Hypothyroidism in Salukis – A Voluntary Code

A number of Salukis have been identified as being either affected by hypothyroidism, or have produced affected offspring.

Hypothyroidism in dogs is considered to be a complex condition, affected by multiple genes and environmental factors.   It appears to be highly heritable and therefore sensible breeding strategies should help to reduce its incidence.

Therefore The Northern Saluki Club (NCS) and Saluki Welfare Fund (SWF) are working towards DNA testing to identify the risk of developing the hypothyroidism ahead of breeding from a dog or bitch.  However, this will probably take some time to achieve. In the meantime a voluntary code of practice has been developed and agreed to help control the spread of hypothyroidism in breed whilst waiting for the DNA test to be developed.

In the absence of the DNA test, it is recommended that testing for the presence (including severity), or absence of hypothyroidism in individual Salukis is undertaken ahead of breeding from them.  Based on research it has been determined that the best test for the disease is a TgAA Test.  The NSC  and SWF will jointly make recommendations on the best available testing on their websites. NSC link: TgAA Breeding Test

The TgAA Test shows if auto immune hypothyroidism is developing to a high degree of accuracy. The disease normally presents in a dog between 4 to 8 years of age. However, the test cannot show that the dog is, or is not, likely to produce affected offspring in the absence of active or developing hypothyroidism. Only DNA testing can achieve complete predictability. This will probably take some years to develop. We are working on it.

The Northern Saluki Club and Saluki Welfare Fund, recognise the need to preserve the maximum gene pool.  This means recognising the risks inherent in excluding large numbers of candidates from breeding.  Accumulation of data on the presence and severity of hypothyroidism in individual dogs will enable the calculation of prevalence within the breed.  This in turn will guide breeding advice, and hopefully enable genetic analysis which can further improve selection against hypothyroidism.  The Kennel Club will assist with genetic analysis once sufficient data have accrued.

Immediately however, where dogs are identified as being at higher genetic risk; for example all those bred from affected dogs, they should not be bred to another higher genetic risk dog. They should also not be bred to one that has produced affected offspring, as it thought that this is likely to produce more affected Salukis.

For all other cases the following code is recommended to help control the further spread of Hypothyroidism in the breed:

  1. Dogs and bitches should not be bred from before 4 years of age.
  2. Bitches should not be bred from more than 3 times. Dogs should be limited in use, taking into account their health ancestry, and the importance of genetic diversity within the breed. If there is any history of hypothyroidism or any other heritable disease in the previous 5 generations, dogs and bitches should not be bred from more than 3 times, preferably less. Overuse of a single dog dilutes the gene pool for future generations
  3. Both the dog and bitch should have a TgAA test to determine whether they are likely to  develop Hypothyroidism. If both are clear on the  test, then breed. If either fails, do not breed.  The details of the testing, and how and where to have it done can be found on link:Nationwide Specialist Laboratories.  The test needs to be repeated for any future pairings as the disease can develop later.                                                         
  4. Where the proposed sire or dam have produced affected offspring, or are at higher genetic risk (e.g. they themselves are the progeny of an affected dog or bitch) then breeding is acceptable provided the partner has no history of hypothyroidism in it’s previous 5 generations or offspring. However, the owners of the progeny should be given a document that explain the condition and risk of inheritance. The document should clearly explain the symptoms to watch for, and advise regular testing for the conditions onset.  [Action to be completed: NSC  and SWF to agree document/pack]

Date 2 October 2018