The Hovawart Club of Great Britain

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Posted: 26-Aug-17
Degenerative Myelopathy in Hovawarts – HCGB Committee Statement August 2017.
There has been a lot of discussion about Degenerative myelopathy recently on social media and elsewhere.
Degenerative myelopathy (DM) in dogs is a painless progressive neurological disease affecting the spinal cord, usually presenting after the age of 8, and characterised by unsteadiness, weakness of the hind limbs, which can progress to paralysis over a few months to 3 years.
It causes spinal cord lesions, and diagnosis can only be confirmed with certainty by a post-mortem.
Development of DM is thought to be related to a specific mutation in the SOD1 gene (also known as Exon2). This mutation is widespread in many breeds of dogs, including hovawarts.
Each dog will have 2 copies of the SOD1 gene. The dog could have 2 copies of an unmutated/normal gene, or one normal and one mutated/affected gene, or two mutated/affected genes. This is commonly shown as n/n (unaffected), n/DM (carrier), and DM/DM (at risk/affected), depending on the laboratory that carries out the test. It is thought that in hovawarts the percentage in the population of n/n is 50%, n/DM 40%, and DM/DM 10%.
Dogs with two normal copies of the gene are highly unlikely to develop DM, as are carriers. Even dogs with two mutated genes may not develop DM, as the gene is not completely penetrant, and the age at which a dog may develop DM may vary widely.
There is now a genetic test that will show the presence of the SOD1 mutation, available from at least 2 laboratories in the UK. This can be done by a buccal (mouth swab), or a blood test.
The HCGB Committee view is that in the presence of a readily available and relatively low cost genetic test it would be advisable for all breeders to test their dogs before breeding, and then breed with the aim of avoiding the production of dogs with a double copy of the mutated gene (DM/DM).
This would mean that carriers and affected dogs could still be used for breeding if they are bred to a dog with a clear result.
The committee specifically does not recommend breeding only with clear (n/n) dogs. To do so would reduce the gene pool unacceptably, and increase the risk of other genetic diseases which may be even more devastating becoming more prevalent. The hovawart gene pool, especially in the UK, is already small, and other health factors such as hip dysplasia and thyroid function should also be taken into account when breeding.
With this in mind the committee will bring a proposal to the AGM in 2018 for approval by the members to add this to the HCGB Code of Ethics.
References:
1. Breed Distribution of SOD1 Alleles Previously Associated with Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, R. Zeng, J.R. Coates, G.C. Johnson, L. Hansen, T. Awano, A. Kolicheski, E. Ivansson, M. Perloski,K. Lindblad-Toh, D.P. O’Brien, J. Guo, M.L. Katz, and G.S. Johnson. J Vet Intern Med 2014;28:515–521
2. http://www.animalgenetics.eu/Canine/Canine-disease/canine-dm-degenerative-myelopathy.html
3. http://www.laboklin.co.uk/laboklin/showGeneticTest.jsp?testID=8158D
Posted: 11-Aug-17
Tobias Trophy
After 13 qualifying shows, the hovawart with the most points is Gina’s Isalynn Elderen’s Hof with 8, closely followed, one point behind, by Ellen & Thomas’ Zwartbos Arreton and Elaine& John’s Pines Acorn. Surprisingly, all three are bitches. The three leading dogs, one further point back, are Julie’s Zwartbos Carisbroke, Janice & Dave’s Zwartbos Moonshine Whiskey and Mark’s Pines Wiggins.
As can be seen, with a maximum 5 points on offer at the best attended shows, there is still a lot to play for, and it is anybody’s race, so watch this space !