VetGen - The leader in veterinary genetic disease research and genetic disease detection services for purebred animals

Breeds Serviced

  • Scottish Terrier
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Kooikerhondje

vWD Type III

Type III von Willebrand Disease (vWD) is a very severe form of the disease in which affected animals do not produce any von Willebrand Factor protein in their blood. This condition makes them more likely to bleed abnormally and severely. This can lead to life threatening consequences in situations such as accidental injuries, spaying, or neutering. Because it is an autosomal recessive disorder, Shetland Sheepdogs, Scottish Terriers and Kooikerhondje that are "Carriers" of the disease show no signs of vWD, yet can pass the gene along and perpetuate the disease through breeding. Without testing, the potential result is more affected animals.

Although there is a significant frequency of vWD in Shelties and Scotties, no effective treatments exist. Responsible breeders have attempted to use factor assay, protein-based tests for vWD but have been unsuccessful in reducing the frequency of the disease. There are simply too many variables, such as estrus and thyroid function which produce variation in test results, making these approaches less than ideal. Therefore, breeders have heretofore been unable to combat the disease by using responsible breeding strategies to reduce the incidence of vWD in future generations of dogs.

Based on research conducted at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan leading to the discovery of the mutations causing vWD in both Shetland Sheepdogs and Scottish Terriers, VetGen is proud to exclusively offer a non-invasive, highly reliable DNA-based test to detect mutated vWD genes. This test provides breeders and owners a definitive answer as to whether an animal is an "Affected", "Carrier", or "Clear". With this information in hand, breeders and owners have key insight into their bloodstock and can proceed to make informed decisions about training, showing, and breeding plans for each dog.

By following the simple instructions provided in VetGen's DNA Sample Collection Kit, dog owners and breeders collect DNA samples using a soft cheek brush. By gently brushing the inside of the dog's cheek, cells containing DNA are removed. It is this DNA sample that VetGen analyzes to determine the genetic status of each dog. As soon as VetGen receives the completed DNA Sample Collection Kit, >the DNA samples are processed and a diagnosis is formed. Within two to four weeks, this diagnosis is provided to the customer in a summary report.

Useful for dogs of any age, the DNA sample collection, analysis, and reporting activities can be completed before puppies are placed at 6 to 10 weeks. As a supplement to the summary report, VetGen can assist its customers with genetic counseling services to further help them make informed breeding decisions to eliminate the vWD gene from their bloodlines while maintaining the integrity of their breed.

Disease Gene Frequency Tested

VetGen has been asked by the respective breed clubs to post, from time to time, the statistical results of the vWD DNA tests by breed. The table below contains the results as of July 28, 2008.

vWD Genotype
vWD Type III Clear Carrier Affected
Scottish Terrier 89.7% 10% 0.3%
Shetland Sheepdog 90.3% 9.4% 0.3%

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the Scottish Terrier Club of Michigan, Scottish Terrier Breeders from around the country, the American Kennel Club, Morris Animal Foundation, and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for their support of canine genetic research at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University that led to the genetic test for canine von Willebrand's disease (vWD) in Scotties.

Canine: vWD Patents
US Patent No. 6,040,143 and 6,074,832
Canadian Patent No. CA 2261015
European Patent No. EP 0961836
Licensed Exclusively by The Board of Regents of the
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) System to VetGen LLC