New Gene Mutation Discovered to Cause CDM in Dogs

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. 

CDM, which is common in a few breeds (Corgis, Boxers, German Shepherds and standard Poodles), is absent in others. The human equivalent of CDM is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” In humans, there are many genes that are causative for ALS mutations, and that is the case with the canine version of the disease too. The gene previously identified is called the “SOD1 mutation,” but recently a new one has been discovered and named “CDM2.”

DOGenes Inc., a company devoted to genetic testing and research for dogs, is the group that discovered the CDM gene and mutation. To date, the CDM2 mutation has been found in 8 breeds (including two from the Terrier group – Airedales and Tibetans), and excluded in many more. Kerries are not positively known to have the new gene and mutation, nor are they excluded. DOGenes, Inc. hopes to find out which group our dogs are in.

The inheritance of the SOD1 mutation is considered recessive (i.e., only if both parents have the gene will it be inherited) but from the data collected so far, the CDM2 mutation is dominant (meaning that if either or both parents have the gene it will be inherited. However, the mutation does have incomplete “penetrance,” meaning that not every dog with the gene will necessarily develop CDM disease.

For their research, DOGenes is very interested in identifying dogs with clinical signs of CDM, but they also need a general sampling of Kerries in an attempt to see if this new mutation is found in the general population. Specifically, they need to find at least 50 Kerry owners who would be willing to donate DNA samples from their dogs for this research and who would also be willing to update their records as the information that they entered may change over time.

DOGenes has set up a database where Kerry Blue owners can enter in information regarding the status of their dogs. This is a private database and is not open to the public. All information is confidential at all times. The records owned by database members (dog owners) can be updated at any time via the main page of the database. This way the progress of the disease or a change in the status of symptoms can be monitored throughout the life of the animal.

The criteria for participation are as follows:

  • Participants must sign up to the CDM2 database and enter in their dogs’ information.
  • Dogs must be around 8 years of age or older with or without signs of CDM. Dogs younger than 8 years may be entered if they already have CDM.
  • Only 3 dogs/kennel may be entered so that DOGenes can collect DNA from a variety of lines.
  • Participants will be asked to submit cheek swab DNA samples – two samples per dog (the test is run in duplicate – all results are confirmed).
  • There is a section in the database for participants to enter their mailing address for sending DNA collection kits. Participants will receive the number of kits required to test the number of dogs they have entered.
  • All of the testing is free, and after the test is complete, participants will be sent an email that their results are available in their records in the database.

If you would like to look at the data entry page before actually registering your dogs, click here.

Then if you wish to sign in and enter your dog(s), click here .

If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Scientific Director at DOGenes, Inc. Her name is Mary Whiteley, her email is [email protected] and her phone number is 705-748-0089. 

Please consider participating in this important research effort. In doing so, you will be helping Kerries now and for future generations as well.

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