Health Updates

adult-and-pup-malamute

This page contains information provided by the AMCA Health committee concerning he health of the Alaskan Malamute.

I spoke with Shila Nordone at CHF this past week to get clarification on a number of issues with the samples at Dr. Lohi’s lab.  The following is what was provided:

1) The only samples absolutely requiring exclusion are those of intentionally bred dwarfs.  The ethical issues that CHF is responsible for upholding involve intentional creation of disease.

2) The majority of the samples initially provided to Dr. Lohi were either intentionally bred carriers or test-bred carriers (clear dogs bred to dwarfs producing 100% carrier offspring).  Because carrier status is not disease status, these should not need to be excluded.

3) Test-breeding is not intentional breeding.  Any dwarf samples which are a result of test-breeding would be allowable.

4) The health committee has been trying to get semen stored at ICSB on two dwarves used for test-breeding converted to DNA for use in the project.  One of these was an intentionally bred dwarf and must be excluded.  The other was a naturally born dwarf and can be included.  A third stored in Australia is of unknown status and we will be exploring what the history is on that dog…we believe it to be a naturally born dwarf.  We are hopeful these two dogs can be included.

I am currently going through the pedigrees of the samples that Dr. Lohi was sent through Dr. Venta and CHIC and classifying all of them into the above status.  We do not yet have a complete list of these to work off of, so final numbers are probably a few weeks away.  (please note, this issue applies only to our original research dogs, so no confidential pedigrees will be shared with me) 

Once I have these numbers, I will provide them to everyone. Once Dr. Lohi is able to examine the impact of the loss of these samples, he will provide us with a summary as to this.  As was stated earlier, these samples were actually fairly problematic for the study, and their exclusion may not affect the long-term goal–he has clearly stated that the only thing which will speed up the project are current, naturally born dwarves and their families in a larger number from diverse pedigrees.

So right now, the numbers requiring exclusion are small enough, and their data was problematic enough, that this may not matter in the long run. We need to be clear that these are NOT guidelines unique to the Canine Health Foundation.  These were set into place by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which was established with federal guidelines.  No researcher receiving federal funds for ANY project–not just the project in question–would knowingly violate these guidelines, as to do so would jeopardize all of their research funding.

The guidelines were established to ensure humane treatment of animals in research, which I know is an issue we can all appreciate and support.  So CHF is not the one responsible for these guidelines, IACUC–and the federal government, are.  These are also NOT unique to the United States as most foreign governments we would do research with have long had similarly established guidelines.

The other important issue we have discovered is that if at any point Dr. Lohi feels that the inclusion of these samples would result in the DNA test, then we do have other options.  The guidelines that CHF is operating under do not allow the use of samples from intentionally bred dwarves.  However, if he were to apply for and receive an exemption from IACUC **IN ADVANCE** of a funded study–so that the study was funded with full disclosure of the use of the samples–then this would allow the use of the samples. 

Since these samples are old, from discontinued breeding practices, and involve a rare gene, this may very well be possible.  To be clear, it would NEVER be possible to intentionally breed dwarves now and apply for an exclusion to use those samples/dogs, so a future “dwarf colony” is not of value and shouldn’t be considered. 

We feel confident that Dr. Lohi is able to make the assessment as to whether the use of the old samples is necessary to obtain a DNA test.  The samples will NOT be destroyed. As we learn more information, we will inform the board and membership immediately.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki have been using two complementary research methods to discover the causative mutation for chondrodysplasia in the Alaskan Malamute: exome sequencing and genome-wide association mapping. Their current results are promising but more samples are needed to confirm these findings. Dr. Lohi and his team are very interested in receiving blood samples from both affected Alaskan Malamutes and their healthy relatives. Blood samples are preferred because of DNA quality and yield. AKC CHF Information Email from AKC Canine Health Foundation –

One of the greatest challenges for the researchers working to prevent, treat, and cure canine disease is recruiting participation in research projects. If you or someone you know has a dog with chondrodysplasia, please consider helping!

Researchers at the University of Helsinki have been using two complementary research methods to discover the causative mutation for chondrodysplasia in the Alaskan Malamute: exome sequencing and genome-wide association mapping. Their current results are promising but more samples are needed to confirm these findings.

Dr. Lohi and his team are very interested in receiving blood samples from both affected Alaskan Malamutes and their healthy relatives. Blood samples are preferred because of DNA quality and yield.

Also, view the complete list of studies needing participation* for other opportunities to help. Each study has unique requirements, so please contact the laboratory listed if you have questions about a specific project.

And don’t forget that samples are always being accepted by the Canine Health Information Center DNA Repository and the Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium.

From all of us at the AKC Canine Health Foundation, thank you for considering participating in research!

*The AKC Canine Health Foundation ensures studies are Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approved and provide standard informed owner consent information before publicizing requests for participation. Not all projects listed are funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation and the inclusion of information about studies does not necessarily imply a recommendation for participation. This list is provided as a service to dog owners and breeders.