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DNA test for Intervertebral Disc Disease is not recommended

A team of Danish researchers has published a paper that confirms our earlier findings that the so-called UC Davis DNA test for IVDD is not suitable as a tool to reduce the risk of back disease in Dachshunds.

We do not recommend the use of the UC Davis "DNA Test" for IVDD

See: Canine Medicine & Genetics Journal December 2020

Breeding schemes for intervertebral disc disease in dachshunds: Is disc calcification score preferable to genotyping of the FGF4 retrogene insertion on CFA12?


Background Approximately every fifth Dachshund is affected by disc herniation - a painful, hereditary condition which is typically preceded by disc calcification. Therefore, the selection of dogs suitable for breeding can be based on radiographic examination of calcification status. Recently, an insertion of an FGF4 retrogene on CFA12 has been identified and associated with the risk of developing disc herniation in chondrodystrophic breeds and a DNA test is now offered. In this study we investigate the incidence of disc herniation in the smooth-haired, long-haired and wire- haired Dachshund populations. We also evaluate and compare the accuracy of the two breeding schemes predicting the risk of disc herniation: the DNA test and the radiography based scheme. Results The overall incidence of disc herniation in Danish Dachshunds was 18% and no significant difference was found between the long-haired (17%), smooth-haired (22%) and wire-haired (16%) populations (p > 0.05). We found a significant association (p <  0.0001) between calcification status and the risk of disc herniation with a relative risk of 14.78. Using calcification status (≥ 5 or <  5 calcifications) as a risk indicator has a sensitivity of 0.79 and a specificity of 0.91. A significant association between the FGF4 retrogene insertion and the disc calcification status was found in the wire-haired population (p <  0.0001) where the DNA test has a sensitivity of 1.0 and a specificity of 0.14. In the long- and smooth-haired populations no association was found (p > 0.05) and here the insertion allele was almost fixed. Conclusion Our results show that the FGF4 retrogene insertion on CFA12 is not a valid risk indicator on its own. Relying on the DNA test will have an irreversible effect on the Dachshund breed excluding almost all dogs from breeding. Thus, using calcification status remains the most reliable breeding scheme for disc herniation in Dachshunds.

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