This article is from the Genetic Diseases in Dogs FAQ, by Gary Mason.
This paper is the first product of an effort I have undertaken that
was prompted by the discovery that our five month old Scottish Terrier
suffered from Type III von Willebrand's Disease (vWD). The existence
of this genetic bleeding disorder was unknown to us until he suffered
a near fatal bleeding episode for no apparent reason. Subsequent
treatment and testing revealed that he was affected with vWD.
We were quite naive - as I suspect many people are - when we bought
our dog. Both of his parents were AKC registered, which we assumed
meant that he was a healthy dog from healthy stock. In fact, prior to
discovering his affliction, he too was registered (though we could
have registered him even after discovering his malady). We have
learned the hard way that "having papers" means very little, if
anything, about the genetic health of a purebred dog.
This experience convinced us that dogs, and those who own them, should
not have to live under the conditions dictated by genetic diseases.
This is especially true since in the main they could be prevented. Our
dog's disease has generated a lot of additional expense and worry
which might have been avoided by a properly designed and managed
breeding program. It has also become clear to us that prospective
buyers should be better educated about the world of dogs before they
make an investment that could lead to considerable extra expense, and
worse, the heartbreak of losing a beloved friend too early.
This effort has no funding or sponsorship from any organization or
other individuals. We neither breed nor show dogs, and have no plans
to do so in the future. This is a personal attempt to contribute to
the identification of, the development of tests for, and the progress
of efforts toward the eradication of genetic diseases in dogs.
This article is intended to be an objective exposition on the subject
of genetic diseases in domestic dogs. It is of the utmost importance
that the information presented be as neutral as possible so as to
encourage all interested parties to engage in productive dialog. No
attempt will be made to attach any measure of goodness or
acceptability to one view of an issue over another. It is hoped that
this approach will enable synergies to be created by joint activity
among and between parties interested in improving canine genetic
While no one is intentionally being eliminated from the target
audience, the specific constituencies being addressed are breeders,
breed clubs, dog registration organizations, prospective dog
purchasers, researchers, and veterinarians.