The Wheaten Genome and Lifetime Project

Wheaten Health Initiative would like to thank Helen Moreland, Carol Carlson and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America (SCWTCA), for their cooperation and encouragement in allowing WHI to disseminate information about their project.

The following is a summary of the Announcement in October 2011 by Helen J Moreland.

"I am coordinating the SCWT Lifetime Study offered by SCWTCA in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Human Genome Research Institute. We have a chance for the NIH to look at all the health diseases of the SCWT, by DNA mapping the genome and identifying disease markers.

To do this we need samples of blood from dogs born between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2010.

This is a big deal, the study is worth several hundred thousand to a million dollars and is being offered free to SCWT owners by the NIH. The NIH would like to study the SCWT genome. The boxer's genome was the first mapped.

Basically, we are going to lose this grant by the end of December if more specimens are not submitted.

It's in your hands now to decide whether you want to support research that will help our dogs now and future generations."



Dr. Heidi Parker’s proposal states, “Our aim is to use a combination of blood samples, physical measurements and health information to examine a variety of health issues important to the breed.”This information will be used “to find genes important in disease susceptibility and progress, as well as to understand the genetic basis of canine body shape and size.”

“We will use the health information provided from these dogs to determine the incidence of disease within the breed and calculate the inheritance of each.” All genetic, identification and health information will remain confidential"

The SCWT Lifetime Health Study will follow 500 Wheatens' for 10 years to determine the diseases prevalent in the breed and find genes related to those diseases. The study will be conducted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Heidi Parker, PHD, Ostrander Canine Genomics Laboratory, National Human Genome Research Institute of NIH is the researcher. For further information read the NIH Study letter (opens as pdf).

For more information follow this link to the NIH (USA) website (the Wheaten project is detailed at the bottom of the left margin of this page).


Must be born between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2010 and can be from any country, as long as purebred with a pedigree* (i.e. parentage is known and authorised by the country's official Kennel Club).

Before you proceed, please be sure that you can commit to annual health surveys (can be completed on-line) for 10 years and provide copies of veterinary and laboratory reports for diagnosed health issues.

If you are a breeder, please forward this information to your pet owners who might be interested in participating.


If you decide to participate in this project, you should email: which reaches Gretchen M. Carpintero-Ramirez, Lab Samples Manager, to get the Veterinary kit(s). Don't forget to state how many dogs will participate. The kit will be dispatched as soon as possible.

Your Kit includes:

  • A Blood Consent Form.
  • A pair of phials for collecting blood at your veterinarian’s practice.
  • Instructions for handling the blood.
  • An introductory letter relating to the study.
  • A hard copy of the *Introductory Health Survey

The procedure is as follows:

1. Mail Gretchen, (mail address above) to request your testing kit and also request a password for the on-line survey. You can also contact us at WHI for this password if necessary.

2. Complete the on-line survey to enrol your dog(s).

3. Return, as a scanned email attachment, your signed Blood Consent Form, to Gretchen at the the NIH.

IT IS IMPORTANT that both the on-line survey and the Blood Consent Form reaches the NIH before December 31 AND that the blood sample arrives no more than a week later.

4. Make an appointment with your vet when your testing kit arrives and take the kit(s) and copy NIH Study letter with you.

The cost to owners will vary according to veterinary charges, do make sure that your Vet is aware of the project. Also postage to return the annual survey, unless this is completed online.

5. Return the Samples using the addressed label(s) provided, these can be easily sent by airmail. The collection kit comes in a small mailer tube that protects the blood phials and can be mailed at room temperature without cold packs

The BLOOD CONSENT FORM must have been mailed before the samples are returned.

December 2011

Update January 2013, Dr Heidi Parker

The First Annual Report is now available, click here to open the pdf document.

Dr Parker advises that the first survey will be sent early February to your mailbox, so please advise any change of email or postal address which has taken place since your Wheaten(s)blood samples were sent to the NIH.

Confirm your own and your dogs details so that your records can be easily identified and amended. (See item 2 above.)


or write to: Heidi G. Parker, PhD


50 South Drive, MSC 8000, Bldg. 50, Room 5347

Bethesda, MD 20892-8000


WHI will publish updates on this project as and when they are received.

All of the information the NIH collect is kept confidential and individual dogs will never be identified.

Thank you in advance for your time and effort. Every sample is precious and provides researchers with new and unique genetic information. The work would not be possible without the participation of responsive owners like yourselves, and NIH thank you for considering our request.