Canine Cyclic Neutropenia is a stem cell disorder that occurs in collies. Puppies are usually smaller and weaker than their litter mates and by 8 to 12 weeks of age they develop clinical signs such as fever, diarrhea, joint pain, or other signs associated with eye, respiratory, or skin infections. The disorder is caused by an abnormality of the stem cells in the bone marrow, from which all blood cells are developed. The result is a cyclic fluctuation in blood cell numbers. Every 10 to 12 days the number of neutrophils drops dramatically, and then rebounds.
There is an increased susceptibility to infection corresponding to the dip in neutrophil numbers. Affected dogs are subject to severe recurring bacterial infections, primarily of the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. These dogs are also prone to bleeding episodes due to the drop in blood cells numbers. This is a serious genetic disorder. Even with the best of care, affected dogs rarely live beyond 2 or 3 years of age. Most die within the first few weeks.
The disease occurs in all gray Collies. (not related to the blue merle collie in any way) Affected puppies have a silver gray hair coat that ranges in color from very light, to darkish pewter grey, sometimes with a slight yellowing due to a mixture of light beige and light gray hair. No matter what color variation or type, all Collies have black noses EXCEPT those with gray collie syndrome. If the nose continues to come in gray, then that is pathognomonic (absolutely diagnostic) for “gray collie syndrome”. Sable “gray collie syndrome” dogs have brown or pale sable noses, but never black noses as they should have.
You will be able to pick out the one dark gray puppy in this litter, as well as the lighter gray. The darker appears to be a Tri-colored Gray Collie. He is a different hue from the rest of the babies. As you can see, this can usually be identified at birth.
Here you can pick out the abnormal Gray puppy, even though there are several Blue Merles with it.
As well as the nose pigment, another sure sign is the lack of complete tan markings on the face. A normal Blue Merle or Tri will have typical tan markings on the face.
If you have a carrier, your dog will be perfectly healthy in every respect and you should not fear for him. BUT if you bred to another dog that carries this same gene, you not only run the risk of producing an Affected Gray puppy, you will be sure to produce other carriers.
We now have another tool to use when planning our breedings. GCS is not long gone as many breeders think it is. It’s alive and kicking butt in many of today’s major breeding kennels. Where did it come from? It came from everywhere in the beginning. Many breeders had to test breed and eliminate the known producers while they continued to use siblings that were carriers without even knowing it.
Are they at fault? Yes and No. They did the best with what they had, but they had no test and they only had half the information on the mode of inheritance. We are living in a different age now. We have DNA markers that tell us exactly where we stand with our breeding dogs. Useful information that will take us even further that we ever thought possible in the continued battle against genetic problems. What can we do now? We can test and going forward, clear our lines of this lethal gene.
Does this mean that no carrier should ever be bred? No, that’s not what we are saying. There are many magnificent show dogs that excel in qualities that signify what a Collie Should be. We can’t limit the gene pool from these great dogs. What we can do is take a non-carrier to this dog, select the resulting get carefully and test the ones that carry on those virtues. You can then use the non-carriers back into the breeding program. All those not kept should be spayed/neutered and placed in good companion homes. Remember, the carriers themselves are perfectly healthy.
However; now that OFA has added GCS to their data base, we should be able to find similar dogs that do not carry this gene and just be done with it. As for me personally, I’ve spent over a thousand dollars testing all my breeding dogs and I’ll never again have to breed without knowing the status of the partners. As long as I am careful in my selection of partners, breeding non-carriers or carriers as signified by the DNA status, I should never have to worry about producing a Gray. Of course the best solution is to only breed those dogs that are clear. I would rather spend the money once and start with cleared breeding dogs, than to continue to worry about this generation after generation. All our puppies and adults offered for breeding are from DNA-non carrier dogs.
Visit HealthGene and get the whole story on the mode of inheritence and the testing that they offer.