Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America

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The Special Health Bulletin that just went out generated a flood of questions. Because these are great questions, I am going to share them and not make the names of the people who are asking the questions public.  


It would be wonderful if this group would begin talking about some of this in this forum so that we can work together and hear each other's answers...learn together.


In the mean time…


Q: Are cataracts a big problem in our ISD population?


Great question.


We don't know. People are just starting to come forward. We know of 8 positive identified carriers in the United States and of offspring from those being used. We can backtrack and find other carriers or potential carriers, but more people need to start testing puppies. It's not a perfect system, but testing pups and sending in the reports to CERF so that the information is public is the best tool we have at present.


The problem is that we don't know what we don't know. Because our population is so connected, a tiny piece of information, if shared, can help a lot of people. Conversely, a tiny piece of information hidden can hurt many.


We are doing a huge tracking project right now. It is a big puzzle, but very interesting and we are learning a great deal. Breeders are coming forward, sharing information and asking questions. We are in the first stages of this learning process.


I don't believe we have a big problem at this point. However, if we don't act now, we certainly may. Iceland is sharing information with us and the other countries are helping too (some), so I have a lot of hope.


Q: Will submitting my dog’s blood to CHIC tell us if s/he is a carrier?  If s/he is only to be used a few more times, is it a mute point?

A: No, it won’t tell us if s/he is a carrier. However, the blood you submit may be key to finding the test that would determine his or her carrier status in the future.

Q: If a puppy turns up with cataracts, what are my responsibilities as a breeder?


A: Everyone will handle this in a different way. That is up to you. I know of a breeder that was just told and has not offered any help. I know of one that paid for the surgery. So, each person handles it differently. I know of one breeder that offers a two year contract that says if the dog has a disease that is identified by a qualified vet, including cataracts and HD, that breeder will replace the puppy or return the price of the puppy. There is another breeder who asks for two concurring vet opinions before considering a refund. As you can see, there are many ways to handle that and you are the only one who can determine what is best for you and your situation. 


Q: How do I choose the best breeding match for my dog?

A: The chart that Peg Johnson added to the Health Bulletin [page 10] is a fantastic tool. It lists ideal breeding, safe breeding, high risk breeding and breeding not recommended categories.


Q: What can I do to decrease the spread of cataracts?


1. Really think hard about the CHIC Program. We can win this thing if everyone does their little part. We need blood from carriers, non-carriers and affected dogs stored in the CHIC Blood Repository before we can start the research.


2. CERF test Every Litter, Every Puppy, Every Time and report the results to CERF. Maggy Pease and Shellie Greyhavens are compiling an eye data base and we will make it public very soon. Breeders cannot make good decisions without information.


3. If your dog is an identified carrier or affected, share that with the BOD and allow us to include it in the eye database so the information can be made public.


Q: If I want to share the information, do I have to do it in the chat room?


No. But please allow us to add it quietly to the public eye database so that breeders and others can utilize that information for research.


Recently an Icelandic Sheepdog breeder has confirmed with the ISAA's BOD  that the Icelandic Sheepdog has a new health concern .... White Patterned Deafness.
The Breeder voluntarily came to the BOD after discovering that one of the puppies from the last litter has bilateral deafness due to extreme White Patterning.  The puppy was BAER tested and his littermates, the dam will be tested. One fully pigmented littermate has been test with normal hearing.  Another white brother is suspected of being deaf.  The sire will be tested in the near future to rule out unilateral deafness on his part.  This is the first instance we have heard of in the ISD as to Deafness as it relates to Extreme Pieds.
   It is widely recognized in many breeds, such as Dalmatians, that when the ears are white deafness also accompanies this patterning.  This week we have learned that it can also be true in the Icelandic Sheepdog.  Pigment cells are essential for normal inner ear development residing in the stria vascularis.  In their absence the stria vascularis degenerates, cutting off the blood supply to the cochlea damaging the structure and sensory hairs needed for hearing die, resulting in deafness.
When producing a pup with either one or both white ears, we'd like to recommend BAER testing ( hearing test) to determine if the pup may be unilaterally or bi-laterally deaf.
We hope to tackle this new medical issue with the ISD in more detail in our next newsletter.  Further information is being generated concerning this condition and what we as a club and breeders need to be aware of.  Additional information, when available will be posted on this web page.

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