Fucosidosis is a devastating and fatal disease.  It is an inherited condition found in English Springer spaniels and causes rapid deterioration in the affected animal's nervous system.   To be affected a dog must have two copies of the gene, one inherited from each parent.   A dog with only one copy of the affected gene will be a 'carrier' with the potential to pass the disease on to its offspring.  Affected dogs will normally begin to show symptoms at a young age and die within a few weeks.   Fucosidosis is rare in the UK at the moment,  but that could all change.   Gundog breeder and trainer Christine Bridgwater explains why gundog breeders should give some serious thought to the DNA test now available.

Christine Bridgwater takes a look at fucosidosis and the DNA test

If you look at the list of fucosidosis carriers on the Kennel Club website:  http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/1144… there is ONLY ONE. But that one animal has an excellent pedigree…. I have done my homework.  It’s sire is by FTCh Clarburgh Art ex a Moonreed bitch.  Its dam is by a Birdrowe dog and the dam’s bitch line has Larford on one side and Rytex on the other.  I think you will agree that that covers a fair bit of the UK’s top names in Field Trial breeding?  

So…. Let’s assume that the Animal Health Trust can screen DNA properly. Let’s assume that the dog in question was double checked? [When I worked in laboratories to get something unusual was big news… except for the poor soul the sample came from so your results were always checked again].  Let’s assume that the animal really IS a carrier.

In the past I have always believed that, due to the statistics available at the time, DNA testing for Fucosidosis was pointless. Statistics still indicate that NO dog in the UK has ever died of the disease. But as it is such a rare condition would many people have identified it?

In our case, if this terrible condition gets a grip in this country when we do have the ability to stop it dead in it’s tracks we will only have ourselves to blame. It is a VERY RARE genetic occurrence and I’m sorry if I appear to be scaremongering but - I do take all health issues seriously.  

MRD in ESS is rife but, thank goodness, is usually only slight and so no-one seems to worry about it much. I think we should not be quite so blasé about Fucosidosis.. With the docking difficulties I believe fewer pups are going to be produced so fewer “popular” animals are going to be used. We could end up with a very serious problem.

Another one-off £50 for the DNA test isn’t much in the great scheme of things???