Health information
(Updated June 20th,2009)

People who love their kerries, should be interested in their health as much as they are in their temperament and
conformation. Just like with kids, who wouldn't want to have the Best, the Smartest, the Healthiest ???

Kerries, just like any other dog breed, are prone to certain diseases and there are health tests to decrease
the risk of  spreading the defects.

Currently, we have available simple DNA tests  (cheek swabs) for:

  • BLOOD clotting disorders -Factor Xl Deficiency &  vWd  disease (deficiency of co-factor of factor VIII.)
  • NEUROLOGICAL disorders- Degenerative Myelopathy (NEW Test!)

Other tests are performed by direct examination by general veterinarian or veterinary specialist and are  
listed in OFA database:

  • EYES-test by CERF for problems as an entropion (inherited or acquired), distichiasis (inherited),
    keratoconjunctivitis Sicca ("Dry Eye"; Inherited or acquired)
  • HIP DYSPLASIA- test by hip X-Rays by OFA and/or Penn-Hip technique. Can be performed by general
    (OFA) or trained practitioner (PennHip).
This is a polygenic disorder, so no simple DNA test exist. Only 5 generations (parents and all siblings) tested
"excellent" have chance to guarantee an "excellent" offspring .
  • LUXATION of the Patella (knee cap) - inherited disease test by general practitioner and approved by OFA.
  • HYPOTHYROIDISM - simple blood test performed by laboratory and approved by OFA
  • HEART diseases - mostly a congenital problems causing audible heart murmur, evaluation performed by
    specialist

Other diseases listed below are usually reportable at discretion of the  breeder and are not  listed in OFA
adatabase:

  • EARS: Chronic Otitis Externa- possible allergies
  • SKIN: Epidermal Cysts/Sebaceous Gland Cysts, Dermal Cysts, Footpad Keratoses (Corns),
    Nasodigital Keratoses: Mostly inherited, rarely acquired.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM: Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy (Cerebellar Cortical Abiotrophy; PNA)-  
    inherited. Read more HERE (also pedigree of affected pups available for purchase)
  • REPRODUCTIVE: Crytorchidism - inherited, Pseudohermaphroditism
  • SKELETAL: Missing teeth- inherited or acquired. One of the parents should have full dentition. Not
    recommended to breed dogs with missing teeth or extra incisors.
  • AUTO-IMMUNE Diseases: autoimmune hemolytic anemia, thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, and systemic lupus
    erythematosus.
  • CANCER

Full article is posted at USKBTC webpage (http://www.uskbtc.com/article.php/13)

THE TESTING AVAILABLE FOR ABOVE MENTIONED DISORDERS IS NOT OVERTLY EXPENSIVE.  
PUPPIES ARE SOLD (FOR $$$) TO PEOPLE WHO -EVEN IF THEY DON'T MENTION IT- ARE
LOOKING FOR A HEALTHY DOG.

              THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOT TO TEST. NOR TO BREED TO UNTESTED STUD.
                                           NOR TO BUY FROM UNTESTED PARENTS.

                            
  WHAT MAKES US BETTER THEN PUPPY MILLS?
                      BETTER THEN AKC REGISTERED BACKYARD BREEDERS???

                                                      THE LEVEL OF CARE!
                                              NOT JUST WORDS, BUT ACTIONS!
                      NOT JUST CHAMPION CERTIFICATE & CLUB MEMBERSHIPs...
                                      BUT OFA DOCUMENTED HEALTH TESTS!

There are so called "respectable" breeders threatening those who test and share their results. By ridiculing the posted
results, they try to turn the attention away from the fact, that THEY are the problem and do not love and respect our
breed as they say they do.  Pointing finger is soooo much easier.....

This trend is also mentioned by known researcher, lecturer and author Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia in article "
Breed
Dilemmas and Extinction"-

And how do you find dogs the results of you are interested in?

OFA has an easy search to dive in: http://www.offa.org/search.html  

Currently OFA co-operates with other laboratories performed specific testing.
The "newest" test in kerry family- the degenerative myelopathy ( $65) -OFA posts at no additional cost to the owner.
But the owner must approve the disclosure of carrier or affected individual.
OFA also offers FREE re-check listings and free listing of affected dogs.
Otherwise there is $15 of registration fee of the results.

  For many people testing is scary just because of potentially unpleasant results.
These breeders worry, that they will need to loose their breeding stock if the defect is discovered.

But there is" a way out" and that is by testing and picking the right animals to IMPROVE the breeding program.

What a breeder can do is become educated on what genetic diseases are, how they are expressed (become obvious
instead of hidden), how serious they are in terms of risks to quality of life, and how to balance the risks so the dogs
have the best chance at a good quality of life.

And future owner? That person should consider in trying to evaluate the ethical qualities of a breeder.

Great example of the importance of knowledge are two diseases- vWd and hip dysplasia.
vWd , as well as DM (degenerative myelopathy), is a single gene trait, simple autosomal recessive (huh????...
Wikipedia) disease and  DNA test is currently available.

HD  is polygenic, with involvement of at least 5 genes.

Dog affected by vWd or DM is carrying gene/two allelas "aa". (a= affected, N= normal). 'Clear" dog -is "NN". As the
offspring gets each allele from one parent- the results in breeding these two would be "carrier"-Na. Lucky dogs... if the
carrier-Na is bred to clear NN- there is already 50% chance in improving the breed- as this combination leads to 50%
NN and 50% NAa offspring. By using this logic you would never come back to producing affected dog!

Now imagine HD- genes ABCDE in 100% perfect genotype. Or the really poor dog- with the worst genotype -of
"abcde" and severe hip dysplasia.
Just how many combinations we can get by breeding these dogs and how do we know which and how many good...or
bad...genes will prevail in our next litter???

Without testing we will never know.

More explanations of "
Mendel's Puzzle"  (by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia)

Recommended HEALTH info  webpages:

von Willebrandt disease-WEB
PennHip- hip improvement program -WEB
OFA health database for dogs (thyroid, hips, elbows, heart, etc)- WEB
CERF- eye disease database- WEB
Factor XI mutation- WEB

* Next Chapter- How our Kiara increased the worldwide interest in testing*