Condensed from the
report Dana [Russe] compiled for all VIB’s in Oct. of 1995.
(Phone numbers have been omitted)
1) One puppy (Siskiyou) from the Captain/Star litter developed a
mobility problem at 16 months of age, he was taken to the vet and a
diagnosis was mode of spinal canal stenosis at T13-L1. Basically, the vet
felt that he had incurred an injury to his back early in life which caused
bony ossification and remodeling of the vertebra which impinged on the
spinal cord. Surgical decompression of the vertebra was undertaken. A few
days after surgery, Siskiyou was accidentally dropped and his back was
broken! If you have ANY QUESTIONS regarding this dog, you may contact his
OWNER, MRS. BEV ROTH at …
Siskiyou sired a beautiful litter of 10 pups last year. All are now 17
months of age and show NO PROBLEMS!! Back x-rays are being done, just
to verify that Siskiyou DID NOT “pass on” a “possible” genetic
Veterinarians/ Geneticists that have been consulted regarding this litter
felt that at least a percentage of progeny should be “effected” * *IF* *
there was any true genetic cause for these anomalies.
2) Captain was
bred to Lizzy- one of those puppies born 4/10/94, Cooper, went lame in the
hind-end. He was 9 months old. The veterinarian diagnosed “traumatic
fracture of the transverse process of L1 with instability and bony
proliferation of T13-L1 .” This was causing spinal cord compression and his
paraparesis. Cooper’s surgery was a modified dorsal laminectomy to stabilize
T13-L1 and relieve the compression.
Siskiyou was treated
by a national recognized surgeon--Cooper was treated at a university Both
vets determined that the dogs’ condition was the result of an injury. No ONE
was aware of the similarity between the two injuries. Please note that this
area, T13-L1, is one of the areas of the back most susceptible to injury.
Captain/Lizzy second litter whelped 1/24/95, came down with sudden paralysis
of his rear quarters and he was put to sleep. It was at this point that Tina
and Wendy decided to do some researching. A conversation with Bev and Penny
enlightened us about the similarity of the problem with Siskiyou and Cooper.
We spoke with Ellen Grandner, Lizzy’s owner who told me that Jimmy’s problem
was due to an injury. She said that all of this had been researched by her
vet before and there were no similarities between the accidents of the three
dogs. She did forward a copy of Jimmy’s report from Cornell which revealed
that extradural compression of the spinal cord at T13-L1 was identified as
the source of his paralysis. Jimmy’s diagnosis was moderate trabecular
osteoptrosis with the comment that perhaps there had been insufficient
vertebral body remodeling during growth.
* Jimmy DID NOT have a
FRACTURE or BONY GROWTH between the vertebrae.
It was further
instructed by the Cornell vet that Jimmy be neutered at six months of age
due to the “possible heritability of his vertebral anomaly”. This letter
from Cornell was dated June 27, 1995. None of the information contained in
the letter, especially the part about possible heritability, was made
available to the club, Tina, or Wendy, until I received a copy of the letter
4) Just a few
weeks ago, Jimmy’s brother Titan and sister Annie, were taken to their vets
with similar symptoms- sudden onset of paralysis or ataxia in the hind-end.
Annie had compression
at the spinal cord, the same as Jimmy. She has been put down and her body
donated to Cornell. The surgeon, neurologist and pathologist are in the
process of performing a necropsy on her- including decalcifying her
vertebrae. This process reveals the bone, layer by layer, and will indicate
the amount of calcium in her bones. We ore awaiting the results of the
necropsy.* Titan is being seen by a University veterinarian who is
conferring with the Cornell veterinarian that treated Jimmy. *UPDATE!
Unfortunately those results were inconclusive. But through the
MRI, AND FURTHER TESTING ON TITAN, Dr. McDonnell of Tufts University was
able to detect SPECIFIC **LESIONS**!! **THIS WAS WONDERFUL NEWS FOR THE
OWNERS OF THIS LINE, BECAUSE NOW WE COULD DETERMINE **IF * * A PROBLEM
EXISTED, WITHOUT WAITING FOR symptoms. Dana’s conclusion 10/95 as presented
to her by Dr Mc Donnell:
spoke with Titan’s vet, Dr. McDonnell, at some length. He advised me that
the problems these six dogs have experienced with their backs is
symptomatically related, and that there seems to be a familial
tendency which indicates a genetic involvement. He explained that what we
have is a malarticulation of the vertebrae. Apparently, the cartilage does
not fit together properly which causes instability in that area of the back
and allows too much movement which in turn causes torsion injuries and
spinal cord compression. This malarticulation is seen in Thoroughbred
horses, but these vets have not seen it in dogs before. In theory, this
disease is something like OCD, most commonly found in the elbow joints, but
which also plays a role in Wobblers Syndrome. But so far, this is just
theory and there seems to be no commonly known disease we can name that
produces the symptoms these dogs have experienced.
UPDATE (from Tina)
Although in Dana’s
article she discussed the various modes of transmission, in the event this
could reflect a “genetic” influence—We can almost assuredly eliminate the
possibility of a POLYGENETIC THRESHOLD TRAIT.
NO OTHER DOGS-
CARRYING ANY OF THESE SAME GENES (as Captain/Lizzy) WHEN INBRED/OUTCROSSED/LINEBRED
etc. - - - IN ANY OTHER COMBINATIONS HAVE SHOWN ANY SUCH PROBLEM!!
** IF you have
questions regarding the “POCA” line (Lizzy’s Dam) please call JUDY VANEMAN
has done extensive research/breeding with this line for several years!
Another theory that was investigated:
there’s always the mutant gene:
There is a very
famous Quarterhorse, “Impressive”, who was a World Champion and became a
World Champion Sire. He has 55,000 descendants of which at least 14,000 are
known to have a particular disorder called HYPP which makes the horse have
tremors, convulsions, fail down, and sometimes die. Only his descendants
have the disease, ft has not been seen anywhere else in the horse world, so
it has been termed “Impressive Syndrome”. It has taken researchers 10 years
to prove that Impressive Syndrome is a genetic disease determined by an
autosomal dominant mutant gene. This was a big deal - 55,000 horses - and it
still took 10 years and gosh knows how much money.
Even if this would turn out to be a possibility - - - there is no reason to
think that all Shilohs are “carriers” of this genetic problem. There have
been no other reported cases of back problem within the Shiloh breed except
for Captain’s progeny. Statistically speaking, a simple recessive carrier
state is almost impossible. To assume that this is a run-rampant genetic
defect of the breed would be extreme.
REPRINT OF TINA’S LETTER TO THE VIB’S WRITTEN 9/95
Dana has presented as
factually clear a case as we are able to do at this time. Unfortunately, we
do not have all of the answers yet, and may not be sure of anything definite
for years to come.
Since any slack in
control could possibly lead to major disasters down the road, we have to
take some strong precautions now:
1) Captain has been x
‘d (Breed Warning). This means that NO INBREEDING OR LINE BREEDING can be
done on him. If you have a grandson or granddaughter of his, you MUST study
the pedigree of every dog you plan to breed to, to insure that Captain does
not appear in their pedigree for at least 5 generations!! This will protect
us from the infiltration of a possible lethal gene.
2) We will continue to
monitor all of the Captain lines very closely. We presently have a total of
54 Captain grandkids on the ground with 2 more litters due soon. This will
tell us a lot over the next 12 months! If none of these approximately 70+
pups show any signs of problems, we will be able to “breathe a lot easier.
the past 14 months we HAVE been carefully monitoring this situation,
and MANY of those pups HAVE had their back’s x-rayed with NO ONE
showing ANY lesions!!
3) We will continue to
research the problem, looking into the orthopedic, neurological, genetic
nature of these symptoms as well as environmental and nutritional influence.
are doing some heavy research into possible CHEMICAL/ENVIRONMENTAL
factors that have been known to cause similar results! I have
personally requested assistance from TOP EXPERTS, in various states,
that are collecting & computerizing data for an article that I PLANNED
to publish in the next (March) Newsletter! Many lesions of the spinal
cord or VERTEBRAL COLUMN are caused by inflammatory or INFECTION AS
conditions such as BRUCELLA CANIS, CHAETES BORRELIA, CRYPTOCOCCUS, or
protozoa agents like TOXOPLASMA & NEOSPORA!
Even though we do not
have all of the answers, we have ways to protect the future of our breed
through our strict ISSR rules!! As breeders, we cannot ignore problems like
this or ‘pretend’ they are somebody else’s!! We must all unite in taking
aggressive action into researching and eliminating such “traps" from our
Our hearts go out to
those people who have been directly affected by this problem. We ARE aware
how tough it is to have a dog with a problem like this. Our responsibility
to Shiloh owners and to the breed is to work hard to identify and eliminate
ANY AND ALL problems that affect the health, temperament or beauty of the
Shiloh Shepherds. Please be aware that while we are not claiming that our
breed is now perfect - Shiloh Shepherds have historically FAR FEWER health
problems than other purebred breeds. This is because of my dedication to the
ideal of the perfect dog, which means that I have spent many years breeding
and culling - hardening my heart - to eradicate health and temperament
problems. And I will not quit!!
That’s why you can charge such high prices for your pups, because
they are not just “puppies’. They are genetically programmed for excellence,
not just for now, but for all future generations!!
We will continue to
keep you informed of any future developments, Tina.
The above letter
(except for the *UPDATES*) has been copied word for word as printed in the
VIB REPORT 10/95.
UPDATES were from December 1996.
other Shilohs have experienced this problem since, but the uproar over
it ripped apart the club in 1996-7.
Please note: Nearly
90% of the approximately 1200 pups born in the years
1997-2001 can easily
trace their heritage back to one or more of the parents of that fatal
litter! Even though accusations flew from coast to coast, it should be
obvious to all that IF those pups did have a "inheritable lethal gene"
then their offspring (Laz came from the first Captain/Lizzy litter)
would pass it on somewhere down the line. Although many litters were
actually inbred on the same lines (mostly for genetic data collection)
not one pup was ever born with the symptoms (defects) found in the
litter that managed to create such a brouhaha! Obviously there must have
been an environmental cause, that we were unable to trace, due to the
chaos that ensued.
to the panic created by such a small group of hysterical people, much
valuable "blood" was lost from the gene pool as people from coast to
coast, due to blind panic, neutered and spayed some of the finest Shiloh
representatives of their time.
Originally published in the Shiloh
Shepherd Learning Center: 2002