New DNA testing programme for Italian Spinoni

The Kennel Club has approved a new official DNA testing programme for cerebellar ataxia (CA) in Italian Spinoni, following consultation with the breed’s health co-ordinator on behalf of the breed club.

Cerebellar ataxia is a serious neurological disease, and in affected dogs the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain responsible for the co-ordination of motor movement in the body, becomes diseased. 

The DNA test offered for CA is a linkage test, which is different from the DNA tests so far recorded by the Kennel Club.

While most DNA tests identify the particular mutation at a specific gene that is shown to cause the disease, sometimes determining this can be difficult. However, because variants at genes near one another on the same chromosome are usually inherited together (i.e. are ‘linked’) it is possible, often with a considerable degree of confidence, to infer the disease-causing variant (and therefore ‘clear’/’carrier’/’affected’ disease status) from the ‘linked’ variant(s) nearby.  These ‘linkage’ tests will not be quite as accurate as tests where the actual causal variant is known, as they rely on the link between the disease-causing gene and the nearby genes being maintained – but can still be highly accurate and so, predictive.

Health conditions which have a linkage test will be either autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive and the breeding advice will remain the same as for conditions with these modes of inheritance, but breeders should be aware that these tests are not always 100 per cent accurate. Because of this, the Kennel Club cannot assign progeny as ‘hereditarily clear’ and therefore results will only be recorded for individual dogs.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Cerebellar ataxia is a very distressing, progressive condition. While this DNA testing programme for the condition is different to the DNA tests so far recorded by the Kennel Club, the programme could enable breeders to make sensible breeding decisions to eradicate this condition in Italian Spinoni so we would recommend utilising it to ensure a healthier future for this lovely breed.”

To find out which laboratories the Kennel Club is able to record results from, and which labs will send results direct to the Kennel Club, please refer to our Breeds A to Z.

The Kennel Club constantly reviews DNA testing schemes and programmes in conjunction with breed clubs to ensure that breeders are supported with resources which help them to make responsible breeding decisions. The Kennel Club works alongside breed clubs and breed health coordinators in a collaborative effort to improve the health of pedigree dogs and is happy to accommodate a club's request to add a new DNA test to its lists. A formal request from the breed's health coordinator or a majority request from the breed clubs is normally required to do this.

Test results will be added to the dog’s registration details which will trigger the publication of the result in the next available Breed Records Supplement. The result will appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog, and also on the Health Test Results Finder on the Kennel Club website.  Results for dogs already tested can also be recorded, but owners will need to submit copies of the DNA certificates themselves.

If the owner includes the original registration certificate for the dog (not a copy) then a new registration certificate will be issued, with the DNA result on it, free of charge.  DNA test certificates should be sent to Health and Breeder Services, The Kennel Club, Clarges Street, London, W1J 8AB or scanned and emailed to us.