do is research and breed carefully. If there's any chance their could be epilepsy (a near relative has it), then I think the responsible thing to do is disclose that to potential puppy buyers, just like people do with early onset deafness. JMO.

 

J.

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I had a dog with epilepsy. On one side of the pedigree I wasn't able to find any affected dogs. On the other side I was able to find dozens of relatives, mostly linked via his grandmother (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc). Knowing the lines reduces but does not eliminate your chances of buying a pup that turns out to be affected. Unfortunately, my dog was one of the first from those lines to have a seizure, so I didn't have that information beforehand.

 

The neurology texts list the affected rate in Border Collies at about 3% to 4%.

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I had a dog with epilepsy. On one side of the pedigree I wasn't able to find any affected dogs. On the other side I was able to find dozens of relatives, mostly linked via his grandmother (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc). Knowing the lines reduces but does not eliminate your chances of buying a pup that turns out to be affected. Unfortunately, my dog was one of the first from those lines to have a seizure, so I didn't have that information beforehand.

 

The neurology texts list the affected rate in Border Collies at about 3% to 4%.

 

That's where my "confusion" comes. Let's say that you had a dog that won the International and there are a LOT of pups out of him. So you have a son/grandson that has one pup with an issue (anything not just seizures) ... do you not ever breed him again. Just try and breed to a "line" that there are no known "relatives" (and how far back do you go?). Do you see where I'm going ... if everyone stopped breeding dogs that have thrown "something" ... we wouldn't have anything to breed to???

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That's where my "confusion" comes. Let's say that you had a dog that won the International and there are a LOT of pups out of him. So you have a son/grandson that has one pup with an issue (anything not just seizures) ... do you not ever breed him again. Just try and breed to a "line" that there are no known "relatives" (and how far back do you go?). Do you see where I'm going ... if everyone stopped breeding dogs that have thrown "something" ... we wouldn't have anything to breed to???

 

It depends on whether the condition is serious or life threatening as well as the testing available. It's true that you don't want to throw away entire bloodlines. Sometimes it does mean neutering your own dog and instead bringing in a relative from a "safer" cross to keep the genetics going.

 

For example, I would happily breed a CEA carrier because we have a test and can avoid producing affected pups.

 

Let's say, instead, that you have a sire who has been bred to 5 bitches and has produced hip dysplasia. The affected rates are as follows...

 

Roy x Fly = 0% affected

Roy x Meg = 10% affected

Roy x Fern = 75% affected

Roy x Bet = 25% affected

Roy x Jill = 15% affected

 

I would not breed any of the pups from the Roy x Fern litter, even the one that scores an Excellent. The littermates have demonstrated a high genetic risk for producing HD. I would choose a replacement from any of the other litters based on which litter produced the highest percentage of useful working dogs.

 

But let's say that someone got a pup from the Roy x Fern cross (call him Ben) and wanted to breed him because he was such a good working dog. Here are the results...

 

Ben x Gin = 50% affected

Ben x Lil = 75% affected

 

Ben's owner realizes something is very wrong after just 2 litters. He is producing an unusually high rate of HD. However, Ben's owner loves him as a working dog and wants those genetics in their kennel. That person's best bet is to go back and breed to Roy or to Ben's half brother from one of the crosses that produced a lower rate of HD (ex: use a male from the Roy x Meg litter because those pups work similarly to the Roy x Fern pups but have a lower genetic risk of HD).

 

But what about epilepsy, a life threatening and heartbreaking condition? You have to be even more careful and conservative because of the nature of the disease.

 

Billy is an International Champ and has sired 100 litters. He did not produce epilepsy in any of them. You own Bert, a son of Billy, who is showing great talent. Your good friend owns a littermate brother, Buddy.

 

Bert x Sadie = 0%

Bert x Lil = 25% affected (2 pups)

Bert x Hope = 0%

 

Buddy x Faye = 15% affected (1 pup)

Buddy x Sally = 0%

 

Now you have 2 littermates producing affected pups. I would say your best bet is to end that branch of the family tree (neuter pups from all 5 litters). Go back and use one of their half siblings for breeding instead of Bert or Buddy.

 

I gave some pretty clear cut examples, but what I was trying to do was demonstrate how important horizontal pedigree data is for making breeding decisions. In other words, knowing the rate of affected pups in your dog's litter as well as in the litters of half sibs, cousins, etc is far more important than knowing the health status of the parents. It is also important to consider using "safer" relatives who have the good genes you want but have a lower risk of also carrying the diseases you need to avoid.

 

Of course, in real life you are trying to weight the risks of multiple diseases at once while producing the best working dogs possible. In that case, you have to choose your battles and decide to avoid the high risk disease (epilepsy) and take a bigger chance with the lesser of two evils (HD). There are no clear cut, black and white answers.

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Bert x Sadie = 0%

Bert x Lil = 25% affected (2 pups)

Bert x Hope = 0%

 

Buddy x Faye = 15% affected (1 pup)

Buddy x Sally = 0%

 

Now you have 2 littermates producing affected pups. I would say your best bet is to end that branch of the family tree (neuter pups from all 5 litters). Go back and use one of their half siblings for breeding instead of Bert or Buddy.

 

I gave some pretty clear cut examples, but what I was trying to do was demonstrate how important horizontal pedigree data is for making breeding decisions. In other words, knowing the rate of affected pups in your dog's litter as well as in the litters of half sibs, cousins, etc is far more important than knowing the health status of the parents. It is also important to consider using "safer" relatives who have the good genes you want but have a lower risk of also carrying the diseases you need to avoid.

 

Of course, in real life you are trying to weight the risks of multiple diseases at once while producing the best working dogs possible. In that case, you have to choose your battles and decide to avoid the high risk disease (epilepsy) and take a bigger chance with the lesser of two evils (HD). There are no clear cut, black and white answers.

 

Oh no math! :@)

 

I think I understand what you are saying ...

 

I've researched background pedigrees of the sire and dam (trying to see if there was a "common denominator"). I also tried to compare the pedigrees of the other breedings ... trying to see where the problem came from. All I did was come up more confused than when I started.

 

Thanks for the input.

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I've researched background pedigrees of the sire and dam (trying to see if there was a "common denominator"). I also tried to compare the pedigrees of the other breedings ... trying to see where the problem came from. All I did was come up more confused than when I started.

 

That would work for a simple (single locus) gene like adult onset hearing loss, but epilepsy (to the best of our knowledge) is a complex trait controlled by multiple genes. You have to look at entire family groups and try to decide their relative risk level. Even then, you still have the potential to produce affected dogs from lines considered low risk.

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Liz's hypothetical HD example may be good for explaining her decision process for breeding choices but it does not reflect the state of knowledge on the genetics of HD. This should be stated clearly so that someone doesn't read her example and take it for fact.

 

From my conversations with Dr Neff about his hypothesis on the genetics of epilepsy, he believes the mutation(s) occurred very early on in the domestication of dogs and/or the developments of breeds such that the mutation(s) are likely present in many lines and breeds. Since science has been unable to find the genetic markers for this disease it is highly like to be polygenic (unlike CEA) and likely has an environmental component (i.e. a trigger).

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Mark, I was basing my examples for HD on a polygenic inheritance pattern assuming that virtually all dogs will have some risk (carry at least one of the contributing alleles). My example tried to show using horizontal pedigree data to get an idea of the relative genetic risk of each dog (does the dog carry an average number or more than average?). Since we don't have the genes identified and our phenotype screening process is far from perfect, it is the best method that I have learned to date for trying to make breeding decisions.

 

This is a method that was discussed at the most recent conference for genetics and the health of pure bred cats and dogs that drew experts from around the world. I am here to learn. If you can see flaws in that theory or know of better ways to make breeding decisions I would genuinely like to know about them.

 

From my conversations with Dr Neff about his hypothesis on the genetics of epilepsy, he believes the mutation(s) occurred very early on in the domestication of dogs and/or the developments of breeds such that the mutation(s) are likely present in many lines and breeds. Since science has been unable to find the genetic markers for this disease it is highly like to be polygenic (unlike CEA) and likely has an environmental component (i.e. a trigger).

 

Nothing different than what I said, just explained more clearly. Except that I would go farther and ask if people understand the key difference between a trigger and a cause.

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As the owner of an epileptic dog, yes, I do know the difference between a trigger and a cause, but you're right that many people may not.

 

J.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Mark wrote:

 

"From my conversations with Dr Neff about his hypothesis on the genetics of epilepsy, he believes the mutation(s) occurred very early on in the domestication of dogs and/or the developments of breeds such that the mutation(s) are likely present in many lines and breeds."

 

Unless it turns out that the epilepsy mutation(s) have some positive survival value (or unless onset was - at one time - late) its hard to believe humans allowed epileptic dogs to live and breed during the domestication period(s).

 

It's much easier to understand how, much later when breeds were being differentiated that human's ignored epilepsy for superior show ring success/birdiness/sheepdog outruns/etc.

 

Donald McCaig

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Donald,

 

There is a difference between carrying the mutated gene(s) that are responsible for a genetic disease and being affected with the genetic disease.

The mutation(s) typically occur in the gene pool long before the disease is seen in individual dogs.

 

Mark

 

 

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Liz,

 

I would not breed any of the pups from the Roy x Fern litter, even the one that scores an Excellent. The littermates have demonstrated a high genetic risk for producing HD.

 

What is the likelihood that an "excellent" hipped dog would produce HD relative to another "excellent" hipped dog based upon the hip status of pups produced by littermates?

 

Do you have published sources which I can read?

 

Mark

 

Nevermind, I've reviewed the updated OFA website (updated since I was there last) which states what you have posted. Clearly I need to do more reading on the inheritance of complex genetics.

 

http://www.offa.org/pdf/hovanart.pdf

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A teammate of mine, who happens to be a vet, has a border collie that has had 2 seizures since xmas. She researched his lines, spoke with the breeder in depth and as far as they could tell there were no epileptic dogs in the gene pool. The teammate researched it so strongly because epilepsy is common in the foxhound I believe which she also has. She really did not want another epileptic dog but she got one.

 

I really think that many of these genetic faults can happen because breeding is a crapshoot. When science has not been able to find the gene(s) that cause the fault then you are basically taking a chance. Sire A to Dam A has no major faults does not mean that those same dogs being bred to another will be so lucky.

 

Every breed has its faults. Some more severe than others. All you can do is research and hope for the best.

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The teammate researched it so strongly because epilepsy is common in the foxhound I believe which she also has. She really did not want another epileptic dog but she got one.

 

Perhaps there is an environmental component?

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