Degenerative Myelopathy (referred to as DM) is a genetic disorder that is prevalent in German Shepherd Dogs, but has also been found to effect at least 42 other breeds of dogs. DM is a progressive disease that attacks the spinal cord in older dogs. Dogs who are developing this genetic disease will start to loose coordination in their back legs, and eventually cause paralysis in their hind end. It works it’s way up the spine, so it is devastating to watch what is otherwise a perfectly healthy and active dog not be able to participate in the activities that they want to, and otherwise would be able to.
In 2008, they discovered a connection between the SOD1 gene and the mutation that causes DM, and were able to find a way to test for it. To screen a dog for DM, you collect DNA cells from a simple cheek/saliva swab and send it to a testing facility (DDC, OFA, GenSol, etc.), which then processes the sample and sends you back the results. It can take anywhere from 5 - 20 days to get the results back, depending on the facility.
While many breeders do not feed the need to test for this disease, studies show that some dogs that were tested and confirmed “At Risk” have developing the disease as young as 7 years old. However, not all dogs who test “At Risk” (Double Positive - A/A) will develop this disease in their lifetime.
Seelenvoll German Shepherds is dedicated to producing pups that will never be “At Risk” for Degenerative Myelopathy. We test all of our dogs and make sure to only breed females that are “Clear” to untested outside males.