Study: Chiari Malformation Can Be Reduced With Cross-Breeding
A Netherlands dog breeder teams up with University of Surrey scientists to find out if there’s a way to reducing the risk of Chiari skull malformations.
A Chiari malformation is a serious disorder that develops not only in humans (1 in 1,280), but in toy dog breeds as well. This malformation is characterized by the premature fusion of bones, which forces part of the brain to push through the opening of the back of the skull. Consequently, this causes fluid-filled cavities to develop in the spinal cord, which causes headaches, walking problems or can even result in paralysis.
In a newly published study in the PLOS ONE journal, scientists from the University of Surrey worked together with Henny van der Berg, a Netherlands-based breeder, to examine how this problem could be solved. Together, they analyzed how the skull and brain of toy dogs change when a Brussels Griffon with a Chiari-like malformation is cross-bred with another pooch.
The breeder introduced the project after an accidental mating between her two dogs, an Australian Terrier and a Brussels Griffon. Together with scientists at the University of Surrey, they took on the challenge of finding out if it was possible to breed a Brussel Griffon dog that is less susceptible to a Chiari malformation.
Related: All About the Brussels Griffon Dog
The result of the study concluded with great success. The study, which took four years to complete, analyzed traits on MRI scans and how they changed from generation to generation in the family of 29 dogs. After many MRI scans and careful selection of head shapes, the study proves that it is indeed possible to breed a dog which had the external characteristics of a short-nosed Brussels Griffon and reduce the risk of a Chiari malformation by cross-breeding them with another breed.
Researchers hope that their findings will improve breeding guidelines and develop more sophisticated ways of screening so that less toy breed dogs develop this painful malformation.