The German shepherd is a dog breed that really needs no introduction, and this large breed of dog is in fact the 8th most popular breed of all within the UK, out of a total of almost 250 different dog breeds and types that can be found on these shores.
German shepherds have a long and distinguished history as excellent working dogs within a huge number of varied roles, ranging from crowd control to watchdog and guard dog roles to detection and deterrent jobs and much more besides.
German shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that also usually have analytical minds and a lot of common sense, and this, coupled with the strong bonds that they form with their owners and handlers and so, their willingness to learn and take direction, is what helped to secure their positions as one of the best working dog breeds in the world.
Dogs of the breed are today hugely popular as pets within the UK too, and German shepherds have a huge following of fans and enthusiasts all across the world.
The German shepherd breed is one that has changed quite a lot of over time in terms of their appearance, as tastes change and what people want and expect from their dogs’ looks have evolved. This, combined with the breed’s popularity, has meant that today’s German shepherds are rather more prone to suffering from congenital defects and hereditary health conditions than was historically the case; and there is quite a long list of hereditary German shepherd health conditions that owners of dogs of the breed should be aware of.
Many of the German shepherd hereditary health conditions that can occur within dogs of the breed can be identified within breed lines by means of DNA testing, which enables breeders who elect to have their dogs tested to gain a better insight into their health, and vitally, to make sound mating matches of parent dogs to produce healthy litters.
One German shepherd health condition for which a DNA test is available is called renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis, and this is a type of inherited cancer syndrome that can have a significant impact on the lifestyle of affected dogs and also, potentially shorten their lifespans.
In this article we will explain in more detail what renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis in the German shepherd is, how the condition is inherited, and how to get a German shepherd DNA test to find out their status. Read on to learn more.
Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis or RCND for short is a hereditary cancer syndrome that can be found in some dogs of the German shepherd breed. The condition causes a range of issues, including the development of abnormal skin and kidney growths in dogs of either gender, and in female dogs, the development of abnormal growths within the uterus too.
Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis in the German shepherd usually begins with symptoms that present on the skin, such as petite but hard lumps underneath the skin’s surface, often in the region of the legs and head at first.
Simultaneously with skin growths developing, most dogs with RCND also begin to form nodules and cysts within the kidneys, which results in the kidneys becoming misshapen, enlarged and scarred.
Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis in the German shepherd is a progressive condition that will go on to cause issues in affected dogs including anaemia, loss of condition, and kidney disease.
Generally, renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis in the German shepherd doesn’t begin to develop symptoms in affected dogs until they reach the age of around five or over, and the condition is often very slow to develop, usually taking many years to reach the acute stage.
German shepherds with renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis tend to die of kidney failure or related complications, usually around the age of between 9-11 years old. However, RCND may be fatal in younger dogs if they inherit two rather than one copies of the gene mutation that causes the condition to develop.
Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis is a hereditary health condition in German shepherds, which is inherited by means of autosomal dominant heredity. This means that even if only one of a dog’s two parents passes on the gene fault that results in the condition, their litter or offspring may well inherit the disorder – they have around a 50% chance of doing so, even if the other parent dog is totally clear of the condition.
A pup that inherits two of the gene faults for RCND – one from each parent – is exponentially more likely to inherit the condition too, and this inheritance of two gene markers for RCND tends to result in mortality at a much earlier age.
Because renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis in the German shepherd doesn’t tend to present with symptoms until affected dogs are five years old or older, such dogs may appear perfectly healthy prior to this and so, might already have been bred from and subsequently passed the condition on to their own offspring.
In order to prevent this from happening, German shepherd breeders can elect to have their breeding stock DNA tested for renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis prior to breeding, in order to ensure that only healthy dogs are used within breeding programmes.
To arrange a DNA test for RCND in the German shepherd, you just need to book a short consult with your vet to allow them to take a DNA sample from your dog for testing.
They will then send this off to one of the dedicated UK laboratories that can test for renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis in the German shepherd, who will in their turn test the sample and return a result on the dog’s status to their owner.