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von Willebrand Disease - vWD

› vWD: von Willebrand Disease

Another relatively easy test is vWD. It can avoid the heartache of an ill or dead pup . Trauma, injury or surgery can take a drastic turn for the worst if it is found out that your Sheltie has this bleeding disorder.

Not being able to clot blood normally is an emergency situation. Better to know ahead of time if this will be a problem.

There are three types of vWD. Shetland Sheepdogs happen to have the most serious of those variations.


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I doubt most people are even aware that such an illness as von Willebrand disease exists when they purchase a puppy.  Some breeders shrug and suggest that they would have realized the pup had vWD when they removed the dewclaws. The pup would bleed out and in essence, remove itself from the gene pool by dying on the spot.

I’d prefer to know what I’m dealing with beforehand and make breeding decisions based on definitive lab results.

Two Types Of Tests For von Willibrand Disease

You can test the blood for von Willebrand factor but that just gives you a snapshot of that particular day. Results can be confusing.

It is much more effective to run the DNA test to see the genetics. Then it can be determined what can be passed on to a litter of pups. If both parents are clear of a DNA test such as von Willebrand disease, then the pups are also normal. Pups do not need to be tested in that case.

If one parent or both parents are carriers, then pups need to be tested to determine if they too are carriers or affected. 

This, like many DNA tests, determines what genes a Sheltie has inherited from his or her parents. The pup can have one of several variations: Affected, Carrier, or Clear. The gene is autosomal recessive.

This means that unless there are two mutated genes, the puppy can lead a normal life.

  • Affected is if a mutated gene is inherited from each parent. This pup would express the disease and have life threatening bleeding tendencies.
  • Carrier means one normal and one mutated gene has been inherited. The puppy will be unaffected by the mutated gene.
  • Clear means two normal genes has been inherited, one from each of his parents.

You could breed two supposedly normal Shetland Sheepdogs that are really carriers and you can produce affected puppies. Maybe someone else wouldn't care, but I do.

YIKES! How Do You Know If Your Sheltie Has this Disease?

Well, first of all, the incidence is pretty low as of statistics from 2008; a little less than 10% of the population tested is affected.

I test all breeding stock is tested for von Willebrand Disease. All at present are Clear of the mutant gene. Should a canine be used that is a carrier, he or she would only be bred to a Clear mate. This would ensure that any puppy from that litter would be totally unaffected.

If you own a Sheltie that was purchased from another breeder and you want to know what your Shetland Sheepdog’s status is, you can have the von Willebrand test done yourself. It is a simple cheek swab, sent to vetGen which would tell you what you need to know.

It used to cost $140. Looks like there has been a reduction in price down to $95.

Vetary

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