2000 HEALTH SURVEY REPORT
HEALTH AND GENETICS REPORT
September 26, 2000
ALL HER WHITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS
AND ALL THEIR BEST FRIENDS
Health and Genetics Chair
American White Shepherd Association
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge Dr. George Padgett for his devotion and commitment to helping to prevent serious genetic diseases
in dogs. Without Dr. Padgett there would be no survey and no possibility of making the kind of progress we can make in our quest to breed
healthy White Shepherds. His book is written in a style that most dog breeders and pet owners can understand. It includes a step-by-step
method to help breed clubs improve the health of their breeds. Dr. Padgett made himself available every step of the way, beginning with doing
our first seminar at the 1999 AWSA National right through conducting our Results Seminar on September 26, 2000. From all of us and all of our
White Shepherd friends, we thank you Dr. Padgett!
Next I want to acknowledge Joanne Chanyi for she is someone I highly respect. She has been breeding White Shepherds for over 30 years.
When I approached her with my idea to do a survey, she immediately began offering support and encouragement. I would not have had the
confidence to proceed without her help. I'm not a breeder. I have no first-hand knowledge or hands-on experience. My only qualification is that
I love these dogs, adore Kyra, and I understood enough of Dr. Padgett's book to know a good idea when I see it.
Denise Mencke took the time out of her busy life to run all 1000 plus copies of the survey (5 pages, run off on both sides, with colored paper)
and delivered them to me at a meeting we were attending earlier this year. Thank you Denise for this much-needed help. And thank you Karen
and Phil for your kind offer to take on this job if needed.
The initial mailing was going to 1,000 people and that's a lot of envelopes to stuff, stamp, and mail. Pam and Michelle Koons spent a day with
me getting the first large mailing ready to go. They even delivered them to the Post Office. Joanne Chanyi and Lynda Proulx took
approximately 200 copies of the survey and mailed them in Canada. The White Shepherd Club of Canada funded this. Thank you.
Then, when the deadline date for returning the survey came and went, we had only about 427 surveys of the minimum 650 required. This is
when Ronda Beaupre took up the challenge. She told me she was going to do a mailing to her puppy buyers and asked me if I could provide
her with the survey material. Could I? You bet! Ronda did the mailing and had her puppy buyers return the surveys directly to me. Thanks to
this extra effort on Ronda's part, I added more dogs to our slowly growing count.
Many of you jumped on board to provide me with telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, suggestions and encouragement. I'm almost afraid to
mention names in case I forget someone, but I'll do my best. Thanks to Mark Echterling, Heather MacLeod (she put the survey on the WSCC
Website), Trudy Scofield, Jacki Wheeler-Stroud, Christina Tanner, Denise Mencke, Diana Updike, Joanne Chanyi, Marion Lopizzio,
Susan Ewart, Karen Sayers, Chris Eggenberger, Debbie Martin, and all of you I talked to by phone who gave me someone else's number to call.
Finally, we hit the magic 650 number and I was ecstatic as I called Dr. Padgett. I told him, "We have 650!" He said, "Can you get any more?"
More? How? I asked him how many he thought we should have. He said 1,000 sounded good. We set up a date to meet that would give me
about 3 weeks to add to the survey. Back to the drawing board – or I should say, "the telephone." Normally, I spend very little time on the
telephone. Well, I began spending such a large amount of time on the phone that my chiropractor asked me what I was doing to my neck and
shoulder. She gave me a puzzled look when I replied that, "I'm doing a genetics survey for our White Shepherds and spending a lot of time on
the phone." She suggested I change chairs and move the phone to the other side of the desk. Why didn't I think of that?
When I met with Dr. Padgett for the first time after completing the survey, we had 902 dogs. As it happened, there were a number of tasks I
needed to complete before Dr. Padgett would require the final documents. So, each time I went back for another meeting, I'd have more dogs
entered in the survey. A few days before our last meeting, I was still almost 50 dogs short of the desired target of 1,000 dogs when Jean Reeves
decided she would do a Retroactive Test Mating for her boy, Angus. He and Royal Princess Clover had produced a number of puppies. Jean
called all of those puppy buyers and since she was on a roll and knew I was looking at other "eligible males," for Kyra, she did Retroactive Test
Matings for a couple of others too. With the calls Jean made, and the surveys returned via e-mail or telephone, we now had 1,000 dogs.
(And would you believe they are still trickling in!)
Finally, I acknowledge EVERYONE who took the time to complete the survey and return it to either Sue Martin or to me. Thanks to Sue Martin
of the Scottish Terrier Club of America for allowing the first batch of surveys to be returned to her home and thereby maintain anonymity.
And to my husband, Dick, whose on-going support is obvious to everyone who knows him and who would sing out as he came in the door
from the Post Office, "You've got surveys."
EXPLANATION OF THE SURVEY RESULTS CHART
We have 1,000 dogs in our survey. Approximately 34% of these dogs came from breeders; the remaining 66% came from pet owners. Of the
1,000 dogs, 40% (401 dogs) were affected with one or more of the 57 Genetic Defects listed on the chart; conversely 60% (599 dogs) were
unaffected. All of the genetic traits listed on the chart were reported in at least one dog. Remember that in Dr. Padgett's book, "The Control of
Canine Genetic Disease," he listed 138 diseases for the German Shepherd Dog. So, while 57 diseases for our dogs may seem like a lot, it falls
way short of 138.
An important number to remember is 7.1! This represents the average number of defects carried in each of our dogs. Does this surprise
anyone? What this means is that whether you know it or not, your beautiful dog carries the genes to pass along, on an average of 7.1 different
genetic defects to its offspring. Dr. Padgett's work and the results of this survey will help you to identify these traits and breed healthier dogs.
Explanation of Columns
The first column is the number of dogs reported with "diagnosed genetic conditions." If there was doubt that a vet diagnosed the condition,
it couldn't be included. There were many other conditions affecting our dogs that are not genetic and, therefore, are not included in this chart
(see the list later in this report).
The second column is the Mode of Inheritance. "Und" means undetermined. "R" means it is a recessive trait.
'Poly' means Polygenic (more than one gene is involved), "D" means dominant and the one with a "?" indicates there is still uncertainty about
the mode of inheritance.
The third column indicates the % of dogs affected with the disease per 100 dogs. For example 1.0 signifies 1 in 100 dogs is affected with the
The fourth column is the one you will want to learn to use and become very familiar with. This column was figured by using the Hardy-
Weinberg Law. Based on this law, a formula was used to determine a guesstimate of carrier frequency in our general population of White
Shepherds. One way to interpret the meaning of this column is to understand that if you randomly pick a dog for your bitch, this column
indicates the risk that the dog you pick will be a carrier of a particular disease. For example, the risk for Esophageal Hypomobility in the
general population of White Shepherds is 6.2%. If you have picked a mate that you know based on your research is "clear" for that disease,
you reduce the risk to zero.
Following the chart is a page entitled "Using the Genetic Trait Worksheet." I put this together when I was trying to find the best mate for Kyra.
Dr. Padgett thought the worksheet was helpful and so I decided to include it with the report. I've included a blank one you can copy and one
with an example of a hypothetical pair of dogs: "Beauty and the Beast." I've also included the chart from Dr. Padgett's book (with his
permission, of course) that shows you the risk your dog carries if it is related to an affected dog. The numbers you see next to the genetic traits
on the worksheet are derived from this chart. I strongly recommend that you buy a copy of Dr. Padgett's book so you will have all the tools at
After you have researched your bitch's pedigree and discovered, on average of 7.1 defects, you then call the prospective owner of the dog you
are considering. Obviously, after watching Dr. Padgett's video and reading this report, they will either have their list ready or be working on it.
(We hope!) Then you go to the chart listing all our WS conditions and find the carrier frequency. You write this % in the appropriate column.
It is highly likely that the two canines will not have all the diseases in common. For any disease your bitch carries that the dog does not,
the carrier risk becomes zero, less than the carrier risk for the general population. For those diseases they both carry, you need to see whether
their risk is lower than the risk of a random mate (the carrier frequency column), and or decide that the risk is one you are willing to take.
If you decide the risk is one you think you are willing to take, use the formula to determine the risk of each puppy being affected with the
disease. Then, make your decision.
If you have been a breeder who has kept records of all diseases thrown by your dogs, you are ahead of the game. If you have not, you will
have to gather records, go back through the pedigrees, call other breeders, and call puppy buyers. The good news is that you only have to do
this once and from then on, keep good records. Since we buy dogs from each other, we can help each other gather the information. The biggest
job that you have to do is go back and call every puppy buyer you can locate and find out whether your puppy is healthy or whether it is
affected with one or more genetic defects. Some are easy to pinpoint like the missing teeth, umbilical hernias, etc. Others need to have been
diagnosed by a veterinarian. There are at least a dozen more probable cases of hip dysplasia that we could not include because the dog had
not been diagnosed by a vet. Once you accumulate this data, you will have the facts you need right at your fingertips to help make good
The bottom line is that dogs have defects just like we do. We can't make good breeding decisions if we don't know what defects they carry.
We can't know what they carry unless we tell each other and/or register the diseases in an open registry like Genetic Disease Control.
We won't reduce the incidence of disease in our dogs until we make some of these changes. Information on the Genetic Disease Control
Registry follows the Worksheet.
PET OWNERS (NON BREEDERS)
I think you may find the previous information about our breed quite interesting. Since you are not a breeder, however, you may think it
doesn't really affect you -- or does it? If the information could help you in selecting your next puppy, how would it help?
It would help because you are now a more informed buyer. Any breeder who would tell you there are no genetic defects in their line would
not be telling you the truth. I don't mean they would necessarily be telling you an untruth – some of them did not have the knowledge to
determine these risks before we did this survey. How do you know this for sure? Because, as a result of this survey, we "KNOW" that each
one of our dogs carries on the average of 7.1 genetic defects. And, you would know that if your breeder selected a breeding pair that didn't
carry the SAME genetic defects, the puppy you buy from that litter is probably going to be healthy. Your breeder would even be able to tell
you the likelihood the puppy may have an Umbilical Hernia or Missing Teeth in the event both dogs did carry these defects but were
otherwise very compatible. Or, if you've had the good fortune of living with a healthy dog from a breeder you trust, you know that breeder
is a good bet to buy from again.
The breeder you want to run away from and don't go back to would be the one who tells you they have totally healthy lines and have never
had any genetic defects. It could be they don't follow-up on their dogs.
In the near future we plan to provide a list of White Shepherd Genetic conditions that you can take with you when you take your puppy to
the vet. Now that we know exactly what affects our dogs, maybe we can help take the guesswork out of a diagnosis.
AMERICAN WHITE SHEPHERD ASSOCIATION
2000 HEALTH SURVEY RESULTS CHART
TOTAL DOGS IN SURVEY: 1000
AFFECTED DOGS: 401 (40%)
UNAFFECTED DOGS: 599 (60%)
% of Dogs reported belonging to breeders: Approximately 34%
% of Dogs reported belonging to nonbreeders: Approximately 66%
The oldest dog reported in our survey period was 18 years old. The same person had a White that lived to be 21 but had died prior to the start
of the survey period.
The following is a list of problems that are not genetic in origin; therefore they are not included in the survey. If detail is wanted, feel free to
Lick sores, bacterial skin infections, nose rash, and hot spots were reported.
Anal Gland Problems
A female and three males were reported to have anal gland problems.
Three females and four males were reported with benign tumors or cysts.
Dr. Padgett points out that one out of four dogs will develop cancer – same as us. The one cancer known to be genetic and the two suspected
of being genetic are reported on our Survey Chart. Others reported were brain cancer, Hemagiopericytoma, Pancreatic, site specific cancer,
Bone Cancer, Lymphoma, Colon Cancer, Fibrosarcoma, blood vessels and spleen, Liver Cancer, spine, growths on lip, mouth, gums, nose, leg,
lung, and type unknown.
Dogs reported with ear infections, ear mites, and ear aches.
Reports of eyes that tear, epithelial folds, itchy eyes, and runny eyes.
Infection of lining of the heart reported, a couple of murmurs with no attendant problems, congestive heart failure, and heart disease
without a specific diagnosis.
A female with Small Intestinal Malabsorption reported and three with nervous stomachs.
Three dogs reported with Lyme disease
Females with bacterial infections of reproductive organs, split heats, abnormally long heat cycles, erratic seasons, pyrometria, constant yeast
infections, unable to reproduce, brittle uterus, endometriosis and fissures reported. Males with prostate problems requiring neutering.
Spinal deterioration after age 11, embolism on spine, and spinal instability reported.
Three female Stool Eaters
A female died within 48 hours of becoming ill; vets believed she had CoonHound Virus
A male cannot keep on weight
Giardia, ringworm, coccidia, Parvo and bouts with worms reported.
Sporadic vomiting, Valley Fever, kidney failure due to dehydration, internal bleeding, strangles, unhealed sore, inflamed liver, RACL,
torn meniscus, skull improperly closed, anterior cruciate ligaments torn, and hematomas reported.
Some Comments to Share from Survey Respondents:
Thank you for caring for this most beautiful and majestic breed.
Spoiled rotten but no disease diagnosed
Exceptionally healthy four year old White GSD who loves to jump, play, and try to catch squirrels
She is trim, tall and weighs 90 lbs. A real beauty. Her breeder did a great job.
No diseases have been diagnosed in any of my dogs, Thank God!
My White Shepherd is very sweet, loving, and intelligent.
This is the healthiest dog I have ever owned (5 years old).
I love the White Shepherd nature. I have had 4 in total.
Thank you for doing this survey -- 32 years W.S.
All of my dogs are very healthy.
Also owned two other females who lived to be 14 & 16 years old. Neither had diseases…during their life.
Greatest dog I have ever been blessed with.
My dog will be 6 years old June 2. He is 29 inches, weighs 85 pounds, and plays Frisbee 2X a day.
He is gorgeous and healthy. We are very fortunate.
My dog has been very healthy (thank God).
Thankfully our love is a very healthy, happy loving dog and loves to play with other dogs.
No problems. She is a sweet lady – thanks.
No G.D. diagnosed. We own a happy, healthy (Frisbee fanatic white shepherd).
My shepherd is more human than animal. He is a pride to his lineage. I love him with all my heart.
My dog is beautiful and healthy. She is very loving and protective and unbelievably intelligent.
I have had dogs all my life and he is one of a kind.
Very healthy, slightly nervous, otherwise an excellent pet. We will always own a White Shepherd.
Other than seasonal allergies the healthiest dog I have ever owned.
My 10-year-old wonderful dog is the healthiest dog I have ever owned.
Thank God I have a very healthy dog. She is my pal, companion and my protector and I love her.
Extremely healthy dog. Thanks for doing this survey. The best breed in the world.
NERVOUS – FEARFUL – SHY – TIMID
In his book, Dr. Padgett lists three categories under Behavioral Diseases. According to his sources, the GSD has a pre-disposition
to one of them. That one is Aggression, which is defined as extremely assertive or forceful with other dogs and people, may attack
without reasonable provocation. Sixteen dogs in our survey were reported to be aggressive (some just dog aggressive) and included
in this category in the survey.
Some of our breeders feel that the timid or soft dog is another category of behavior that may also be genetic in origin. Since this was
not a trait determined to be genetic for the GSD by Dr. Padgett's sources, we could not include it in our survey. Even though this
category could not be included on the list of Genetic Traits of the White Shepherd, I included a category of Nervous/Fearful so we
could at least see what kind of responses we'd get. This category was checked off 75 times but often with qualifying remarks. "My
dog is only fearful at first; he is fine once he gets used to you," "he's always been shy" and other similar remarks. Most of this is
extremely subjective as opposed to a somewhat easier task of identifying an aggressive dog.
The 75 dogs reported in the Nervous/Fearful category indicates that 7.5% of our dogs have this trait (described a number of ways by
people). If this is, in fact, a genetic trait, we have a carrier rate of 39.4%. If, after we as a Club discuss the Genetic Defects and feel we
have a problem, we need to decide together how to approach it and reduce the number of affected dogs. This could be one of those
traits that might be worthwhile to pinpoint on a geneticists pedigree to see where it occurs and from which lines of dogs.
Some questions we need to ask are: Were they properly socialized? Some of the timid or soft dogs from pet owners may, in fact, be a
result of poor socialization. But we don't know that. On the other hand, if a very young puppy showed shy/timid/fearful/nervous
behavior, could this be genetic in origin? Do we expect kennel dogs to exhibit shy, fearful behavior – or only certain lines from
certain parents? Do the same questions apply to the aggressive dogs? Were the aggressive dogs born this way or made this way?
RISK OF BEING A CARRIER IF RELATED TO AN AFFECTED DOG
(AUTOSOMAL RECESSIVE TRAIT)*
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