Renal Dysplasia

History:

During the 1960s and 70s breeders noted that an unusually high instance of puppies and young Wheatens were dying, and a small number of dedicated breeders began seeking a reason for this.

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of GB, with help from Professor Andrew Nash, Glasgow University and Geneticist, Dr Bruce Cattenach, set up a testing and breeding programme in the early 1980s to identify the cause and to try and eliminate the frequency of the disease.

This programme was very successful and there is now only an occasional case reported in the UK.


Although the researchers advised that RD probably occurred via a recessive gene, no test has been developed to identify this gene. Because of the small gene pool available within the breed the gene is still present within the dog population, consequently breeders must remain vigilant and careful breeding is required to try to prevent this disease re-occurring.

Renal dysplasia is a developmental or genetic defect of the kidneys. Dogs affected with renal dysplasia have kidneys that did not properly develop when the foetus grew in the uterus and so are born with the problem. Further information about the Urinary system and Kidney anatomy can be found at Hereditary > PLE and PLN

malformed kidneys

Unhealthy or malformed nephrons in the kidney are replaced by fibrous tissue and microscopic cystic lesions in the renal cortex and decreased immature foetal glomeruli and cystic glomeruli. Eventually the kidney cannot do its job of cleansing the blood.

Dogs with Renal Dysplasia need to drink and urinate frequently. They cannot concentrate their urine making it very dilute and pale in colour.

There are various levels of arrested development in affected puppies. Therefore, some puppies show symptoms of kidney disease at, or shortly after birth, while others develop symptoms later in life.

Up to 70% of the kidney can be damaged before any signs of illness can occur.

  • Renal dysplasia is a developmental or genetic defect of the kidneys. Dogs affected with renal dysplasia have kidneys that did not properly develop when the foetus grew in the uterus.
  • The damage to the kidneys is present at birth.
  • Tests necessary to detect the presence of RD are blood, urine and if necessary endoscope biopsy.
  • Please refer to the Comparison Chart of Hereditary Diseases for signs and symptoms of this disease.

The disease is genetic and the mode of inheritance is thought to be caused by a recessive mutation. This means that both parents must carry the gene for a puppy to be affected. (Inheritance of Recessive Genes chart refers).


Further reading:

Differentiating Renal Dysplasia (Juvenile Renal Disease) from Protein Losing Nephropathy (PLN) in our Wheatens. Meryl Littman 2006 click here for pdf file.

Renal Dysplasia in Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Lori Wise DVM, MS click here for pdf file

At the present time there is no test available to show if dogs are carrying the deleterious (bad) mutations which cause this disease.