focuses on genetic, or inherited, diseases.
Especially dangerous are the diseases caused by recessive genes. The recessive nature
of the genetic coding means that only a dog that carries both genes for the disease
will be "affected", that is, show symptoms of the disease. It is a simple matter to
remove these dogs from the gene pool, so they do not spread the gene.
But even dogs that "carry" only one disease
gene, and are thus not affected themselves, could pass that disease gene on to their
offspring, making them carriers as well. This allows the gene to spread invisibly
throughout the breeding population. Only when a significant proportion of the
population is carrying the gene, and carrier-to-carrier breedings begin to take
place, will affected puppies be born. At that point it is impossible to know how
many dogs must be excluded from the gene pool without some test to determine which
For those conditions, like Malamute
Chondrodysplasia (MC), where the symptoms are detectable at birth, a "test breeding"
program like the one instituted by the AMCA in the early '70s can reduce the incidence
of the gene almost to zero. In a program like this, affected dogs are bred to dogs
whose genetic involvement is in doubt. If no affected puppies are produced, the
questionable dog cannot be a carrier, and is "cleared". Of course this process is
expensive, statistically imperfect, and produces litters of carrier puppies that must
be cared for or euthanized. And for some recessive-gene conditions, like Inherited
Polyneuropathy, where the symptoms may appear as late as 24-months, test-breeding
is not practical. That is why a direct DNA test is desirable.
The Foundation has so far funded and/or
assisted investigations into Chondrodysplasia (MC), Inherited Polyneuropathy (IP),
Late-onset Canine Alopecia (CF), Canine Hip Dysplasia and Cataracts. Future
projects may include Day-blindness and Hypothyroidism, or any other apparently
inherited condition that Malamute owners can identify. If you have suggestions
or questions please contact one of the Board members.
PROJECTS UNDER CONSIDERATION (as of Aug'00)
Hypothyroidism Diagnosis Education Project Funding
Est.: $2,500 Completion Goal: 2001
Despite publications available, Hypothyroidism
is not diagnosed consistently in the veterinarian community. This project's goal will be
to accomplish two items:
- Publish an Alaskan Malamute Owners guide to the correct
diagnosis of Hypothyroidism and educate owners on the symptoms and potential
- Publish an educational diagnosis paper to the veterinarian
and university community raising the awareness of the condition, proper diagnosis,
and provide references and contacts.
Any future projects for DNA or other type work is
dependent on properly identified sample groups and truly understanding the range of the
condition within the breed.
Eye Health Studies Funding
Est.: $?0,000 Timing: Future (200?)
A significant amount of interest amongst the
Malamute community exists in providing support to DNA work in this area. In addition,
a significant amount of research is taking place at multiple universities. The
AMRF board has approached this condition with caution for a number of reasons which
include the significant expense which currently does not exist in our budget, and
the lack of distinctive cataract definition in the research goals being conducted.
Among the Research projects in progress:
- PRA - Dr. Aguirre at Cornell is very close to
completing research that will lead to a DNA test for PRA in several Nordic
breeds. Dr. Aguirre expects to find the same mutation in the Malamute.
- Day Blindness - Dr. Aguirre's research will continue
into the study of Day Blindness.
- Cataracts - Michigan State is just beginning
research into cataracts as part of the AKC Canine Health Foundation grant,
however has yet to limit or define the research to any particular type. The
AMRF Technical Advisor has been in frequent contact with MSU, in a consulting
fashion, to represent the interests of the Alaskan Malamute, and better
understand the focus of the research.
AMRF sees potential opportunities to support
this and has not yet defined the role it will fill. Potential options being considered
- Participate in the funding and coordination of DNA sample
collection in future cataract studies once the goals of the study is accurately
- Develop and distribute materials helping to educate
malamute owners, AKC, and research groups in the number, types, and prevalence
- Approach CERF with proposals to broaden the CERF definitions
and characterization of cataracts in order to properly identify and classify
the condition found in animals. This would help breed clubs to better utilize
the data in the understanding of potential for inheritance, progress nature of
specific conditions, and future breeding education.
Bloat Project Funding
Est.: $?0,000 Timing: Future (200?)
Several other breed clubs are beginning
research into the Bloat condition. AMRF will stay abreast of research projects plans
and potentially participate in projects which could provide the most benefit to
the Alaskan Malamute.
Canine Hip Dysplasia Project Funding
Est.: $?,000 Timing: Future (200?)
A large project is funded at MSU at no
initial cost burden to the Alaskan Malamute. The project does however need
significant participation in the form of family tree DNA samples. AMRF will
maintain contact with the project, and help to facilitate a greater number of
samples being provided.