Greyhound Hereditary Neuropathy

The disease is called GHN and is a newly discovered genetic defect. It affects puppies from 3-9 months and below a short description of the clinical signs and the genetic inheretence.

The text is borrow from Dr Barbara Kessler. 

Clinical Symptoms

Usually, first signs of the disease occur at an age of 3-4 months, in

some cases not before 8-9 months. Affected puppies quite suddenly show

an abnormal gait with arched back and rear weakness, which may suppose

an injury in loin. Within a few days or weeks, condition gets worse,

the puppies visibly loose muscle and hardly can walk or run for more

than 200-300 metres. Even just a few steps lead to fatigue, puppies are

no more able to fully stretch the knee joints. They show a strange,

"bunny-like" hopping gallop with turned-out knees, later on they

collapse and cannot walk anymore. After a few minutes of recreation,

they recover strength and can continue walking for another short


  In addition to the abnormal gait, neurologic deficits come to the fore

of the pathogenesis. The spinal reflexes are highly decelerated resp.

totally absent, especially the patellar tendon reflex. In contrast,

sensoric and proprioreceptive functions are usually not affected.

With increasing age, muscle weakness is more and more progressive, the

gait gets wobbling and unstable, up to the dogs cannot get up and walk

without help any more. It differs from case to case which muscle groups

are particularly affected. Usually shoulder and thigh, as well as

temporal, back and in some animals also the laryngeal muscles are

highly atrophic. The latter are standing out because they cannot bark

and are sometimes dyspnoeic.  Affected puppies don't show any sign of

pain or disturbed well-being, they are alert and full of joie de vivre

until the end. However, they only reach an age of 9 to 13 months until

they have to be put to sleep because of their progressive muscle


The disease is inherited in a monogenic autosomal-recessive trait. So called

"carriers" (who have one healthy and one mutated allele) are

phenotypically healthy, powerful dogs - but if two of these carriers

are mated and a puppy inherits a mutated allele from both, it will be

affected by the disease.

Neuropathy Project

Thanks to the help from a lot of responsible breeders and owners, we

could collect a large amount of samples from affected puppies and their

parents, grandparents, littermates, half-siblings and other relatives.

Based on this material,  the causative gene defect could be

characterized and a gene test could be developed.

PD Dr. Cord Drögemüller at the Institute of Genetics of the University

of Bern/CH is heading several research projects about genetic diseases

in dogs. He kindly agreed to include the disease Greyhound Hereditary

Neuropathy in his research. More information about the Neuropathy

Project, together with an order form for the gene test is available on

the institute's webpage .

  By using the gene test a reliable identification of carriers is

possible now! As long as carriers are never bred to another carrier,

the birth of affected puppies will be excluded in the future. The big

bugbear of Neuropathy, which caused so much uncertainty among show

greyhound breeders, hanging like the sword of Damocles over so many

planned matings, became predictable. So many breeding plans haven't

been realized in the past, because the risk of Neuropathy was estimated

as being too high - nowadays it's possible to avoid the birth of

affected puppies in advance. We urgently recommend to use the gene test

which is available to all greyhound breeders and fanciers!


Gene test for neuropathy in Greyhounds (75.-- EUR)



 Published with permission by the author Dr Barbara Kessler

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