Skye Health and DNA Swabbing

Because of current technological advances it’s now possible to address health concerns in ways that were never possible not that many years ago. In acknowledgement of health concerns within the Skye community, a DNA bank for Skye Terriers has been established by the Canine Genetics group at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in the U.K.

We are all concerned with the health and well-being of our heavenly breed, and The Skye Terrier Club of America has on several occasions conducted DNA swabbing to mail samples to the AHT. Since the Montgomery Specialty weekend is one of a handful of times during the year that Skyes are present in any number, we decided this would be a good opportunity to collect DNA samples from Skyes who had not participated at the Diamond Jubilee weekend swabbing event several years ago.

The AHT shipped DNA kits at no charge, an acknowledgement to the commitment to obtain as many samples as possible from as many countries. Each kit contains 6 swabs, and an information sheet to be completed, for each dog. Participants are asked to include the dog’s AKC number, five generation pedigree, and other basic information, and to check boxes indicating status for possible inherited conditions. It goes without saying that all is kept in strictest confidence.

Our plan was to conduct swabbing at the Devon show on Saturday, where a sizable number of Skyes were entered. The Potomac Skye Club generously agreed to the use of their booth, where people and dogs would be undercover in a relatively quiet corner.

As the saying goes “the best laid plans” and the show was rained out. STCA member Laura Tiktinsky kindly offered the use of her hotel room and we had a sort of swabbing party. Info sheets were filled out, and pedigrees collected from the owners. Laura did most of the actual brushing inside mouths, while several others of us, including Ellen Lehman, Karen Turnbull, Raisa Langley, and Theresa Fursa held the dogs in proper position. Ages of the dogs ranged from pups to young adults, and every dog was well behaved and accepting of the process.

The kits and accompanying information will now be packaged and mailed back to the AHT. The hope is that the Skye Terrier DNA Bank will eventually be able to develop tests for the inherited diseases known today – diseases of the kidneys and liver, hemangiosarcoma and others. This is especially important with a breed such as ours with such a limited worldwide gene pool.

Many thanks to all who participated; our next swabbing party is already being planned. The Skye Terrier Club of America will continue to stay current with canine, and specifically Skye related, health concerns.

Elaine Hersey
STCA Health Committee

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