Clinical Perspective: Neurological Disorders

Hereditary neurological diseases are often very aggressive conditions that reduce the quality of life of the dog significantly. Some of these conditions are so aggressive that euthanasia is the only option as symptoms progress. Fortunately most hereditary neurological disorders are quite rare.

Severe symptoms - carriers predominate in adult dogs

Most of the neurological diseases tested by our panel are inherited recessively and cause severe, often progressive symptoms. This leads to the fact that most dogs tested by our panel that carry mutations causing these severe disorders, carry only one copy of the mutation and are thus carriers of the disorder. Carriers do not have symptoms themselves but can pass the genetic defect to their offspring and produce affected offspring if mated to another dog carrying the disorder. The most common neurological disorders tested by our panel are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. The incidence of the most common causative mutations, considerable to severe neurological disorders tested by the MyDogDNA testing panel.

Breed Disorder Carriers and affected dogs
Alaskan Malamute Early-Onset Progressive Polyneuropathy 15 %
Finnish Hound Progressive Early-Onset Cerebellar Ataxia 19 %
Japanese Chin GM2 Gangliosidosis 8 %
Lagotto Romagnolo Lagotto Storage Disease 9 %
Old English Sheepdog Hereditary Ataxia 6 %
Parson Russell Terrier Late-Onset Ataxia SCA, LOA 11 %
Toy Fox Terrier Spinocerebellar Ataxia with Myokymia and/or Seizures (SCA) 8 %
Staffordshire Bull Terrier L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria 8 %
Standard Poodle Neonatal Encelopathy with Seizures 18 %
Tibetan Terrier Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 12 22 %
Wire-Haired Dachshund Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 3a 14 %

Avoiding severe suffering

Hereditary neurological disorders can cause severe reduction in the dog’s quality of life and cause severe suffering. Avoidance of rare hereditary neurological disorders is meaningful in purebred dog breeding given the severity of symptoms. Genetic testing offers breeders the ability to prevent seriously ill puppies from being born and to maintain genetic diversity at the same time. 

Dog-friendly diagnostics

Many hereditary neurological disorders are difficult to diagnose by other ways than genetic testing. Genetic testing offers a minimally invasive and dog-friendly diagnostics method for these disorders. Genetic testing can be conducted either from a buccal swab sample or from a blood sample. If suspicious clinical signs are seen in a dog, genetic testing is an easy way to find out if the dog carries a known genetic mutation causing the disease.