Golden Retreiver in the woods

Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM)

The DNA test is available for Border Terriers

What is Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy?

This mutation is also known as “shaking puppy syndrome.” Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM) is a hereditary disease of Border Terriers.

Puppies with this disease show an uncontrollable shaking of their hind limbs as soon as they begin to stand and try to walk. As the puppies grow, this shaking can affect the entire body, and the prognosis is poor.

Is this a hereditary disease?

Yes, Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy is a recessive hereditary disease. In recessive diseases, both parents are usually perfectly normal all their lives. That’s because all genes come in pairs and the normal parents have one normal gene that allows them to produce the enzyme they need. The other gene, however, is the bad gene that cannot produce the enzyme. Each parent passes on one of their genes to their offspring. If a pup is unlucky enough to get the bad gene from each parent, then it cannot produce any enzyme and develops Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy.

A DNA test is now available and we believe it prudent for Border Terrier breeders to test dogs they intend to breed. (Puppies can be tested as early as about 4 weeks of age.) Wise consideration of the DNA test results will allow Border Terrier owners to make informed choices when choosing which dogs to breed, and avoid producing puppies destined to become affected with this disease. Carriers of the mutant gene can be used for breeding, but should be bred to a dog that is tested clear of this mutation. By doing this, no affected dogs will be born, and the desirable traits and genetic diversity that these dogs offer the breed can be maintained.

By using this DNA test wisely, Border Terrier breeders can work toward eliminating this devastating disease from the breed while maintaining the genetic diversity and many positive traits that endear these dogs to their devoted owners.

Information supplied by the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, used by permission.

More information may be found at MU College of Veterinary Medicine

Research Available:

Statistics on testing results

Order DNA Test

Tests are ordered online through the secure area of the OFA website. Payment is accepted by credit card (MasterCard and VISA). The OFA administers all order handling. Upon receipt of an order, the OFA will send out the test kit which will include a Foam-Tipped Applicator and FTA card for DNA sample collection, along with sample collection instructions. Using the FTA card technology, owners can safely collect DNA samples at home. The collection process is non-invasive, and no veterinary appointment is necessary.

Samples are then sent to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine where the samples will be processed by the Small Animal Molecular Genetics Lab. Results will be forwarded to the OFA, and the OFA will issue the resulting report to the owner.

The fee for each test includes the test kit, laboratory processing, and subsequent registration in the OFA databases.