New DNA testing scheme for Beagles

The Kennel Club has approved a new official DNA testing scheme for Lafora’s disease in Beagles, following consultation with the Health Coordinator for the breed.

Lafora’s disease is an inherited condition that causes effects similar to epilepsy. Affected dogs usually begin to show signs at around five to seven years of age, and the condition may progress slowly over many years.  Initially affected dogs show signs of shuddering or jerking, which may be triggered by loud noises, flickering lights or sudden movements.  As the condition progresses the dog may lose control of movement and can develop blindness and dementia.

The disease is described as an autosomal recessive condition, which means that a dog must inherit two copies of an abnormal gene (one from its mother and one from its father) before its health is affected. A dog that inherits only one copy of the abnormal gene (either from its mother or its father) will have no signs of the disease, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.

Using this DNA test gives breeders the information required to avoid producing puppies that may have otherwise been affected by this condition. Knowing the genetic status of their dogs allows breeders to adapt their breeding programme and use any dog responsibly, provided that the right mate is selected.

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.

Results issued after 1st August 2018 must contain at least two forms of identification on the DNA result certificate – it will be mandatory to include the dog’s microchip or tattoo number along with either the dog’s registered name or registered number. Any test results that do not carry these identifying features will not be accepted.

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 Breeder Services, The Kennel Club, Clarges Street, London, W1J 8AB or scanned and emailed to our health results team.