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Light at the end of the Copper Toxicosis tunnel

Following the recent announcement by a research team at Utrecht University of the discovery of the gene mutation responsible for Copper Toxicosis in the Bedlington Terrier, The Kennel Club hosted a meeting of representatives of the three Bedlington Terrier Clubs, the Bedlington Terrier Liver Malfunction Sub-Committee and Working Bedlingtons to discuss the way forward when this new information is used to develop a mutant-gene-based DNA test for the condition.

Such a gene-based test will accurately diagnose whether an individual Bedlington is genetically clear, a carrier or affected, from a small amount of tissue such as a blood sample.

It was agreed that the following recommendations should be put to the Clubs to take effect once the new gene-based DNA test is available:

a) An official KC testing scheme should be set up. This means that test results would be recorded and printed on KC registration documents, in the Breed Records Supplement and on the KC website. It is anticipated that fast-track testing of litters where appropriate can be arranged.

b) Any animals to be used for breeding should be tested prior to mating.

c) At least one parent should be tested clear before mating.

d) DNA profiling should be incorporated into a gene test so that all tested Bedlingtons are permanently identified.

e) Breed clubs should consider subsidising the cost of profiling if necessary.

f) Breed clubs and individuals should take all possible steps to disseminate information to owners that do not register puppies.

g) The process should be monitored and there should be another representative discussion in 2 years time to evaluate progress and draft proposals to move towards a breed control scheme in line with the document 'The Role of the Kennel Club in the Control of Inherited Disease'. Such a control scheme could set time limits on the use of affected and carrier dogs.