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Five Genetic Tests Every Kerry Breeder Should Do


© 2013 Kery Blue Terrier Foundation

No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Reprinted with permission from Kery Blue Terrier Foundation.

There are five genetics tests available for Kerry Blue Terriers. The newest test is for Canine Multiple System Degeneration (Progressive Neural Atrophy). We highly recommend that anyone breeding a Kerry Blue test your dogs for these genetic disorders.
This link ( will lead you to a detailed guide on canine genetics and breeding practices.

1. Canine Multiple System Degeneration (CMSD)

Disease: Nervous system

Description: Canine multiple system degeneration (CMSD formerly PNA) is a hereditary movement disorder that affects Kerry Blue Terriers and Chinese Crested Dogs. Affected pup develop normally until about 4 months of age. Then their head starts to shake when the focus on something, and rather than becoming stronger and more coordinated, they develop exaggerated, goose-stepping movements (cerebellar ataxia). Dogs can function with cerebellar ataxia, but CMSD progresses to a more severe movement disorder by 12-18 months of age. Affected dog have difficulty even starting a movement and fall frequently. They become incapacitated by 2 years of age. (University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine)

Laboratory: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
The OFA's mission statement is: To promote the health and welfare of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease.

Web Address:

Additional Information:

  • List of Breed Club Health Surveys: The OFA offers breed surveys for a number of breed parent clubs. They are offered free of charge.Kerry Blues are not represented.
  • CHIC DNA Repository: The repository is co-sponsored by the OFA and the AKC/CHF. It collects and stores canine DNA samples along with corresponding genealogic and phenotypic information to facilitate future research and testing aimed at reducing the incidence of inherited disease in dogs.
  • Other articles about Canine multiple system degeneration (CMSD) in Kerries

Fee for DNA Test: $65.00 (USA) (

2. Degenerative Myelopathy (Multiple breeds)

Disease: Spinal Cord

Description: 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. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of DM is that it is not a painful disease. (Canine Genetic Disease Network)

Laboratory: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)

Web Address:

Fee for Test: $65.00 (USA)

Additional Information:

3. Coagulation Factor XI Deficiency (Kerries only)

Disease: Blood

Description: Inability to form adequate blood clotting. The theory is that Factor XI not only has a role in initial clot formation, it has a role in maintaining coagulation. If an animal is deficient, the clot can break down and bleeding can start again. This is why bleeding may be delayed up to 4 days.

Laboratory: PennGen Laboratories
This web site requires registration (no cost). It provides easy to follow instructions from the home page tabs. You can search available tests by breed - there are 4 listed for Kerries. It also provides a list of testing labs world-wide.

Web Address:

Additional Information on this site:

Fee for DNA Test: $75.00 (USA) (

4. Merle - SILV (All breeds)

Disease: Coat

Description: Merle is a pattern of coloring observed in the coat of the domestic dog and is characterized by patches of diluted pigment. This trait is inherited in an autosomal, incompletely dominant fashion. Dogs heterozygous or homozygous for the merle locus exhibit a wide range of auditory and ophthalmologic abnormalities. SILV is a pigment gene best known as the Silver locus responsible for a recessive trait in an inbred strain of black mice in which the hair color dilutes with age. Although this gene is known to have a central role in pigmentation, the precise function of SILV remains controversial

Laboratory: IDEXX
This laboratory is only for licensed veterinarians. It does not offer services to the general public. Tests have to be ordered by your veterinarian.

Web Address:

5. von Willebrand's Disease Type I (Multiple breeds)

Disease: Blood

Desciption: Von Willebrand's is an inherited bleeding disorder. It is the most common inherited bleeding disorder among dogs. Platelet stickiness and clumping is negatively impacted. Similar to hemophilia in humans, this condition can lead to excessive bleeding following an injury, due to the lack of clotting.

Laboratory: Genetic Technologies (Australia), VetGen This web site is easy to navigate.

Web Address:

Fee for Test: $65-$95 for health tests, see above shopping cart

Additional services:

  • DNA Profiling ( DNA Profiling allows you to establish positive identification of your Kerry to allow registration with OFA, identification of your dog in the event of him/her being lost or stolen and to verify or exclude parentage. The test and kit can be ordered with the one for von Willebrand's.
  • DNA Storage ( DNA samples can be stored for ten years so that when new DNA tests for genetic diseases become available you will not have to repeat the sample collection. As Vet Gen develops new DNA tests for genetic characteristics other than diseases, you can use the stored DNA to determine if your dog has the characteristics. The stored DNA can also be used for identification of parentage determination.
  • Breeding Strategies ( The site provides information on how to interpret the DNA results to structure your breeding program.
  • Other articles about blood disorders in Kerries

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The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation is a nonprofit charity dedicated to promoting the welfare of the Kerry Blue Terrier breed in the areas of education, rescue and health & genetics. Learn More.


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P. O. Box 1495
Solvang, CA 93464

Box 109
11420 - 142 Street NW
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