Original Research

Genetic testing of canine degenerative myelopathy in the South African Boxer dog population

Gareth E. Zeiler, Henriette van der Zwan, Marinda C. Oosthuizen
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 84, No 1 | a1005 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v84i1.1005 | © 2013 Gareth E. Zeiler, Henriette van der Zwan, Marinda C. Oosthuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2013 | Published: 03 October 2013

About the author(s)

Gareth E. Zeiler, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Henriette van der Zwan, Inqaba Biotec, Pretoria, South Africa
Marinda C. Oosthuizen, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Canine degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive disease process that is diagnosed late in life and mainly affects the pelvic limbs. Factors that make an ante-mortem definitive diagnosis of DM include: an insidious onset and clinical manifestation that mimics other disease processes of the pelvic limbs (hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament rupture, etc.) or there may even be concurrent disease processes, old-age onset and lack of reliable diagnostic methods. Until recently, South African dog owners had to submit samples to laboratories overseas for genetic testing in order to confirm an affected dog (homozygous A/A) and to aid in the ante-mortem diagnosis of DM. Only affected dogs have been confirmed to manifest the clinical signs of DM. This study aimed to verify whether genetic testing by a local genetic laboratory was possible in order to detect a missense mutation of the superoxide dismutase gene (SOD1) that is implicated in causing the clinical signs of DM. The study also aimed to detect and map the inheritance of this disease process in a local Boxer dog population where the pedigree of the sampled population was known. Venous blood collected from Boxer dogs using a simple random sampling technique. The samples were genotyped for the SOD1:c.118G>A polymorphism. Carrier and affected Boxer dogs were detected. A pedigree that demonstrated the significance of inheriting a carrier or affected state in the population was mapped. The present study concludes that genotyping of the missense mutation in Boxer dogs is possible in South Africa. There are carrier and affected Boxer dogs in the local population, making DM a plausible diagnosis in aged dogs presenting with pelvic limb pathology.


Boxer dog; degenerative myelopathy; superoxide dismutase gene; South Africa


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