The Border collie is a very popular dog breed within the UK and all across the world, where they are widely used for working-herding roles, as well as of course being kept as pets. Border collies also tend to excel at canine sports, as they have a unique combination of very high energy levels, high intelligence, a one-track minded sense of purpose, and bags of endurance.
Whilst Border collies can make for excellent family pets, they do need a great deal of exercise and mental stimulation, and it is almost impossible to tire dogs of the breed out, which can make them challenging to keep within a more sedentary domestic home.
Because the Border collie has such a long working history and because farm dogs are bred for working ability rather than for a specific appearance, the breed as a whole is one that is healthy and robust, and that does not tend to be affected by a huge range of health conditions on the whole.
However, as is the case for most well-established pedigree dog breeds in the UK, there are a number of hereditary health conditions that can be found within certain Border collie breed lines, which can lead to a reduction in the affected dogs’ quality of life and life span. Many such conditions can be DNA tested for in adult dogs, which enables their owners to tell if their dogs might develop certain specific Border collie health conditions, and/or pass them on to their own offspring.
One hereditary Border collie health condition that has a DNA test available for it is called sensory neuropathy, and this is an inherited neurological disorder that causes degeneration of the dog’s sensory and motor nerve cells.
Anyone who is considering breeding from their Border collie should consider having this DNA test performed on their parent stock prior to going ahead with a mating match, to ensure that the condition isn’t passed on to the subsequent litter.
In this article we will provide a short explanation of sensory neuropathy in the Border collie, explain the mode of heredity for the condition within dogs of the breed, and let you know how to arrange a DNA test for sensory neuropathy in the Border collie too. Read on to learn more.
Sensory neuropathy may be referred to by the shorthand SN, and it is a hereditary neurological disease that can be found in a small number of dogs of the Border collie breed.
Border collie sensory neuropathy causes a progressive degeneration of the dog’s motor nerve cells and sensory cells, which begins to present with its first symptoms in young dogs, usually aged between around two and seven months old.
The symptoms of sensory neuropathy in Border collies can be numerous and varied, and may include obsessive licking and chewing of the limbs due to the numbness and discomfort that the condition can cause, as well as knuckling of the feet too, which means that the dog turns their paws inwards and essentially walks on their knuckles.
As Border collie sensory neuropathy progresses, it results in poor coordination in dogs, and an increased loss of sensation in the dog’s limbs and tail. When the condition becomes acute, it results in incontinence and regurgitation of food, which generally means that affected dogs are euthanised in order to prevent further suffering – and the condition is rarely left to develop in dogs beyond the age of around two, as by this age it tends to be very acute.
Sensory neuropathy in the Border collie is passed on from dog to dog by means of autosomal recessive heredity. This means that if you know the status of any two parent dogs (or two dogs that you plan to breed from) you can predict the status of their eventual puppies.
It is the combination of both sides of a dog’s parentage that dictates their own status for sensory neuropathy, which means that both parent dogs’ status needs to be known before you can identify the risk factors for their litter.
Here is how sensory neuropathy is inherited within dogs of the Border collie breed:
To find out your own Border collie’s status for sensory neuropathy, you can ask your vet to book them in for an appointment at the clinic to have a DNA sample taken. This is then sent off to a laboratory that can test the sample to get the status of the tested dog, and the results of this are returned to their owners when completed.