All Hands on Deck.

Anyone who has Bernese Mountain Dogs hears Histiocytic Sarcoma and runs screaming down the hall, if only in our minds.

Histiocytic Sarcoma is a wicked, terrible, sneaky thief who steals our beloved dogs at all ages and from ALL pedigrees. There is no cure for Histiocytic Sarcoma; treatment is palliative.

No pedigree in Bernese Mountain Dogs is safe from Histiocytic Sarcoma. This is a community-wide problem and that is why we need all hands on deck.

Right now.

Antagene in France has been researching this disease for years, and as a result of that work developed a simple test that sorts Berners into three categories:

A = Four times less likely to develop Histiocytic Sarcoma

B = Neutral (not more or less likely to develop Histiocytic Sarcoma)

C = Four times more likely to develop Histiocytic Sarcoma

IMPORTANT: This test does not predict that a dog will get Histiocytic Sarcoma!!! It is a measure of probability.

It is not quite as straightforward as it might seem — a “C” dog can produce plenty of A and B if bred carefully, and an A dog can produce C. It is the pairing that matters most — not a dog’s A/B/C category.

Antagene has now made the Histiocytic Sarcoma Index Mate Selection tool (HSIMS) available for breeders — FOR FREE. It allows us to do hypothetical breedings between our own dogs and other tested dogs in the database whose owners have opted in.

Why is this blowing the roof off the house? Because those hypothetical breedings tell us what we can expect in terms of percentage of A/B/C in the hypothetical puppies. In other words, we — as a community — have a tool to help us work together to reduce the risk of Histiocytic Sarcoma in our breed.

Through running dozens of test matings with dogs from all over the world, I have learned that Sparkle and Claire (both “B”) produce very differently even when test bred to the same dog. Those generous and community-minded owners who share their dogs in the HSIMS tool have my gratitude.

Through running dozens of test matings with dogs from all over the world, I have learned that Sparkle and Claire (both “B”) produce very differently even when test bred to the same dog. Those generous and community-minded owners who share their dogs in the HSIMS tool have my gratitude.

Sparkle and Claire are both “B.”

A test mating with Dog #1 looks like this in terms of expected A/B/C of offspring:

Sparkle: 3/31/66
Claire: 12/63/25

A test mating with Dog #2 looks like this in terms of expected A/B/C of offspring:

Sparkle: 19/68/13
Claire: 36/62/0

Fascinating.

Daisy, also a B, produces results similar to Sparkle in test pairings.

Daisy, also a B, produces results similar to Sparkle in test pairings.

I have a spreadsheet going and because of that, I observe two things that puzzle me.

First, most breeders are not playing — even ones with known tested dogs. Maybe they are unaware? In order for this to work, we all must be willing to participate and that means sharing dogs tested through Antagene into the HSIMS tool.

There is privacy built in — we can only do test pairings with our own dogs who are in the Antagene database and dogs of the opposite sex who have been shared by their owners. The A/B/C index of the opposite sex dogs is not revealed. No photo of the dog’s owner in her underwear is included in the HSIMS.

The second puzzling thing is that dogs have appeared — and then disappeared — from the HSIMS. This can only happen because the owner removed them.

Why would someone do that?! All info is valuable, whether I would consider your male or not. The presence of those dogs in the HSIMS tool helped me learn important things about my own dogs. But now some of them are gone — poof.

Certainly those owners are not adding their dogs to do their own test matings with other people’s dogs, and then removing them when their own educational needs are met?! Who would do that?!

So here is my take-home message.

  1. Test your dog because the research continues and it matters! The BMDCA is having a special clinic with reduced cost at the Specialty — click HERE for details.

  2. If you have already tested your dog, please opt-in to the HSIMS tool, whether said dog is breedable or not; every dog is valuable to learning and you will be setting a good example.

  3. We all need to row in the same direction — there is no shame in a dog’s category. Kudos to those of you who know this and have openly shared your C Index dogs — your actions speak volumes about things that matter, and I am not talking about the dogs. #integrity

Let’s do this thing — in honor of every single Berner we have lost to Histiocytic Sarcoma. #teamwork