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

Have we piqued your interest? Do you want to help us eradicate this disease from the Belgian gene pool? Well here are some answers to common questions.

Okay, I want to participate - Now What?

Contact UCDavis and let them know you would like to participate in the study, either by:

Anita M. Oberbauer, Ph.D. Associate Professor
Department of Animal Science
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

Once you have contacted UCDavis, they will send out as many collection kits as you request. You will need one kit per dog tested.

What is in a kit?

Each kit contains instructions for collecting canine buccal cells, 3 swabs for the collection, and a postage paid return envelope.

What if I want to be anonymous?

The strictly confidential email address

No individual dog will be identified nor will any individual owner receive information pertaining to a particular dog. This is a *research* study designed to identify a genetic marker associated with seizuring activity; we are not testing dogs to tell whether you should breed your dog or not or whether your dog will develop epilepsy.

What do I have to do to my dog?

1 If your dog has been eating or drinking, wait at least 10-15 minutes before performing this test.
2 Sample one dog at a time. If you are sampling several dogs in the same session, complete the process for one dog before beginning to sample the next dog.
3 Use all three histobrushes for each dog. Label each of the three brushes with the name of the dog sampled and the date of the collection.
4 The brushes are stored individually in paper wrappers. Tear ff the top of the wrapper and remove the brush by its handle.
5 Place the bristle head of the histobrush against the inside of the cheek and swirl it around 10 times. Please be vigorous, as these are the only samples we will have for the dogs. Please take each sample from a different location on the cheek.
6 Carefully return each histobrush to its original envelope, holding the envelope open so that the bristles on the brush do not spray.
7 Fold the open end of the paper wrapper and seal this end with a paperclip or a staple. Do NOT tape shut or place the samples in a zip-lock bag.
8 Return all the samples (each marked with the dog's name) and the form you are sent by regualr mail in the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope that comes with each kit.

Will this cause my dog any pain?

This is not painful to the dog, the bristles of the brush are not hard. Once your dog realizes what you are trying to do, most are very accepting of this procedure.

Does this cost anything?

This does not cost you anything except your time. An addressed, postage-paid envelope is sent to you with the swabs to facilitate the return.

Do you need a pedigree?

On the back of the instruction sheet is a form for you to complete. This form asks for basic information, such as your name and address, the name of the dog, his date of birth, any history or veterinary documentation of seizures can be attached, any knowledge of seizuring relatives should be included, a photocopy of your dog's pedigree is requested - but at a minimum you can provide the sire and dam. Any other information or background is appreciated.

Do you need family history?

If you know of siblings that have had any seizure activity or parents of your dog, please include as much detail as possible.

Do you only want dogs that come from seizuring backgrounds?

We need DNA from families of Belgian Tervuren known to be affected by seizures, not just dogs that are classified as epileptic.

What is the definition of a family?

  •  dog or bitch known to pass on seizuring activity
  • offspring from these dogs or bitches
  • dogs and bitches these dogs were bred to (even if the breeding did not produce any seizuring offspring)
  • parents of either the dog or bitch
  • siblings of either the dog or bitch
  • repeat breedings of dogs or bitches that have produced seizures, even if no seizures were produced by the repeat breeding dogs or bitches

 We need to know the seizuring status of dogs submitted and also, the parents and offspring (as well as can be defined). The seizuring documentation is critical to assign phenotype. Veterinary records substantiating seizures are great.

This study is not limited to dogs within the United States. We encourage breeders from Canada and Europe to contribute to the studies with families afflicted with this genetic disorder. This disease is not limited to Tervuren population in the USA.

Any and all samples from Tervuren or Groenendael are desired, affected and unaffected dogs alike.

What about if I don't know about my dog's background?

Fill out the family history to the best of your knowledge.

When will I find out the results?

Results will not be returned on specific dogs. However, if you are interested in the outcome of the study, there is an area on the form for you to check off. Study data will be sent to you once it is compiled.

When will the study end?

The AKC grant is for a two year study. This is an ongoing study and samples will be accepted at any time, but to provide the greatest chance for a breakthrough in this study as many samples as soon as they can be received will be appreciated. There is no endpoint to sending in samples. People should request kits and send them in whenever they have the chance.

Is this only for Tervuren and Sheepdogs?

Malinois and Laekenois are not being excluded, but the sheer numbers of Tervuren and Groenendael available combined with the pedigree evidence that we have, suggests that identifying a marker in those two Belgians will be an easier starting point. A marker effective for Groenendael and Tervuren will likely pertain to Malinois and Laekenois, and potentially other breeds as well.

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