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Researchers Offer Hope to Our Irish Friends

It seems only fitting to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by honoring our canine friends hailing from Ireland.

Irish Setters became popular in the 18th century when they were developed from a mix of Irish Water Spaniels, Irish Terriers, English Setters, Spaniels, Pointers and Gordon Setters. Their trademark solid red color became the mark of excellence in the breed in the 19th century.

Mischievous and independent, these dogs are also playful and eager to please. It’s no wonder they’ve won the hearts of so many. Though typically a healthy breed, Irish Setters—like all dogs—are prone to certain health issues, including bloat, epilepsy, hypothyroidism and hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD).

Morris Animal Foundation has funded research in all of these areas. Currently it is supporting a Fellowship Training Grant for Dr. Noa Safra at the University of California–Davis.

Dr. Safra is studying HOD in Irish Setters and Weimaraners. HOD affects many breeds of rapidly growing large dogs at a young age. This painful bone disease can cause lameness, and affected puppies may have several episodes of HOD. Because the dogs may suffer from poor quality of life and treatment is expensive, some owners elect euthanasia.

By genotyping Weimaraners and Irish Setters with similar HOD presentations, Dr. Safra hopes to learn more about this disorder and its genetic characteristics. Identifying genetic markers associated with HOD could help breeders select against the disease, thereby decreasing or even eliminating HOD’s incidence.

We’re wishing Dr. Safra and his team lots of luck in their efforts to prevent HOD in Irish Setters.

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Categories: Canine health
March 17, 2014