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Test & Register: Health Registries Open to Scotties NOW

Carole Fry Owen
Question: "How long before Scotties will have health registries?"

"I sat on the floor and hugged my CMO puppy," remembers Cairn Terrier breeder Clare Redditt.
"’Fraiser,’ I said, ‘something good is going to come out of this pain!’"

It did. Redditt helped develop registries for craniomandibular osteopathy and other diseases in Cairns. She is the genie who jump-started Scottie/Cairn/Westie CMO DNA research, and she chairs Cairn Terrier Club of America’s health committee.

"Cairn breeders really did do pedigree tracking with our CMO open registry," praises Redditt.
"They lessened their risk of CMO. Lately Cairn breeders have been more relaxed, and CMO is peppering our breed again."

Scottie owners whose dogs suffer CMO like Fraiser, and more lingering conditions including cerebellar abiotrophy, Cushing’s disease, epilepsy, liver shunt and liver abnormalities, hypothyroidism and all our cancers grope for answers and ideas.

No wonder "registry" gets popular buzz. Canine health registries can help lower incidence of inherited disease in a breed--for complex multigenic diseases like hip dysplasia as well as for simpler recessive diseases like CMO.

"When will there be registries for Scottish Terriers?" Friends, they exist right now! Someday there may be others.

Developing other new registries is not simple. In the 1990s when Gail Gaines was chairman of Scottish Terrier Club of America’s (STCA) education and health commit-tee, she was maybe the first to investigate possible Scottie health registries.

Gaines learned that accurate diagnosis of dogs is paramount in any registry. Without that, registries mean nothing, and innocent dogs can be branded disease carriers. The condition has to be something a veterinarian can diagnose!" explains Gaines. "That eliminates Scottie Cramp." Why? Breeders and owners diagnose most Scottie Cramp. The coming DNA test, how-ever, would make a Scottie Cramp registry possible.

" I don’t feel burning hot about registries now. They’re more complicated than I thought. An epilepsy registry would be hard because of difficulty of diagnosing true epilepsy. One registry we can really use now though is vWD," judges Gaines. "If I’m go-ing to breed to a dog, I’m going to ask for von Willebrand’s Disease DNA evidence. I offer it, too."

Gaines surely wonders: are breeders who don’t discuss health issues, question health status, or track offspring likely to use health registry information, just because a registry exists? Scottie vWD Registry

Gaines does use the Orthopedic Foun-dation for Animal’s vWD registry. Red and Noah are two of her Scotties on it. Noah is, in fact, OFA’s newest entry. "Dogs used at stud, I put on the registry. They can affect many."

Tony, Trevor, Brubeck, Cooper, Bucky, Hauser and Jack are other Scottie boys whose floossier registered names I ran across in the vWD registry. They, Red and Noah (among others!) do not carry the vWD gene. They are "clear." I headline the guys because male dogs often produce more lit-ters than females, with greater impact on the health of a breed—good or bad. These boys have not produced vWD with any female! And will not!

OFA’s vWD registry has 68 Scotties, all "clear." I am proud of every owner who has entered Scotties on the registry! Problem is the vWD Registry does not give the whole story. VetGen reports testing 1,007 Scotties since 1996. Others were tested during devel-opment of the vWD test. Only 6% of tested Scotties are on the vWD registry—none of the carriers or affecteds. "

We need to start somewhere, but it worries me that enough people are not using the vWD test, let alone registering the re-sults," evaluates former STCA Health Trust Fund chairman Barbara DeSaye. Years ago she helped find and interest vWD research-ers and with her Michigan club carried the fundraising torch to the wire. Like Gaines, she later looked into registries.

Registries can’t exist without testing. Though a low percentage of all tested Scot-ties are on the vWD registry, still fewer Scottish Terriers are even tested. Only 87 Scotties were vWD tested in 2001 and 95 in 2002, years when the American Kennel Club (AKC) registered between 3,000 and 4,000 Scotties.

VetGen figures show that carrier in-cidence for vWD in Scotties is about 10%. Using AKC Scottish Terrier registration numbers (and there are many other Scotties bred!), VetGen’s John Duffendack says at least eight or nine vWD-affected Scotties are born annually. I heard of a new one this week. At least 60 bleeders in the seven years we’ve had the test! All 60 totally prevent-able!

Reasons to Use Registries

  • To document disease status in individual dogs.
  • To assist healthy breeding decisions.
  • To provide historic records.
  • To show incidence of disease in a breed.
  • To provide peer pressure for testing.
  • To publicly reward those who value testing.
  • To assure buyers of decreased risk of disease.
  • To provide data researchers need.
  • To locate affected dogs and their families when researchers need DNA.

Registries differ in the amount of in-formation they divulge. The more the better, indicates Dr. George Padgett, the canine ge-neticist who helped STCA develop its 1995 Health Survey, then interpreted its data.

Open, semi-open, and closed registries are the choices. OFA’s registries started as closed ones, and OFA released only normal results. Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is still a closed registry.

Open registries provide information on all properly diagnosed dogs whose owners submit releases. That includes affected dogs and carriers. Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals (GDC) pioneered open registries, and its databases are now at OFA.

Semi-open registries, which OFA cur-rently uses, release test results as directed by owners. They are informed consent databases. Owners can choose whether to release affected and carrier results or only clear results.

Cairn Terrier registries for CMO, Legg-Calve-Perthes, hip dysplasia, patel-lar luxation, globoid cell leukodystrophy and eye diseases were all open registries when at GDC. Westie’s WatcH registry for CMO, Legg-Calve-Perthes and hip dysplasia have been open registries, too. Dr. Padgett advised Cairn and Westie innovators who developed these registries.

" Use an open registry," urges geneticist Padgett in the most underlined tones. "If it’s not open, don’t bother. When affected dogs are known, you can define carrier probability and risk of producing the disease."

CHIC is New A newly emerging registry, one OFA manages for AKC’s Canine Health Founda-tion, is CHIC. CHIC stands for Canine Health Information Center. National breed clubs which participate designate desired tests for each breed. Thus far, 20 clubs use CHIC.

An important CHIC service still under development is DNA banking for blood sam-ples of individual dogs. As research projects materialize, a club could release DNA from designated dogs. The beauty of CHIC bank-ing is that the DNA from one blood sample is unlimited. DNA from the same dogs can be used in multiple studies.

Even if you build it, they may not come. " We can’t get Westie people to X-ray, so there is nothing to put on a registry! There’ve been no new additions to the WatcH CMO registry in four years," re-lates Anne Sanders, West Highland White Terrier Club of America president. The WHWTCA health survey of 1999 showed a carrier incidence of 22.1% for the CMO gene in Westies.

WatcH is unique as a private health registry. With several other Westie breed-ers and Dr. Padgett, Sanders in the late 1980s founded WatcH. It never published lists of dogs, but for only $5 breeders could obtain a pedigree analysis giving percentage of risk for given breedings.

"Registries have been frustrating for me. We’ve tried the encouragement route. Now we are going to lead by example. Some Westie breeders who are winning are going to test and register," states Sanders. "I’m recommending our club go with CHIC."

Sanders says it so well: "Those people who are concerned and want to make a posi-tive impact just need to do it (test and use registries) and not worry whether anyone else does." Join me again next issue for more on registries. There are little known ideas about how registries can be used to reduce inci-dence of complex diseases, even cancers. I’ll also explain how you can make your Scottie count for our breed by using existing health registries.

Until then, mark Sept. 5, on your cal-endar for the exciting Scottie eye clinic in Michigan. Once again, the innovative Scot-tish Terrier Club of Michigan is leading the pack. It is sponsoring the first CERF eye clinic for Scotties. If you’re up north, take in the Michigan Scottie specialty Sept. 6, and have your Scotties CERFed the previous night at the show site by a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Place: Burton, MI; Time: 6 to 9 p.m., Sept. 5; Price: $25 first dog, $15 each additional dog; Reserva-tion, $10 deposit to Barbara DeSaye, 2702 Pensicola Ct., Lapeer, MI 48446; (810) 667-0942.

Why CERF your Scottie? In eight years (1991-1999) only 118 Scotties have had CERF exams. We know little about Scotties’ eyes. CERF figures show about 58% of tested Scotties have been "normal." We need more CERF tests. The Michigan Scottie Club points the way for us. Your Scotties, too, can be in the van-guard on health registries, wherever you live. Additional reading: "Scottie Health Registries,"

Great Scots Magazine, November/December, 1998.©
2003 Carole Owen

Registries Open to Scotties

  • Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)
  • Eye Conditions
  • Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
  • vonWillebrand’s Disease (vWD)
  • Thyroid
  • Cardiac
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathathy (CMO)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes (OFA’s new all-breed registry)

Reprinted with permission from Great Scots Magazine, May/June 2003.