Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis DNA health testing for the Norfolk terrier dog breed

Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis DNA health testing for the Norfolk terrier dog breed

Health & Safety

The Norfolk terrier is a native British dog breed that isn’t as popular as many other breeds of the terrier type, but one that has a special place in the nation’s hearts nonetheless. Norfolk terriers were originally bred as working dogs for ratting and vermin control, and as one of the smallest of the working terrier breeds, this is a role that they excelled at.

Today’s Norfolk terriers are much more commonly kept as pets than working dogs, and they are very lively little dogs with plenty of street smarts, bags of personality, and a fun-loving, outgoing nature.

Owning a terrier of any type is sure to keep the dog’s owners on their toes, and the Norfolk terrier is no exception – dogs of the breed almost always have a very high prey drive, as well as being full of beans and very tenacious. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and at their best, but they also tend to be very amenable to training and love having a job to do or a role to fulfil.

Norfolk terriers are also reputed to be very good with children, a trait that isn’t shared with all terrier types, another point in their favour for dog lovers who wish to add a terrier to a home with children.

Dogs of the Norfolk terrier breed are generally robust and long-lived too, with an average lifespan of 12-15 years. There are a number of hereditary health conditions that can be found within the breed’s wider gene pool, but there are no mandated DNA testing protocols in place within the breed for individual Norfolk terrier health conditions.

However, there are a number of optional and advisory DNA tests that Norfolk terrier breeders might elect to undertake on their breeding stock, to identify the markers of some of the potentially harmful health conditions that dogs of the breed can inherit.

With an average purchase price of £1,272 (According to Pets4Homes Norfolk Terrier Statistics) for a Kennel Club registered Norfolk terrier puppy, undertaking health tests where available can help breeders to ensure that they produce healthy litters, and provide an added layer of reassurance for buyers who will be making a significant financial investment in their purchase.

One elective DNA test for Norfolk terriers that breeders might wish to consider carrying out is designed to identify the markers of a condition called epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, which is a hereditary disorder that affects the dog’s skin and sometimes, the pads of their paws too.

In this article we will explain how to get a Norfolk terrier tested for the markers of epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, how the condition is inherited, and the effects that it can have on affected dogs. Read on to learn more about epidermolytic hyperkeratosis DNA testing for Norfolk terriers.

What is Norfolk terrier epidermolytic hyperkeratosis?

Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis is also sometimes referred to as ichthyosis, and both terms mean the same thing in this sense – however, ichthyosis comes in many different forms and can be caused by several different gene flaws and triggers, but the condition we call epidermolytic hyperkeratosis in the Norfolk terrier has been narrowed down to a specific gene and so, is specific to the breed.

Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis is a hereditary skin disorder that is chronic and long-term, and which causes fragile, sensitive skin that may be prone to damage and infection, and that may have a hardened or scaly texture that is prone to cracking and weeping. Affected dogs may also exhibit signs of hyperpigmentation of the skin and potentially coat, and may suffer from abnormally thick and hard footpads and toes too.

How is epidermolytic hyperkeratosis in Norfolk terriers inherited?

Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis in the Norfolk terrier is inherited by means of autosomal recessive heredity, and the status of any individual dog is determined by the status of both of their parent dogs and so, the genes that they pass on to their offspring.

A Norfolk terrier’s epidermolytic hyperkeratosis status is expressed as either clear, carrier or affected, and once you know the status of any two individual dogs, you can calculate the status of their offspring if they should be mated with each other.

Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis status in the Norfolk terrier can be determined as follows:

  • Two clear dogs will breed only clear puppies.
  • Two affected dogs will breed only affected puppies.
  • Two carrier dogs will produce a litter with mixed odds for each pup of 50% carrier status, 25% affected status and 25% clear status.
  • A clear dog and an affected dog will produce a litter of carriers.
  • A clear dog and a carrier will produce a litter with mixed odds for each pup of 50% clear and 50% carrier.
  • A carrier and an affected dog will produce a litter with mixed odds for each pup of 50% carrier and 50% affected.

How to get a Norfolk terrier DNA tested for epidermolytic hyperkeratosis

If you’re thinking of breeding from your Norfolk terrier and want to find out if there is a risk of epidermolytic hyperkeratosis being passed onto the subsequent litter, you will need to get both the dam and the sire you plan to breed from DNA tested to find out their status.

To do this, you just need to get your vet to take a DNA sample from the dogs, which can be in the form of either a buccal swab or a blood sample. This is then sent off to an approved testing laboratory in the UK, who will return the results of the dog’s status to their owner.



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