Neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration (NCCD) in Beagles

Neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration (NCCD) in Beagles

Health & Safety

Neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration or NCCD for short is a hereditary health condition that can be found in the Beagle dog breed, which becomes apparent in very young puppies, usually under the age of three weeks.

The condition becomes apparent when the young puppies begin to move around and during their early development, when they will tend to be slower to find their feet than the rest of their litter that is unaffected, and they will be more prone to falling over, showing a lack of coordination and be unable to coordinate their movements properly to achieve a normal walking gait.

The progression of the condition from the early point is very slow and not acute, but as it is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls movement and balance (the cerebellum) it cannot be cured or reversed.

As a hereditary health condition, neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration is passed on from parent dogs to their offspring by means of autosomal recessive heredity, and so it is important that dogs affected by the condition or that can pass it on are not used for breeding. The combination of genes from both parent dogs is what dictates the status of the puppies, and so testing for potential parent dogs before breeding is strongly advised.

In this article, we will look at neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration in Beagles in more detail, including how the heredity of the condition works, and how to get your dog tested. Read on to learn more.

More about neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration

Puppies affected by neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration will become symptomatic well before they reach the age at which they will usually be weaned and sold, often as early as two to three weeks old, when their eyes have just opened and they are beginning to find their way around independently.

In a mixed litter of dogs that are both affected and not affected, the affected puppies will appear to be slower to get going than the others, and uncoordinated and generally clumsy. When they do walk and move around, their gait will appear slow and clumsy, and they will tend to fall much more frequently than unaffected puppies.

However, the full extent of the problem will peak very quickly as well, and it rarely worsens beyond this stage. This means that the extent to which it affects any given puppy will be set from a very early stage, without a high likelihood of it worsening with age and growth.

What sort of dogs can be affected by the condition?

Neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration has been identified in the UK within the beagle dog breed, and so dogs of this breed should be considered as at potential risk of the condition and so, passing it on to their offspring. Cross breed dogs with partial beagle ancestry may too inherit the gene mutation responsible from the condition from one of their parent dogs, but because it is the combined result of the DNA and genes from both sides of the parentage that dictates the pup’s status, cross-breed dogs benefit from hybrid vigour and so, are less likely to inherit the condition.

How does the heredity of the condition work?

Neonatal cerebellar cortical degeneration is an autosomal recessive hereditary condition, which means that it is the combination of genes that any given dog inherits from both sides of their lineage that dictates their status with the condition. Dogs can be either clear, a carrier of the condition or affected by it, and different status combinations in parent dogs lead to different results for their litter.

  • Two clear dogs will have clear puppies.
  • Two affected dogs will have affected puppies.
  • Two carrier dogs will produce a litter in which each puppy has mixed odds- 50% chance of being a carrier, 25% chance of being clear, and 25% chance of being affected.
  • A clear dog and a carrier will produce 50:50 clear and carrier puppies.
  • A clear dog and an affected dog will produce carrier puppies.
  • A carrier dog and an affected dog will produce 50:50 carrier and affected puppies.

How to get your dog tested

In order to curb the wider spread of the condition across the gene pool of the beagle breed, beagle owners who may be considering breeding from their dog are strongly advised to have both the potential dam and the potential sire tested for their status, and use this information to make an informed decision on the viability of any potential match.

You will need to get a DNA swab from the dog in question (your vet can do this for you) in the form of either a blood sample, buccal swab or dew claw clipping, which is then sent off to one of The Kennel Club’s approved laboratories, who will then return the results.



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