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DM is an hereditary degenerative and life-limiting disease of the spinal cord. Initial signs of DM are non-painful weakness and incoordination of one hind limb. Over a period of just months, this weakness & incoordination progresses to involve both hind limbs. Eventually, an affected dog will lose the ability to walk. Features of DM include a "drunken sailor" gait, dragging of hind paws making them bleed & wearing down the tops of the toenails, and crossing of the hind limbs & falling over when cornering.

  • The only way to definitively diagnose DM ... i.e. confirm a clinical (presumptive) diagnosis ... is by post-mortem histopathological examination of the spinal cord (looking at the spinal cord under the microscope)

  • Clinical (presumptive) DM is a diagnosis of exclusion i.e. a diagnosis is arrived at following examination and investigations e.g. MRI scan, to rule out other neurological and orthopaedic conditions with similar presenting signs ... and observing the expected progression of clinical neurological deterioration

  • The Glen has been listed as a DM susceptible breed by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) since March 2023

  • A DNA test is also useful, to know whether the dog is homozygous for the SOD1 gene mutation i.e. it has inherited 2 copies of the gene mutation - one from each parent​

The Glen of Imaal Terrier Breed Health and Conservation Plan (BHCP) ... a collaboration between the Kennel Club and the two UK breed clubs ... lists DM as 'at watch' and has DNA testing for DM listed under 'Breed Club Breeding Recommendations'.

The presentation below aims to provide an overview of DM, including how it affects the Glen of Imaal Terrier and why breeders are now being recommended to DNA test their breeding stock.


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