June 2004 - News from the
GSD Information Group
By Dorothy A. Cullum
After publication of concern about the reappearance of Epilepsy in the GSD, the following piece has been written. The writer Joyce Ixer worked for many years with Dr Phyllis Croft and Isobel Donkin on researching lines which were called into question relating to this subject. Epilepsy has always been with dogs and became a serious problem in the GSD in the late 1960's. Research was started at Cambridge and Glasgow in the early 70's taking us as far as it was possible to go in those days. Evidence showed that there were many causes, of fits. Epilepsy should be confirmed by EEG (Electroencephalogram).
With kennelled dogs fits can unfortunately be missed as they often occur when waking from sleep. Dogs fit at a lower threshold than bitches, so it can take an illness or severe shock before a bitch fits. If it is inherited, fits usually start at around 18 months to 2 years (sometimes earlier) continuing at fairly regular intervals. Suitable treatment can usually be found to control the fits, which can be very disturbing in large dogs. The mode of inheritance is likely to be very complicated. The problem became serious in the GSD because a Champion Stud Dog was an Epileptic and in spite of this knowledge, was used widely, and his lines are still with us. Unfortunately at the same time other dogs were being used and known to be producing fitting offspring, to different bitches. It takes two to tango! A list of suspects was produced by Dr Helen Hein in the mid 80's which are still used and these have been added to by Dr M. Willis in his book Genetics of the GSD. ALL BREEDERS should be aware of these lines as Dr Willis suggests "Avoid" producing a build-up of these names but not completely avoid them. Unfortunately the list has not been completely updated, and names are mostly off the 5 generation pedigree. Miss Donkin researched the problem fully for many years and would if requested research pedigrees for suspects, but when she died although she left records she had not published any information nor left any instructions for this to be done. If we are to keep this problem under control it must it must be encouraged to come out into the open and not become a witch hunt.
Dr Phyllis Croft said in her article in 1989:
"That it must be realised that it is not a disgrace to find a dog with primary epilepsy, for it can happen to owners who take the greatest care with their breeding programme"
So please read all you can and if you find you have a PROVED fitter do announce it by giving the SIRE and the DAM and D.O.B. so others can avoid making the same mistakes.
The breeding should not be repeated and the pedigree studied. If you wish to check a pedigree prior to mating etc please contact one of the names below. The GSD Information Group is constantly being requested to check pedigrees for newly and established epileptic lines. The list has been brought up to date by concerned owners of such animals who have sent copies of the effected animals pedigrees.
Further to the article in 2002 about the finding of a Marker for A/F in GSD's I have some very exciting news. The Vet who did his PhD on another problem and found the marker, went into private practise. He was so affected by the number of animals he saw with this problem he has returned to Uni. to do more research on the subject. HE NEEDS help re. financial backing as this is proving expensive. He is trying not only to perfect a test to eliminate carriers but he is also trying to help diagnose this and other bowel problems associated with the GSD. This RESEARCH is PURELY for the GSD.
I am therefore asking anyone who would like to donate to Research for this problem to please send donations, no matter how small, to me CQ's etc made out to the GSD Information Group, so we can give a small token of assistance to this Vet. One breeder has already donated money enabling the vet to purchase a centrifuge for this research. I am told by the Prof. he is working with that his project is being held up due to the expense of having to book a time to use this machine, which is well worn and constantly needs repairs. This is a great step forward in the right direction, so please be generous and help him to help you.
Please be aware, one may not have a line which suffers from this problem, but one could have.
I can tell you that his research is questioning many reasons as to the problem developing.
Stress being the front runner, especially if the weakness is present thus starting the problem off.
Now that the problem is being followed up please do not be complacent on either of the above problems, as they are not going to just disappear. So think of the breed and make this a MARKER for us all to improve the GSD's health.
Information packs on both subjects and others are available, (plus pedigree checking) at a small charge of £3. Please make cheques payable to the GSD information Group.
For further Information please contact : Dorothy (01277 220933), Joyce (01962 776 239) or Chris (01223 208 216)
2003 Research News