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Calling All Mastiffs!
The Mastiff Club of America’s Seizure Disorder Sub-Committee is dedicated to helping owners of Mastiffs with seizures and encouraging participation in available Epilepsy Research Projects. Although Epilepsy is one of the most common causes of seizures in Mastiffs, we are committed to educating owners as to other conditions that should be ruled out before a diagnosis of Epilepsy can be made. If you have a Mastiff that is having seizures it is extremely important that you seek veterinary medical attention to correctly diagnose the cause of the seizures.  We are also available to offer our support and to share additional information and resources on seizing Mastiffs. Epilepsy is a difficult disease to diagnose. It can easily be mistaken for a variety of other problems.

There are a couple current Epilepsy Research Projects that need blood from Mastiffs that have been diagnosed with Epilepsy and they also need blood samples from older healthy Mastiffs over the age of seven years that have never shown any signs or symptoms of neurological disorders.   In addition to studying DNA and gene mapping, the researchers are also studying pedigrees. With the cooperation and help of the Mastiff Community, we believe we are getting closer to finding the gene(s) that cause Epilepsy in Mastiffs and we believe this research will lead to DNA tests that can be used to identify dogs with this devastating disease.One of our Epilepsy Researchers, Dr. Anita Oberbauer is a breeder of Belgian Tervurens. Being a breeder herself, Dr. Oberbauer understands the concerns that Mastiff breeders have regarding the limitations of our gene pool. At this point the only breeding recommendations that can be made regarding Epilepsy is to not breed affected Mastiffs.   Dr. Oberbauer and other researchers hope to be able to locate the gene(s) that cause Epilepsy so that Mastiff breeders can make more educated breeding decisions in the future. If researchers can develop a DNA test for Epilepsy, then we will be able to make better informed and safe breeding decisions when breeding relatives of affected dogs, including parents of affected dogs, using this new technology to ensure that a carrier is bred only to a non-carrier. This will certainly be beneficial to our gene pool as we will then be able to breed quality dogs of good merit without the fear of producing Mastiffs with Epilepsy.  We are being very optimistic and hope to have success in this study as we did with the PRA study.

Epilepsy Research Needs Blood
The Seizure Disorders Sub-Committee members and volunteers have collected cheek swabs at dog shows all over the country and now in addition to the cheek swabs, to continue research on Epilepsy in Mastiffs using newer technologies for gene mapping, the researchers need blood samples and veterinary diagnosis reports from affected dogs of any age that are experiencing generalized seizures.  Symptoms that characterize generalized seizures typically include: skeletal muscle contractions, loss of consciousness often accompanied by bowel and urinary incontinence, and rigid body.  The seizing dog’s legs generally are stretched out stiffly to begin with, rhythmic or jerking movements (jaws, legs), vocalizations occasionally, may drool and or vomit, and often are disoriented following the episode.
Click Here To Watch A Video  which shows a Mastiff having the type of seizure that the researchers are studying. (Warning: This video may be difficult for some to watch because it is graphic.)

The Epilepsy researchers also need blood from healthy unaffected veteran Mastiffs that are over the age of seven years that are free from the disease and have shown no clinical signs or symptoms of neurological disorders.  The unaffected veteran’s DNA will be used for comparison. We also encourage everyone to donate blood to the CHIC DNA Repository on ALL of your Mastiffs and to give periodic updates on the health status of your dogs to CHIC. By Participating in this program their blood can then be used for multiple research projects that involve gene mapping. We ask that you help share this request for blood (and refer them to this website) with anyone who owns a Mastiff affected with Epilepsy and are experiencing generalized seizures as well as anyone with a healthy, unaffected veteran Mastiffs that are over the age of 7 years old.  To participate in Epilepsy research, please contact both researchers & participate in both studies:

Anita Oberbauer, University of California, Davis – Canine Genetic Analysis Project (CGAP); E-mail: AMOberbauer@UCDavis.Edu; 573-884-3712
Gary Johnson, University of Missouri, Columbia, Canine Epilepsy Network E-mail: phone: 530-752-4997
We are very grateful to several Mastiff breeders that have donated DNA from Mastiffs with Epilepsy as well as from entire families related to Epileptic Mastiffs.  These breeders care very deeply for the breed and recognize the importance of having a DNA test available for Mastiffs, so that the Epilepsy gene is not doubled up on in future breeding programs. We hope that more of you will follow in their footsteps. If you have an Epileptic Mastiff, please donate blood to research.

Who Should Participate In Epilepsy Research & Donate Blood?
1.Mastiff has been diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy (repeat or cluster seizures of unknown cause).
2. Mastiff has been diagnosed with generalized or primary epilepsy due to unknown cause (idiopathic).
3. Mastiff is having repeat or cluster seizures with the phenotype shown in this video:
4. The Mastiff is known to have CLOSE relatives (mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter) that have idiopathic epilepsy.  Canine Epilepsy Network is studying DNA on affected families and individual affected dogs.  UC Davis wants blood samples from affected dogs and healthy unaffected veterans. 
5. Veteran Mastiffs that have never shown any symptoms of seizures &/or any other neurological disease.
6. Any other reasons you can contact the researchers and ask if they want your Mastiffs blood.
NOTE:  The CHIC DNA Repository needs DNA (preferably from blood) from ALL Mastiffs regardless if they have any diseases or health problems or not.  The blood from healthy dogs is as important as blood from unhealthy dogs and can be used as a control group for EVERY research project that is studying genes.

Epilepsy Gene Mapping & Pedigree Analysis
Genetic Basis for Canine Diseases, Canine Genetic Analysis Project (CGAP)
University of California, Davis Department of Animal Science
Dr. Anita M Oberbauer, PhD and Dr. Thomas R. Famula, PhD
UC Davis Epilepsy Blood Submission Form (After your signature, please check the box to donate DNA to the CHIC DNA Repository!)
UC Davis Epilepsy Research Study – Update Dog’s Information – Please update your Mastiff’s health information annually to let the researchers know the health status of the dogs participating in the Epilepsy Study.  Scroll down the page to access the form.
UC Davis Epilepsy Questionnaire – Deceased Dogs – Please share information with the researchers on your Mastiffs that have passed away.  They are collecting pedigree information on Mastiffs with and without Epilepsy and all data will be kept confidential.

The Canine Epilepsy Project’s Research
Dr. Ned Patterson, DVM, University of Minnesota
Dr. Gary Johnson, DVM, PhD, University of Missouri
Please feel free to contact us with questions and we will do our best to provide you with information and available resources.  We want to thank every Mastiff owner and breeder that participates in Mastiff Epilepsy Research and donate blood and pedigrees from your Mastiffs with Epilepsy.  Let us know if you’d like to share your Epileptic Mastiff’s Stories.

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