A mixture of bad news and exceptionally good news awaited Bedlington Terrier breeders and enthusiasts at a seminar hosted by the Kennel Club and Natural Fit at The Moat House Hotel, Standish, near Wigan on Saturday.
The good news is that researchers at the Natural Fit Laboratory, in close association with the Animal Health Trust, have developed what appears to be the definitive test to detect hereditary Copper Toxicosis in the breed. The new test will accurately identify if an animal is affected, a carrier, or is genetically clear of the problem. Like its predecessor, the new test is non-invasive and simply involves the owner taking cheek swabs using specially designed brushes that are then posted to the laboratory for analysis.
The bad news is that in validating the new test a significant percentage of animals assumed likely to be clear using the previous marker test appear to be carriers which will be a body blow to breeders who have so diligently strived to clear their lines of this copper storage problem. Obviously many breeders may have to rethink their breeding plans and test their stock again using the Natural Fit test, but as Jeff Sampson, genetics advisor to the Kennel Club, stressed breeders now have the means at their disposal to make a significant impact on the future welfare of the breed.
Details of the first non-prescription diet specifically designed for Bedlingtons with copper storage problems were also available at the seminar and further information is available on the Natural Fit website. Petcraft has launched a range of wet and dry Natural Fit diets so that help can be offered to owners whose animals test positive.
The testing kit at just £25 each (per dog) and further details are available from www.natural-fit.co.uk
Alternatively telephone 0845 600 8151 or write to Natural Fit Laboratory, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU.