It is a relatively new severe respiratory disease that can thankfully be prevented thanks to a DNA test. Primary Ciliary Diskinesia (PCD) leads to severe respiratory issues. About 17% of Old English Sheepdogs are thought to be carriers of the gene responsible for the disease. A reliable DNA test can screen stud dogs and brood bitches, in order to adapt matings and avoid birth of affected puppies and spread of the disease in the breed.
A Severe Hereditary Disease
Ciliary Diskinesia leads to chronicle respiratory issues in the dog. The first symptoms are seen from an early age, infections of the respiratory mucosa (nose, trachea, bronchi) that result in sneezing, cough and chronic bronchitis. Even if the disease is treated early, symptoms are amplifying and the dog usually has to be euthanized.
Around 17% of Old english Sheepdogs in Europe are carriers of the genetic mutation responsible of PCD. A breeder can mate without noticing a male “carrier” and a female “carrier”and produce a litter containing affected puppies.
A “carrier” of the mutation will not develop the disease but transmits the gene to 50% of the puppies. A stud dog “carrier” of the mutation which is used a lot for breeding, quickly spreads the disease through the breed and helps to increase the frequency of the mutation and multiply the number of affected dogs.
A Preventable Disease
A puppy can be affected if his two parents are carriers of the mutation. Breeders unaware of PCD can mate stud dogs and brood bitches carriers of the mutation who are used a lot for reproduction. As a consequence, this would lead to increase the frequency of the mutation and multiply the number of affected dogs.
A DNA test called PCD test, can detect Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia of Old English Sheepdog with a reliability above 99%
The DNA Test
The vet takes a simple cheek swab and sends it to the laboratory. The result, indicates if the tested dog is clear, carrier or affected for PCD. A genetic certificate displaying the result can then be used as a guarantee for a mating or to justify the sale of puppies clear of PCD.
In 2013 the UK Kennel Club recognised the PCD test for Old English and now keeps a data base of dogs that have been tested. It is also a requirement of KC Accredited Breeders to have their dogs tested.