Microphthalmia (RBP 4) DNA testing for the soft coated wheaten terrier dog breed

Microphthalmia (RBP 4) DNA testing for the soft coated wheaten terrier dog breed

Health & Safety

The soft coated wheaten terrier is a medium-sized dog from the Kennel Club’s terrier grouping, which were originally bred as working farm dogs, as the breed is versatile, adaptive, and capable of carrying out a number of different working roles such as hunting and guarding.

Soft coated wheaten terriers aren’t hugely common these days in the UK and they’re way down the popularity list in 150th position, but these interesting and unique terriers have a lot to recommend them to owners from all walks of life.

Dogs of the breed are very lively and active and so, need a lot of exercise, and they are also very smart dogs that learn new skills quickly and that are very amenable to fun, varied training. They retain all of the best-known core terrier traits too, such as a high prey drive, bags of endurance, heaps of tenacity and often, a stubborn streak a mile wide!

However, they also have a reputation for being rather less pushy and potentially dominant than many other terrier breeds, which can make their care and management somewhat less of a challenge. That said, the soft coated wheaten terrier tends to be fairly high-maintenance on the grooming front, and their distinctive coats need a lot of care and attention to keep them in good condition.

Soft coated wheaten terriers tend to be hardy and robust dogs that aren’t sickly or overly fragile, but there are a number of hereditary health problems that can be inherited by dogs of the breed, and one of these is called microphthalmia RBP 4. This is a condition that affects the dog’s eyes, and which can cause a number of other problems too that can affect both the dog’s appearance, and their quality of life and longevity.

Fortunately, microphthalmia RBP 4 in the soft coated wheaten terrier has been identified to be caused by a specific gene defect, which can be identified in dogs by means of DNA testing. If you are considering breeding from your own soft coated wheaten terrier or putting them to stud, it is highly recommended that both of the dogs within the prospective mating match be DNA screened first, to ensure that they won’t pass the condition on to their own offspring.

In this article we will provide a basic outline of what microphthalmia in the soft coated wheaten terrier is, explain how it is inherited, and tell you how to get your own dog DNA tested to find out their status. Read on to learn more about DNA testing for microphthalmia in the soft coated wheaten terrier.

What is microphthalmia (RBP 4)?

Microphthalmia is a hereditary disorder that affects the eyes, resulting in them being much smaller than normal, which is evident from as soon as affected puppies first open their eyes. The condition also causes a number of other anatomical problems, and ultimately results in an irreversible blindness.

Microphthalmia in the soft coated wheaten terrier occurs because of a mutation within the RBP 4 gene, which in turn leads to a deficiency in vitamin A in the dam’s body whilst she is carrying her litter. This means that the pups in utero don’t get enough vitamin A to support healthy growth and development of the eyes and other areas, which cannot be corrected or cured.

How is microphthalmia (RBP 4) inherited within the soft coated wheaten terrier dog breed?

Microphthalmia RBP 4 in the soft coated wheaten terrier is not contagious, and cannot be passed on like an infection. A dog will only be born with microphthalmia if they inherit the gene fault for the condition from their parents.

Microphthalmia RBP 4 in the soft coated wheaten terrier is passed down to puppies following an autosomal recessive means of heredity, with the penetrance of the anomaly determined by the pup’s maternal genotype.

This means that even if a pup inherits two gene faults for the condition and so, are affected on a genetic level, they will probably only actually develop the resulting microphthalmia if their mother is herself affected by the condition.

Should the litter’s dam have carrier status for the condition but be unaffected by it herself, there is still a chance that the pups will inherit the affected form of the condition, but this is relatively unlikely.

Getting a soft coated wheaten terrier DNA tested for microphthalmia RBP 4

Because soft coated wheaten terriers may be carriers of the gene fault for microphthalmia without being affected by it themselves, all prospective soft coated wheaten terrier breeders are advised to have their dog DNA tested for the RBP 4 gene fault prior to going ahead with a mating match.

To find out a dog’s status, you just need to let your vet know your intentions and book your dog in for an appointment to have a DNA sample taken from them. Your vet will then send this sample off to a dedicated testing laboratory, who will return a definitive result for the tested dog to their owner.



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