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How Dog DNA Testing Shaped the Care of Two Pups


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Amanda and her fiancé John are proud pet parents to Roscoe and Riley. This happy California family discovered a canine health issue and turned to Embark for clarity.

Embark dogs Roscoe and Riley

Roscoe’s story

Roscoe was in John’s life before he met Amanda. The pair adopted Riley together. Both dogs were rescued from a shelter in Kentucky. Roscoe is a 6-year-old mix who was originally found tied under a trailer. After taking an Embark dog DNA test, Amanda learned that Roscoe is about 50% Australian Cattle Dog with some Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Airedale Terrier, and Supermutt in him.

Roscoe’s Embark results:

Genetic breed results for a dog named Roscoe, showing 49.8% Australian Cattle Dog, 23.5% Labrador Retriever, 11.0% Doberman Pinscher, 8.3% Airedale Terrier, and 7.4% Supermutt.

Amanda says Roscoe is the “dog version of a Honey Badger” and incredibly intelligent; he outsmarts her and John at every turn, she explained.

“He’s an opportunist,” Amanda said. “He has a very big personality. He’s emotionally sophisticated with an incredible range of emotions: torn, stressed, anxious, happy, confused, and more. There is so much personality packed into him; you learn a lot from him whenever you hang out.”

Roscoe loves any type of food and occasionally sneaks into the bathroom to eat toilet paper. He gets “super excited” about birds and has a strong emotional attachment to toys. His favorite activity is to carry and nurture his toys; he especially loves stuffed animals. He may be sweet with his toys, but don’t use baby talk when communicating with this pup—he’ll growl at you.

Roscoe also collects socks. Amanda says he often walks around the house with multiple pairs in his mouth at once—up to eight pairs at the same time.

Riley’s story

Riley, an Australian Cattle Dog, was found as a stray wandering around Kentucky. Amanda and John added Riley to their crew so Roscoe would have a friend. Riley loves organization and having his herd stick together.

Riley’s Embark results:

Genetic breed result for a dog named Riley, showing 100.0% Australian Cattle Dog.

“First and foremost, he wants to get everyone together and have them move as a group,” Amanda said.

If the family is out for a hike and one is walking slowly, Riley will hang back and ensure no one gets lost. He’s smart, funny, and focused, Amanda said.

“He really cares about my happiness and making sure we get to do fun things together,” she explained. He’s also very affectionate and loves to cuddle.

Roscoe and Riley are the treasures of this family.

“My life would not be as interesting without them,” Amanda said with a smile.

Embark testing uncovers a genetic health risk

Amanda and John decided to get Embark tests for both Roscoe and Riley due to their veterinarian’s recommendation. Riley has a serious eye condition, Primary Lens Luxation. This genetic health condition causes the lens to detach from its normal place within the pupil, leading to reduced visual acuity and irritation to the surrounding tissues. The good news is that it is surgically correctable.

The lens in Riley’s right eye became detached and then trapped in front of his pupil. He needed emergency eye surgery, which went well. Luckily, Riley was able to make a full recovery. However, had Amanda and John learned about Riley’s genetic risk for the condition earlier, it’s possible that the surgery could have been prevented.

Because this genetic condition is common in Cattle Dogs, Amanda and John wanted to ensure that Roscoe was safe as well. That’s why they immediately took their vet’s suggestion to get a DNA test for both dogs. That way, Amanda and John could be armed with as much information as possible to properly care for their pets.

Preventive care for Roscoe and Riley

It turns out that Roscoe is also at risk for Primary Lens Luxation, but only has one copy of a mutation in the ADAMTS17 gene (in contrast to Riley, who has two copies of the mutation). This mutation is known to have an additive effect, so while dogs with one copy of the mutation, like Roscoe, have a higher risk than dogs with two healthy alleles at ADAMTS17, their risk is much lower than a dog with two copies of the mutation, like Riley. So while Roscoe has a lower risk than Riley, Amanda and John are still taking preventative measures to ensure their pups are healthy. And that started with a trip to their vet’s office to discuss a care plan. Since Roscoe is lower risk, they aren’t doing much right now in terms of preventative care. However, at his next checkup, Amanda and John plan to see if they can check his intraocular pressure.

With Riley, they are taking preventive steps to try to keep his left eye from needing the lens removed.

“He gets glaucoma and steroid medication, as well as another eye drop that makes his pupil small to limit the risk of his lens becoming trapped at the front of his eye and to try to help keep it in place. We are continuing to administer eye drops in his right eye (he had the lens removed from) to try to keep his eye from going 100% blind,” Amanda said.

The Embark test made Amanda feel more confident about the future of her four-legged friends, and now she’s “not as worried about all the potential things that could happen.”
Here’s to a healthy and safe future, Roscoe and Riley!

To learn more about these two dogs, check out Riley’s Embark results and Roscoe’s Embark results.

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