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Irish Wolfhound Seizure Study

The study of seizures in Irish Wolfhounds began in September of 1995 in an effort to determine if there was, is or could be a continuing problem with seizures within the breed. The answers are: yes, yes and hopefully not. This health problem in the breed does not approach cancer or heart-related problems in terms of the number affected. Maybe we can keep it that way.

After the University of Pennsylvania agreed to participate, a preliminary questionnaire was developed to reflect the questions of owners, breeders and the team at the university. This questionnaire was sent to full and world-wide associate members of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and ads were placed in the national and some regional breed club publications. The response rate has been 30.00% (217 responses of 719 inquiries mailed).

Follow-up telephone contact is made with owners who have submitted forms for animals affected with seizures to clarify and expand information when necessary. New entries and follow up information are processed and forwarded on a regular basis for review by the team at the university.

The data submitted to the university is based on the 217 responses. The animals that qualified for the study are comprised of, at present, 89 affected animals and 103 producers. Seventy-three of these animals had grand mal seizures of unexplained nature. Three entries experienced mild generalized seizures. Two of these three animals were related to each other. Sixteen animals entered had explainable causes for their seizures. Some of these causes included liver shunt, encephalitis, hyperthermia, metasticised cancers, drug reactions and reactions to pesticides. The owners of 21 Irish Wolfhounds that are known to be affected with seizures have not yet entered the study. There are some 15 hounds said, by rumor or innuendo, to have experienced seizures but it has not been possible to confirm information on these animals and they are, therefore, not included in the study at present. Hopefully, these hounds will be added later.

Goals of the Study

The extensive detailed "wish list" that was originally submitted to the University of Pennsylvania has been refined to focus on four basic areas.

1. Identifying Irish Wolfhounds affected with seizures and categorization of these seizures.

2. Addressing problems involved in maintenance of a hound experiencing recurring epileptic seizures.

3. Collecting and processing of detailed pedigree information to assist the geneticist and breeders.

4. Collecting blood samples from the affected animals entered in the study and their immediate relatives for future DNA testing.

Limitations of the Study

The primary limitation of the study is the reluctance of Irish Wolfhound owners/breeders to participate. The Irish Wolfhounds entered in the study by no means represent all individuals of the breed which are affected with seizures. Several owners and breeders have chosen not to enter their animals in the study for personal reasons. Only if and when these IWs are formally entered will they be added to the data for the study even though they are known to be affected with seizures.

The failure to collect complete data has eliminated some entries from the study. Many of these animals are long since dead and documentation of the particulars involved is incomplete.

The short lifespan of the Irish Wolfhound as a breed has created some difficulties in the blood collection phase of the study as many of the affected hounds are already dead, as are their parents.

Eligibility For Entry Into The Study

Any Irish Wolfhound, of any bloodline, living or dead, of any age or sex, from any country that has experienced a seizure or seizures for any reason may be submitted. It is important to remember that to determine if a pattern of inheritance exists it is necessary to know also which animals are not affected with seizures, especially those with close degrees of relatedness (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc) to the hounds with seizures. Remember, too, that use of gene pools in other countries has become increasingly easier and more frequent. It could well be that your affected animal is related to affected ones in different countries.

This study is to explore all types of seizures, not just the suspected inheritable form. Information is also needed about hounds who have had seizures with specific causes, such as drug reactions, disease or environmental influences.

To obtain a preliminary questionnaire please contact:
Anne Janis
P.O. Box 928.
Fayetteville, GA 30214
Fax (770) 460-9819
Email -

© Anne Janis 1998

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