The American Bulldog has been identified as one of the breeds that can inherit a neurological disease called
Neuronal Canine Ceroid Lipofuscionis, or “NCL”
It is a disease that does not have to happen.
Responsible breeders will test their dogs for this recessive gene and will avoid breeding animals that can pass on the gene and produce “affected” dogs -- meaning dogs that will manifest the debilitating disease and ultimately require euthansia at a young age.
Responsible breeding can occur between a dog carrying the recessive gene and another dog that is clear of the gene. However, responsible breeding practices require testing all puppies produced from that breeding for NCL, disclosure to puppy purchasers of the genetic status of that animal, and agreement of the puppy purchaser to follow good breeding practices if they intend to use the animal for such purpose.
No dog has to suffer the effects of NCL as long as good, responsible breeding practices are maintained. The University of Missouri offers inexpensive testing services to find out if a dog is a NCL carrier, clear or affected.
Many veterinarians, just seeing the dog in the early stages, will guess that it has hip dysplasia, while others wont Have a clue what NCL is, within the next 1-3 years, the dog wont even be able to keep from falling down. When walking the dog will tend to stagger and move randomly, especially down a flight of stairs or over uneven ground. When running, the rear will show very little control. Just standing will be very difficult, much less trying to walk. Normally, by the time the dog is 5 years old, the dog will be need to be euthanized. With hip dysplasia, on average a dog can live a reasonably normal life, even if it has to be on pain killers. Also, except for severely dysplastic dogs, most dogs wont even show signs of a problem until later in life. If your American Bulldog exhibits any of these symptoms, please inform your vet about NCL. Information provided to the University of Missouri from affected dogs, including pedigree information, is most helpful in their research relating to both the canine and human forms of the disease and how it is inherited.
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