Breed Club Kidney Testing

Two different types of kidney problems have been identified as prevalent to a sufficient degree as to be cause for concern within the English bull terrier dog breed, being polycystic kidney disease and hereditary nephritis respectively. Both of these conditions are complex and serious, and can prove fatal, and this means that kidney disease is considered to be one of the main threats to the overall health of the English bull terrier breed as a whole.

For this reason, the English Bull terrier breed club strongly advocates for pre-breeding health screening for dogs of the breed in order to ensure that only healthy dogs are bred from, in order to reduce incidences of kidney diseases within the breed and improve the overall health of the breed’s gene pool.

In this article, we will look at kidney disease and how it can affect dogs of the English bull terrier breed in more detail, including how the condition can be identified prior to breeding, and what sort of dogs should be tested. Read on to learn more.

More about kidney disease in the English bull terrier breed

Kidney failure in the English bull terrier bred has been a known problem for many years, and has often been referred to as “the silent killer” because affected dogs may be totally healthy for many years before suddenly going downhill very quickly.

Once kidney failure has begun, there is no way to reverse or cure it, and treatment is usually concerned with improving the dog’s quality of life until this is no longer viable, after which the dog will usually be euthanized in order to prevent any further suffering.

Whilst kidney disease within the breed is known to have a heredity congenital element to it, exactly how it is inherited and the gene mutations that potentially cause the condition to present, there is definitely a hereditary element to the condition, which means that in order to identify the risk factors for any given litter, testing of the adult dogs is required, and repeated testing throughout the life of the dog is recommended as testing cannot predict the future, only diagnose what is present at the time.

How can dogs be screened for kidney disease?

Kidney testing for the English bull terrier involves taking a urine sample and running what is known as a protein/creatinine ratio test, and comparing the ratio reading to the accepted norms.

A reading of 1.0 or lower is considered to be normal, but because a figure on the test’s sliding scale does not guarantee future health, dogs with a protein/creatinine ratio higher than 0.3 should not be used for breeding, as they can pass on the potential for kidney problems to their offspring, in whom it may potentially be more acute and serious.

At the time of writing, studies and data have yet to be performed to determine the correlation between a protein/creatinine ratio of above 0.3 and later development of kidney disease, but because the condition is relatively widely spread within the breed, including having been the cause of death of several notable show winners, the breed club’s guidance errs on the side of caution in order to reduce as far as possible the risk of the condition being passed on through the breed line.

From the point of view of the dog owner, your local vet will simply need to take a urine sample from your dog, which will either be sent off to a specialist laboratory for assessment, or analysed directly by the vet themselves if this falls within their area of specialisation.

A certificate can then be issued to confirm the dog’s status at the time of testing, which can be helpful when looking for a mating match, or assist with providing peace of mind when selling puppies of the breed.

It is important to note that the protein/creatinine test does not guarantee the future health and kidney status of the dog, and ergo is not scientifically conclusive-the test only indicates that at the time of testing, the dog’s parameters were normal or not. For this reason, stud dogs and dogs used for breeding will generally be tested every couple of years, in order to identify any changes early on.

What sort of dogs should be screened for kidney problems?

Any English bull terrier intended to be used for breeding should be screened for kidney problems before going ahead, and it is also important to ensure that the other dog in the mating match (if not yours)s is tested too.

If you own an English bull terrier that you do not intend to breed from, it can still be very useful to find out if their protein/creatinine ratio is within healthy norms or not, alongside of finding out the health of their ancestors and other dogs within the line too.


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