Training and Care — Tip Of The Week
Excerpt from Our New
Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care
Tips on Aussie Genetics
Every dog carries genes that are harmless – until matched with another gene through breeding. These genes are called 'lethal equivalents.' When you breed two dogs each carrying a lethal equivalent gene, the result is puppies that will be stillborn or carry a disease that will eventually cause an early death.
A common genetic problem occurs when Australian Shepherds are bred which both have the merle coat pattern gene. This "double-merle" breeding can result in puppies with severe vision and hearing problems including blindness and deafness. More in Chapter 13 – Homozygous Merles.
As mentioned previously, when this mutation is present in an Aussie, medications such as ivermectin, which are usually helpful in a healthy dog, can become fatal. Ivermectin is used in many worming medications, so if you breed a litter of puppies with the MDR1 mutation without knowing, there's a good chance they'll all die from their first round of worming. Roughly a third of Aussies carry a copy of this gene, so it's extremely important to know if your dog is a carrier before you breed.
Again, you can determine if your dog has the gene by testing that can be carried out by your vet. You can also tell if the dog carries the gene due to reactions the dog may have had to certain medications – although, because these reactions can be so severe, you ought to get testing done as soon as possible to avoid administering your dog with drugs that could be fatal.
Next time: TBA
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