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Advice on Beardie Health - Auto-Immune Disease

The JBLC recognise members concerns regarding the incidence of auto-immune disease in Beardies and the apparent rise in reported cases in our recent health study.

Auto-immune diseases are complex polygenic diseases i.e. many genes are required to make a dog susceptible, and there is undoubtedly environmental factors that trigger them. This makes it very difficult to predict which dogs will be affected or to produce breeding strategies to avoid them.

The current best advice is not to breed from any dog that has been affected with auto-immune disease at any stage of its life. Any semen stored from dogs that have gone on to develop auto-immune disease should be destroyed.

Matings that have produced offspring with auto-immune disease should not be repeated.

If an individual dog has produced multiple cases of auto-immune disease, especially in different and relatively unrelated mates, serious consideration should be given to withholding it from further breeding.

What are the JBLC doing?

  • We are working with Jo Tucker to organise a seminar on auto-immune disease to discuss current knowledge and provide breeders with a forum for their questions and concerns.
  • We are currently considering the best ways of co-ordinating health information and considering some ideas as to the way forward, looking at the long term health and welfare of the breed and taking the professional advice available via the KC and AHT.
  • In the meantime we would urge members to use BeaCon, an open health registry set up in the USA, to submit health information for their Beardies.
  • We have set up the DNA databank for Beardies with the AHT. We know that many of you have contributed DNA in the form of swabs or blood to various research projects over the years. Unfortunately research projects are dependent on their funding, and sometimes on the personnel not leaving to take up other posts! Occasionally samples may be destroyed or difficult to trace once the work ceases. The AHT, however, works in partnership with the Kennel Club and have undertaken to store DNA in perpetuity. This makes it a valuable resource for any future research, or for examination should any new genetically inherited diseases crop up. We urge all members to submit samples from all their Beardies - and remember to update the AHT on their dogs ongoing health - especially should any health condition occur AND just as importantly, if the dog lives a long healthy life!
  • We continue to look at the best ways of addressing auto-immune conditions in the breed, utilizing the current available knowledge and scientific advice. We hope that owners and breeders will join with us by being open and provide information about dogs affected by these conditions. Any such information can be sent to our Breed Health Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ayrton - email her here - and will be treated with the utmost sensitivity.

Published: 13 July 2015 (edited: 10 May 2018)