American Belgian Tervuren Club

Epilepsy Study

  • Idiopathic Epilepsy +

    Ideopathic Epilepsy is one of the genetic problems that plagues the well-being of the Belgian Tervuren. It affects nearly 30 Read More
  • Developing a Genetic Marker +

    History of the Study The following article was written by Anita M. Oberbauer, Ph.D. and originally published in the American Read More
  • Analogy for a Polygenic Trait +

    A simple poker game will be used as an analogy for the polygenic trait with a single locus of large Read More
  • Clinical and Genetic Advances +

    Inherited canine epilepsy is a major health problem in many breeds because of its high frequency and it potentially serious Read More
  • AKC Grant Information +

    Grant: Development of a Genetic Marker for Idiopathic Epilepsy in the Belgian Tervuren Principal InvestigatorCo-Principal InvestigatorsCo-Principal Investigators A.M. Oberbauer, PhD. Read More
  • Be Part of the Solution +

    Have we piqued your interest? Do you want to help us eradicate this disease from the Belgian gene pool? Well Read More
  • Glossary of Terms +

    Unfamiliar with terminology?  Check out the glossary to learn more. Read More
  • 1

Inherited canine epilepsy is a major health problem in many breeds because of its high frequency and it potentially serious effects on pet ownership and breeder reputation. A preliminary examination of published data indicate that over 20 breeds have a serious health problem with canine epilepsy.

by George J. Brewer, MD
University of Michigan Medical School

In the AKC Molecular Genetics Conference that preceded this conference, experts discussed canine epilepsy form the standpoint of separating a diagnosis, separating inherited from non-inherited epilepsy, and the sub-types of epilepsies that may indicate different genetic types: One talk was from the perspective of a breeder/breed club (Standard Poodle) and what they are doing about the problem in their breed. The pertinent information from this session will be summarized.

There is likely to be a large amount of genetic heterogeneity in canine epilepsy. By that, it is meant that several different genes are involved. The strongest reason for believing that is the demonstration, by crude mapping techniques, of seven different regions of human chromosomes that contain epilepsy genes. Genetic heterogeneity is not to be confused with polygenic inheritance, in which more than one genetic defect contributes to the presence of the disease in a single patient or animal. In epilepsy, in any one patient, or animal, the disease is likely to be due to a defect in a single gene. But in the next patient, or animal, the epilepsy may be due to a defect in an entirely different gene.

The fact that each breed is a genetic isolate gives the dog world a great advantage over the human world, where the adonexture in the population mixes up all the genetic types, making it difficult to map and isolate the gene. It is expected that the cause of epilepsy in any particular breed will be due to a single genetic defect. This provides@great advantages because pedigrees collected within a breed will be pure for a single gene causation of epilepsy. This concept is no longer theory. It is borne out by VetGen's extensive experience with canine von Willebrand's disease (VWD), which is also, genetically heterogenous. We find that within a breed VWD is due to precisely the same mutation. Using pure canine pedigrees the epilepsy gene in any breed can be mapped as the dog map unfolds, and the gene identified and cloned. Developing a DNA test to allow breed- ers to reduce the disease gene frequency then becomes a simple,.task. In turn, such newly identified canine epilepsy disease genes become candidates for being one of the undiscovered human epilepsy genes. In this way, purebred dogs can power not only canine gene discovery, but human gene discovery.

In this session we will hear from experts on canine epilepsy who will help us understand the problems of diagnosis, better understand how inherited and non-inherited epilepsies can be separated, and who will tell us what is known about the sub-types of canine epilepsies that may guide us in beginning to identify different genetic types. We will also hear about the disease from a breeder's perspective, and what one group of determined people, and a committed breed club, are doing about the problem in their breed.

In summary, there is reason to be optimistic that within the next five years, DNA tests will be available for the inherited epilepsies in many breeds.

Biographical Profile

George Brewer, M.D. earned his Bachelors Degree with highest honors from Purdue University and his M.D. with honors from the University of Chicago, where he also pursued his postdoctoral research studies. His study, of genetics was continued with an NIH research fellowship at the University of Michigan, Department of Human Genetics. He currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Biochemical 'Genetics, is Associate Editor of the American Journal of Hematology, and Editor of Progress in Clinical and Biological Research. He is currently the Chairman, of the Interdepartmental Genetics Training Program at the University of Michigan and adjunct Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Small Animal Clinic Science Department at Michigan State, and is one of the founders of VetGen, the company, offering vWD DNA testing. Dr. Brewer is also a devoted owner of Labrador Retrievers.

Health Learn More

  • Reading CERF & OFA #'s
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Anesthetic Primer
  • Thyroid and the Tervuren
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hematologic Analyses

IF a dog has an OFA number this means that the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has reviewed x-rays of the dogs hips and has found them to be clear of hip dysplasia, and assigned them a rating. OFA numbers are good for the lifetime of the dog.

Read More

PRA is a progressive disease of the retinas that leads to blindness. It is inherited, and has been diagnosed in Tervuren of a number of litters over the course of the past ten years and more, with new diagnoses made within this past year. Without a blood test, our breed faces a likelihood of increasing numbers of new cases of PRA. We are pleased to announce that we now have a wonderful opportunity before us

Read More
Having your beloved Belgian go under anesthesia can be a nerve-wracking experience. Understanding exactly what will take place and what questions to ask may help ensure your dog’s safety and your peace of mind.
Read More

The thyroid is considered a "master gland" as it is involved in so many metabolic processes in our dogs. While it may not be obvious when things are going well, if your dog becomes hypo or low thyroid, you can see a number of clinical signs.

Read More

Why is the elbow an important joint?

The dog carries about 65% of his weight on his front end. Not only do the front legs bear most of the concussion when a jumping dog lands, they also provide a good deal of the propulsion necessary to launch him into the air. The shoulder and elbow joints absorb most of the impact during movement. Those "turn on a dime" movements our Belgians are so fond of

Read More

*Objective*—To determine reference ranges for results of hematologic analyses of healthy Belgian Tervuren, to compare results of hematologic analyses for healthy Belgian Tervuren with results for healthy dogs of other breeds, and to determine prevalence of physiologic leukopenia in Belgian Tervuren.

Read More