The STC has long monitored the health situation of the Skye Terrier breed and did, therefore, set up a very successful gene bank with Dr Cathryn Mellersh at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in 2006. The aim was to hopefully get DNA tests developed for inherited diseases sometimes occurring in this precious, numerically endangered breed. Two hereditary conditions are of concern, namely Renal Dysplasia (RD) and Liver disease/ Skye Terrier hepatitis (STH). Cases are thankfully not common, but it is obviously very important to try and prevent them if possible.
Two new cases of the liver disease did occur in 2012 and they were both referred to The Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge. More cases were sadly soon added, which enabled Dr Penny Watson at Queen’s to perform histology research on liver samples from those dogs in 2013. This research was continued in 2015, after a few more dogs were found to suffer from the disease.
Members of the STC have done much fundraising, and generous donations from UK and abroad have also been received from people caring about the breed. This has enabled the research to be paid from the Skye Terrier Club Health Research Fund (STCHRF).
There are now enough samples from affected dogs and work will quite soon start at the AHT to try and develop a reliable DNA test. This is also being funded by the STCHRF. Such a test would be invaluable to future breeding programmes. Tested dogs will be identified as either Affected, Carriers or Clear. This information will then be published in the Kennel Club’s Breed Record Supplement and also added to each dog’s health testing result on their KC registration details, which can be found on MateSelect, as in other breeds. Breeders can then avoid to unknowingly breed together two dogs, who both carry the disease causing gene and future births of puppies with the liver disease can thereby be prevented.
The Club deeply hopes and prays that the research will be successful in tackling this condition. The same will then hopefully be done for RD sometime in the future. Many Thanks to all, who have supported this effort with financial contributions. Further donations are also always welcome and can be done via PayPal on the website of the Skye Terrier Club.
Maud Hawkes BSc(Hons)Animal Science
Chair of Skye Terrier Club Health Committee