Recognized by the AKC as a
BREEDER OF MERIT
Greyhound Health Issues and Genetic Testing~
Our goal at WINDROCK is to produce greyhounds that are a true credit to the breed and to help us reach that,our greyhounds are tested for genetically transmitted diseases. Health testing is a critical component of a responsible breeding program. There is absolutely no good reason for a breeder of dogs not to make use of available health tests--unless of course, it cuts into their "profit margin."
History has revealed time and time again, that there is no line of dogs, cats, horses, etc., free of genetic problems. We as Homo Sapiens suffer from a tremendous variety of inherited ills. Research and responsible breeding has firmly proven that the occurrence of health issues in dogs can be clearly decreased by careful and discerning breeding.
Before a mating is carried out at WINDROCK, a lot of time goes into researching pedigrees, but that is only a small part of it. The proposed parents themselves have to pass rigorous consideration and have proven themselves on the field and/or in the show ring. If possible, they are fully mature (4-6 years) when first bred. Furthermore, breeding stock must be of sound temperament and intelligence as well as being superior representatives with proven show and/or performance records.
WINDROCK aspires to raise healthy puppies that are easy to live with and be just right for families of all kinds. We feel it is important to diversify the small show greyhound gene pool as much as possible by integrating new bloodlines. To that end, WINDROCK has imported several superior foreign greyhounds and sought out the best of carefully health screened coursing and racing lines.
Comparatively speaking, the Greyhound is one of the healthiest of dog breeds and we can thank the Greyhound racing industry for the thousands of dollars of research that has gone into identifying and treatment of medical conditions.
The handsome blue brindle gentleman pictured here on the left is 13 years young and is still climbing mountains. He is a son of our beloved "Bubba", the late great BIS/SBIS Ch Shazam's The Journey Begins JC!
Good genes and great care by owners have resulted in some WINDROCK bred greyhounds reaching advanced ages of 14-16 years, a very good lifespan for a large dog!
The Grim Reaper can come much earlier to Greyhounds HBC (Hit By Car) is a leading cause of death, as are certain kinds of cancers.
WINDROCK Inc greyhounds are very selectively bred~we aspire to breed only superior specimens-- outstanding individuals with proven records of performance
Our breeding stock is usually Champion or Performance titled--individuals with proven records of accomplishment and documented records of health.
Breeding stock is health tested (OFA/CERF, etc) and DNA profiling is done to ensure bloodline integrity. We also test for the newest threat~Neuropathy.
Our Grandma Whisper is shown here accompanying us on a hunting excursion.
Even as a elder dog, she is spry and active.
She tracked and found two deer that hunters had wounded and lost.
Amazing considering Whisper was 14 plus years at the time!
Her excellent condition and health is attributed to good genes and proper care. Whisper passed on just short of 16 years of age. We miss her very much.
Each breed has certain health screenings that have been identified to be beneficial for improving the health the breed. The following are health screenings that SHOULD performed on Greyhounds BEFORE mating.
Health screenings on individual dogs can be viewed on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). database at: www.offa.org
Greyhound Hereditary Neuropathy http://www.genetics.unibe.ch/content/e2353/e2982/index_eng.html
At the very least you should expect that the sire and dam of your Greyhound puppy should be tested for Heart, Thyroid (OFA) eye defects, (CERF) and Neuropathy.
Many breeders strive to obtain CHIC # on their breeding dogs. CHIC means Canine Health Information Center which is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by AKC/CHF (Canine Health Foundation) and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/The Greyhound Club of America is in formative stages of developing a CHIC program, thanks to the efforts of prominent Greyhound breeders Bill Hemple (former President of the GCA) and his wife Shelly Hemple DVM At this time, heart testing is the sole recommendation indicated for greyhounds by CHIC.
Greyhound Health Issues
Here are a few links to health information about show and racing Greyhounds.
- Letter from Dr. Lynda Blythe DVM PhD, co-author, Care of the Racing Greyhound
- Three Fatal Diseases in Show Greyhounds by Patricia Gail Burnham [GCA Newsletter, 2002]
- Canine Hypothyroidism: Prevalence of Positive TgAA in 503 Laboratory Samples from Greyhounds by Ray Nachreiner et al.
- Correlation of Racing and Reproductive Performance in Greyhounds with Response to Thyroid Function Testing by Karin M. Beale et al. [Jl. of the American Animal Hospital Assn., 1992]
- More information on hematological characteristics of Greyhounds by W. Jean Dodds [JAVMA, 1995]
- Thyroid Hormone and Testosterone Concentrations in Racing Greyhounds with and without Bald Thigh Syndrome by LA Cowan et al [ACVIM abstract only]
- Greyhound Health Registry Proposal by Helen Hamilton DVM (GCA Newsletter)
- Renal Disease I (March 1991 GCA Newsletter)
- Renal Disease II (June 1991 GCA Newsletter)
- Renal Disease III (September 1991 GCA Newsletter)
Well -bred Greyhounds can live into late teens if they are twice blessed with good genes and proper care. Please acquire your Greyhound from a Breeder who does health screening and talks candidly about health problems.
When your veterinarian sends your Greyhound's blood to a lab she/he is most commonly asking the lab to run a CBC (Complete Blood Count). This common analysis covers these items:
- RBC = Red Blood Cells
- Hgb = Hemoglobin
- PCV / HCT = Packed Cell Volume/Hematocrit
- WBC = White Blood Cells
- Platelets = Help to form blood clots to stop bleeding.
For a more in-depth look, usually to determine kidney/liver functions, your veterinarian may also ask for a "Chem Panel". This will give them information about:
- T.P. = Total Protein Globulin
- Creatinine = A waste product filtered out of the blood by the kidneys.
- T4 = Thyroid level
If you don't understand what your veterinarian has ordered, ask for details!Greyhound blood work has enough differences from "other dog" blood work to sometimes make it deceivingly "normal" or "abnormal" if your veterinarian isn't familiar with these differences. The salient differences are discussed below.
- RBC: 7.4 - 9.0
- Hgb: 19.0 - 21.5
- PCV: 55 - 65
- RBC: 5.5 - 8.5
- Hgb: 12.0 - 18.0
- PCV: 37 - 55
Greyhounds have significantly more red blood cells than other dog breeds. This elevates parameters for RBC, Hgb (hemoglobin), and PCV/HCT, and is the reason Greyhounds are so desirable as blood donors. Most veterinarians are aware of this difference.
Never accept a diagnosis of Polycythemia—a once-in-a-lifetime rare diagnosis of pathologic red blood cell overproduction—in a Greyhound.
Conversely, never interpret a Greyhound PCV in the 30s - 40s as being normal just because it is for other dogs. A Greyhound with a PCV in the 30s - 40s is an anemic Greyhound. Generally, a Greyhound PCV less than 50 is a red flag to check for Ehrlichia.
- Greyhound: 3.5 - 6.5
- Other dog: 6.0 - 17.0
Other Greyhound CBC changes are less well known. The Greyhound's normally low WBC has caused more than one healthy Greyhound to undergo a bone marrow biopsy in search of "cancer" or some other cause of the "low WBC."
- Greyhound: 80,000 - 200,000
- Other dog: 150,000 - 400,000
Likewise, Greyhound platelet numbers are lower on average than other dog breeds, which might be mistakenly interpreted as a problem. It is thought that Greyhound WBCs, platelets, and total protein may be lower to physiologically "make room" in the bloodstream for the increased red cell load.
Compounding these normally low WBC and platelet numbers is the fact that Ehrlichia, a common blood parasite of Greyhounds, can lower WBC and platelet counts. So if there is any doubt as to whether the WBC / platelet counts are normal, an Ehrlichia titer is always in order. The other classic changes with Ehrlichia are lowered PCV and elevated total protein. But bear in mind that every Greyhound will not have every change, and Ehrlichia Greyhounds can have normal CBCs.
T.P. & Globulin
- Greyhound TP: 4.5 - 6.0
- Other dog TP: 5.4 - 7.8
- Greyhound Globulin: 2.1 - 3.2
- Other dog Globulin: 2.8 - 4.2
Greyhound total proteins tend to run on the low end of normal—T.P.s in the 5.0s and 6.0s are the norm. While the albumin fraction of T.P. is the same as other dogs, the globulin component is lower.
- Greyhound: 0.8 - 1.6
- Other dogs: 0.0 - 1.0
Greyhound creatinines run higher than other breeds as a function of their large lean muscle mass. A study at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine found that 80% of retired racing Greyhounds they sampled had creatinine values above the standard reference range for "other dogs". As a lone finding, an "elevated creatinine" is not indicative of impending kidney failure. If the BUN and urinalysis are normal, so is the "elevated" creatinine.
- Greyhound: 0.5 - 3.6 (mean 1.47 +/- 0.63)
- Other dogs: 1.52 - 3.60
These figures are from a University of Florida study of thyroid function in 221 Greyhounds—97 racers, 99 broods, and 25 studs—so it included both racers and "retired." While Greyhound thyroid levels are a whole chapter unto themselves, a good rule of thumb is that Greyhound T4s run about half that of other breeds.
And lastly, the good news—Greyhound urinalysis levels are the same as other dog breeds. It is normal for males to have small to moderate amounts of bilirubin in the urine.
Within the last years, a few kennels throughout Europe reported on the sporadic birth of puppies, who suddenly developed abnormal gait and progressive muscle atrophy from an age of around 3 months on. First, breeders and owners assumed that they had to deal with singular cases, but soon it turned out to be a common new problem, a new Greyhound disease, not yet described in scientific literature.
Usually, first signs of the disease occur at an age of 3-4 months. Affected puppies quite suddenly show an abnormal gait with arched back and rear weakness, which may suppose an injury in loin. Within a few days or weeks, condition gets worse, the puppies visibly loose muscle and hardly can walk or run for more than 200-300 meters. Even just a few steps lead to fatigue, puppies are no more able to fully stretch the knee joints. They show a strange, "bunny-like" hopping gallop with turned-out knees, later on they collapse and cannot walk anymore. After a few minutes of recreation, they recover strength and can continue walking for another short distance.
In addition to the abnormal gait, neurologic deficits come to the fore of the pathogenesis. The spinal reflexes are highly decelerated resp. totally absent, especially the patellar tendon reflex. In contrast, sensoric and proprioreceptive functions are usually not affected.
With increasing age, muscle weakness is more and more progressive, the gait gets wobbling and unstable, up to the dogs cannot get up and walk without help any more. It differs from case to case which muscle groups are particularly affected. Usually shoulder and thigh, as well as temporal, back and in some animals also the laryngeal muscles are highly atrophic. The latter are standing out because they cannot bark and are sometimes dyspnoeic. Affected puppies don't show any sign of pain or disturbed well-being, they are alert and full of joie de vivre until the end. However, they only reach an age of 9 to 13 months until they have to be put to sleep because of their progressive muscle atrophy.
Differing from the symptoms described above, there are known cases with far earlier and heavier progress, which had to be euthanized in far younger age (6 to 8 weeks).
Autopsy Findings and Pathogenesis
PD Dr. Cord Drögemüller at the Institute of Genetics of the University of Bern/CH is heading several research projects about genetic diseases in dogs. He kindly agreed to include the disease Greyhound Hereditary Neuropathy in his research. More information about the Neuropathy Project you also can find on the institute's webpage .
Searching for the first common ancestor, who is doubled up in the pedigrees of all affected puppies on maternal and paternal side, we had to go back to the 1970ies. At the moment we have to assume that nearly every greyhound who has scandinavian ancestors from that time could be a carrier. Some of the famous stud dogs of the last 20 years must have carried the defect and bequeath it to a part of their offspring. Outcross matings can prevent affected puppies in a litter, but the recessive defect will not disappear - the next generation will carry the risk as well. The only way to get control is to have a possibility to find out if an animal is a carrier of the defect gene or not.
August 2009 ~Breaking news from the Greyhound Hereditary Neuropathy Project! The gene mutation has been found and a gene test for identification of the asymptomous carriers is available. See below article.
Please contact the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Berne, Switzerland:
http://www.genetics.unibe.ch/content/e2353/e2982/index_eng.html - a form for sending in the samples will be ready within the next days.
Analysis of the first samples already showed that the defect is alarmingly widespread in the Show Greyhound population - we urgently recommend testing of each breeding animal to make sure that two carriers are never mated.
Detailed information will follow soon - for the moment I want to inform all interested breeders in advance.
Best regards, Dr. Barbara Kessler
Article credit Dr Barbara Kessler of Rumford Greyhounds http://www.houndstation.de/
Greyhound Hereditary Neuropathy – How To Continue Now
At the time of writing, more than 150 blood samples of show greyhounds have been analyzed. Even if affected puppies and their parents are not counted (which are a kind of pre-selected samples who would falsify the statistics), Cord Droegemueller reported about nearly one third carriers among all tested Greyhounds. That’s a lot!
We should be well aware that the defect gene might be found nearly everywhere – in suspicious bloodlines but also in dogs where nobody would have thought to find it.
Of course, temptation is great to remove all carriers from breeding immediately, to get rid of this defect gene as soon as possible. But we shouldn’t forget that the gene pool of show bred Greyhounds is already quite limited – a further reduction would probably create new problems. GHN isn’t the only health problem in the breed, but it’s the easiest to control one, nowadays!
The challenge for us breeders now is to deal reasonably and thoughtfully with the information we get from testing our dogs. Of course it’s a great relief to see the own dogs free, but having carriers doesn’t mean a disaster at all! If they are healthy, fit and beautiful dogs who would be an important part of your breeding programme, breed them! You just have to make sure that the other parent is genetically neuropathy-free – then no single affected puppy will be born ever again. We are not breeding “neuropathy-or-not” only, we are breeding Greyhounds! Outstanding dogs or bitches, who probably have far more virtues to give, shouldn’t be reduced on the neuropathy aspect only. That shouldn’t be misunderstood as a carte blanche to breed each and every carrier, but if such a carrier is of exceptional quality and great breeding value, it could be important to leave him within the gene pool, despite of his neuropathy status.
Of course it will be the long-term goal to remove the defect gene from the population one day, but we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath by acting precipitously. Regarding the probably quite high percentage of carriers within the gene pool, it would be nearly irresponsible to remove them all from breeding at once. Reducing the percentage of carriers slowly from generation to generation, continuing testing as long as necessary is far the better way. In the end we will get rid of the gene as well – but without the risk of a dramatic limitation of the gene pool.
GHN is a terrible, fatal disease, but now it’s a problem of the past! We now have a tool to control it, and should not focus on it as the only criterium for breeding from a dog or not.
Dr. med. vet. Barbara Kessler
Chair for Molecular Animal Breeding and Biotechnology
Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich Germany