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Genetic Health Testing for Yorkshire Terriers

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Yorkshire Terrier

Embark for Breeders offers four breed-specific genetic health tests for the Yorkshire Terrier among the 250+ genetic health conditions for which Embark tests. Breeders can easily share breed-specific DNA test results on parents or puppies with the one-page DNA Health Summary report with Embark test results.  

Genetic health testing is an integral part of a responsible dog breeding program. When using genetic health testing, breeders need to educate themselves about concepts such as modes of inheritance, penetrance, prevalence, and phenotype for a specific variant in their breed to apply test results. Breeders also need to know which variants are causing health concerns in their breed and which health conditions currently have no genetic test available. This handy search function by breed or health condition can show breeders which DNA tests Embark provides. 

Embark DNA tests for the Yorkshire Terrier include the following conditions. The health condition percentages based on clear, carrier, and at-risk status presented on common, rare, and very rare genetic risk factors are based on a subset of dogs within the Embark database and do not necessarily represent all dogs of this breed. While we are not able to provide specific population numbers at this time, we believe the data provided here to be sufficient to inform on current trends within the North American population of Yorkshire Terriers. 

Common genetic health risk factors <95% clear rate

These are the most common genetic conditions based on Embark data, ranked from most to least prevalent in the Yorkshire Terrier, with less than 95% of dogs testing clear. 

Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)

The dog equivalent of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, DM is a progressive degenerative disorder of the spinal cord. Because the nerves that control the hind limbs are the first to degenerate, the most common clinical signs are back muscle wasting and gait abnormalities. The gene is SOD1A*, and the mode of inheritance is recessive. 

* SOD1A vs SOD1B

Please note: While we test for the SOD1A variant, we do not test for the SOD1B (Bernese Mountain Dog type) variant at this time. Degenerative Myelopathy genotype results apply only to SOD1A.

  • Based on Embark-tested Yorkshire Terriers that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 78.2% of dogs tested clear; 19.8% tested as carriers; and 1.7% at risk for Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)

Citations:  Awano et al 2009, Shelton et al 2012, Capuccio et al 2014 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, prcd

PRA-prcd is a retinal disease that causes progressive, non-painful vision loss. The retina contains cells, called photoreceptors, that collect information about light and send signals to the brain. There are two types of photoreceptors: rods, for night vision and movement, and cones, for day vision and color. This type of PRA leads to early loss of rod cells, leading to night blindness before day blindness. The gene is PRCD Exon 1 and the mode of inheritance is recessive. 

  • Based on Embark-tested Yorkshire Terriers that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 85.7% of dogs tested clear; 13.5% tested carriers, and 0.7% tested at-risk for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, prcd

Citations: Zangerl et al 2006

 

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Very rare genetic health risk factors >99% clear rate

The following genetic conditions have a greater than 99% clear rate and are considered very rare genetic diseases in the Yorkshire Terrier

Hyperuricosuria and Hyperuricemia or Urolithiasis, HUU (SLC2A9)

This condition causes kidney and bladder stones composed of urate. In most dogs, uric acid is converted to allantoin, an inert substance then excreted in the urine. Dogs with HUU have defects in the pathway that converts uric acid to allantoin. As such, uric acid builds up, crystallizes, and forms urate stones in the kidneys and bladder. Uric acid is an intermediate of purine metabolism. While hyperuricemia in other species (including humans) can lead to painful conditions such as gout, dogs do not develop systemic signs of hyperuricemia. The gene is SLC2A9. This mutation was first described in the Dalmatian. This mutation is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. 

Citations: Bannasch et al 2008 , Karmi et al 2010 , Donner et al 2016

Primary Lens Luxation (ADAMTS17)

PLL occurs when the lens spontaneously detaches from its normal residence within the pupil, leading to reduced visual acuity. Anterior lens luxation is when the lens falls forward, and posterior lens luxation is when the lens falls backward in the eye. The gene is ADAMTS17. The mode of inheritance is additive. 

Citations: Farias et al 2010 Gould et al 2011

With four known conditions in the Yorkshire Terrier, this is evidence that genetic disorders are of concern within the breed, and other conditions are likely to be identified in the future. By DNA testing your Yorkshire Terriers with Embark, you can help accelerate more novel discoveries to help your breed and all dogs. 

Canine Health and Breed Resources 

The Yorkshire Terrier Club of America

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)

OFA Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)

OFA-CHIC Health Testing Requirements for the Yorkshire Terrier

Mandatory

ACVO Eye Exam 

Patellar Luxation

Optional but recommended 

Legg-Calve-Perthes

Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Cornell DNA Bank

DNA Repository

Hip Dysplasia 

 

Remember, genetic health testing is not a diagnosis of a disease. Please consult your veterinarian for any health issues with your dog. To start your DNA testing journey, explore Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Tests. 

 

Lisa Peterson Contributor

Award-winning writer, journalist, and podcast host Lisa Peterson is a canine subject matter expert and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She served as the American Kennel Club director of communications and club communications for 10 years before becoming a Westminster Kennel Club public relations consultant from 2016 to 2021. Lisa began owning, breeding, and handling Norwegian Elkhounds more than 35 years ago, and today is an AKC judge and AKC Breeder of Merit.

Read more about Lisa Peterson

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