understanding inherited health problems in the working Aussie

Genetic Testing as a Tool

You may see listings here and on breeders’ sites with a lot of alphabet soup. A number of genetic tests have been developed to better predict inherited health problems in dogs and help breeders and puppy buyers make choices about the future health of their dogs. While not all breeders choose to test or do all the tests, more information is certainly better than none at all. Below is a list of the common tests you may see listed and the…

Read More

Inherited Problems in Australian Shepherds

INHERITED PROBLEMS IN AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS Aussies are generally a healthy breed, but any dog, whether purebred, “designer dog”, or mutt, can have genetic problems. In most breeds, certain kinds of problems are more commonly inherited than others. In Australian Shepherds, genetic disorders to be aware of include: • epilepsy • hip dysplasia • cataracts • auto immune disorders • double merle • MDR1 You can increase your likelihood of ending up with a healthy Aussie by following the “best practices”…

Read More

Sleeping Dragons — Hereditary Disease and Breeder Ethics

SLEEPING DRAGONS: HERIDITARY DISEASE AND BREEDER ETHICS by C.A.Sharp The world of purebred dogs rests on the shoulders of two sleeping dragons. The stockman in his pasture, the exhibitor in the ring and the breeder beside the whelping box feel the earth shudder when either is aroused. One of these dragons — hereditary disease — seems to have taken a heavy dose of caffeine. Breeders find themselves faced with a growing list of ills. The situation has become so serious…

Read More

The Price of Popularity; Popular Sires and Population Genetics

THE PRICE OF POPULARITY: POPULAR SIRES AND POPULATION GENETICS by C.A. Sharp Consider the hypothetical case of Old Blue, Malthound extraordinaire. Blue was perfect: Sound, healthy and smart. On week days he retrieved malt balls from dawn to dusk. On weekends he sparkled in malt field and obedience trials as well as conformation shows, where he baited to—you guessed it—malt balls. Everybody had a good reason to breed to Blue, so everybody did. His descendants trotted in his paw-prints on…

Read More

Rising Storm: The Immune System

THE RISING STORM: What Breeders Need to Know about the Immune System Winner of 2002 AKC/CHF Golden Paw Award by C.A. Sharp A complex and threatening storm is gathering on horizon. Reports of immune-mediated disease are on the rise in Australian Shepherds, as well as other purebred dogs. In magazines, on Internet discussion lists and at gatherings devoted to dogs autoimmune disease and allergies are regular topics. Immune-mediated disease results from excessive or inadequate action by the immune system. But…

Read More

Can You See? Inherited Eye Disease

CAN YOU SEE? Inherited Eye Disease in Aussies by C.A. Sharp (ed. note: C.A.Sharp is the president of the Australian Shepherd Genetics Institute, an organization ‘dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge of genetics in the Australian Shepherd, and the inherited diseases from which it sometimes suffers.’ She is a science writer and an internationally recognized lay expert on canine genetics and hereditary diseases.) Eye defects are the most common inherited problem in Australian Shepherds. Even discounting the problems…

Read More

Speaking Heresy; A Dispassionate View of Cross-breeding

SPEAKING HERESY: A DISPASSIONATE VIEW OF CROSS-BREEDING by C.A. Sharp Several years ago the working Australian Shepherd community was rocked by a scandal. One breeder was alleged to have produced cross-bred Aussies/Border Collies and registered them as purebred Australian Shepherds, in order to give the pups produced an advantage in Australian Shepherd Club of America working trials. An act of fraud may have been committed—on the registry and on the trial system, but ASCA could do nothing to prove the…

Read More

BINGO! Understanding Polygenetic Inheritance

BINGO! Understanding Polygenetic Inheritance by C.A.Sharp Everyone knows this old game: You place beans or other markers on numbered squares arranged in a grid as someone announces numbers pulled at random from a box. The first person to form a line of markers across the grid in any direction yells, “Bingo!” Breeding dogs is likeplaying Bingo, but instead of arranging beans on a card you are shuffling genes. When the right combination lines up, one or more of the puppies…

Read More

Inherited Epilepsy and Working Aussies

INHERITED EPILEPSY AND WORKING AUSSIES: MYTHS, FACTS, AND QUESTIONS An interview with C.A. Sharp by Kay Spencer C.A.Sharp is the president of the Australian Shepherd Genetics Institute, an organization ‘dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge of genetics in the Australian Shepherd, and the inherited diseases from which it sometimes suffers.’ She is a science writer and an internationally recognized lay expert on canine genetics and hereditary diseases. Q: Why should breeders concern themselves with inherited epilepsy if they…

Read More

Hip Check

HIP CHECK In the battle against canine hip dysplasia, identification, treatment, research, and careful breeding selection are the weapons of choice. by Jerold S Bell, DVM, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine (Working Aussie Source editor’s notes: C.A.Sharp writes, on the Australian Shepherd Genetic Institute website, that of the most common inherited maladies in Australian Shepherds, hip dysplasia probably is ranked fifth in frequency of occurrence, after cataracts, epilepsy, dental faults, and autoimmune disease—which she ranks in that order. Orthopedic…

Read More

Population Genetics and Breeding

POPULATION GENETICS AND BREEDING by John Armstrong Editors note: This article was originally published on The Canine Diversity Project website, which contains a wealth of material on the same subject. Highly recommended reading for all dog breeders. Early genetics When Mendel’s work was rediscovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, the new field of Genetics went in several directions. The T. H. Morgan (1) school quickly got tired of crossing green to yellow peas and moved on to discovering…

Read More
Join Our Newsletter