Introduction

In 2017, in the United Stated, a number of things happened that brought to light the usefulness of genetic testing in better understanding the breed that we all love.

First, because of some import/export activity between the U.S. and Australia, we in the U.S. became aware that we have the genetic markers for a  disease called Degenerative Myelopathy in our gene pool.  This has been well known in Australia for some time, but was not routinely tested for in the United States.

Second, a rare color of Australian Terrier was born.  While our breed has three acceptable standard colors (Red, Sandy, and Blue and Tan), when this puppy was born it was a color that could only be described as "Chocolate".  It was brown with tan points.  Genetic testing revealed that this puppy was actually brown and tan.  Where most Australian terriers carry black markers, this puppy had brown, with a brown nose, brown paw pads, and a brown jacket instead of black or blue.

Third, I began a journey to truly understand the colors of our breed.  While I knew that the accepted colors are Red, Sandy, and Blue and Tan, I still had so many questions....  What is a Sandy?  What makes it different than a red?  I've heard so many different answers to this question from those who feel they are experts that I have to conclude that if a Sandy color actually exists, nobody really knows what makes it different than a red.    What do we consider blue in our Blue and Tan color?  In the dog world the word blue gets applied to a few different genetic traits, and in many of our dogs, blue looks like just plain black to me.  Other words get thrown around routinely too like "Smut" and "Creeping Tan" ....these things are undesirable, but what causes them?

After these events it became very clear to me that there is so much that I don't know, and that there is so much that even the experts in our breed don't know.

Among the many discussions that I had, some were with Dr. Blake Balilif PhD of Paw Print Genetics in Spokane WA.  He is very interested in helping us to better understand our breed, and after consulting with the CEO of Paw Print Genetics, Lisa Shaffer, he has offered a special deal on some testing.  I'd like to leverage that to help us all understand our breed better.

The Testing Offer

First, I want to say that anyone who has a purebred Australian Terrier can take advantage of this offer.  Doing so does not mean that you are required to participate in my study, and the results of the testing will not be shared with me in any way unless you share them with me because you want to participate.

Second, I want to say that I in no way benefit from you taking advantage of this testing offer.  The cost of this is so low that Paw Print genetics is essentially doing this testing at cost, so they are basically not seeing any benefit either.  The purpose of this offer is to gain knowledge, not profit.

So here is the testing offer.  Paw Print Genetics is offering to perform an augmented Canine HealthCheck Panel for anyone who orders a Canine HealthCheck kit from them.  This panel normally includes testing for over 150 diseases and traits found in a wide variety of breeds.  It includes testing for Degenerative Myelopathy, and all varieties of Von Willebrand disease, both of which have been identified in our breed, plus a multitude of tests that have never been tested for in our breed on any large scale.  Testing these may reveal things that will heighten our knowledge of our breed.  Dr Ballif says "In the past, we have found some mutations in diseases that were previously unsuspected because no one had ever looked before." You can see a full list of the tests normally offered at https://www.caninehealthcheck.com/results/targets/

The HealthCheck will include all 150+ tests.  On the site, if you select Australian Terrier it will only show you the test for Degenerative myelopathy, but that does not mean DM will be the only thing tested for.

In addition to performing this Healthcheck, Paw Print Genetics will also perform coat color testing of several known traits.  These will include the A, B, D, E, Em, K, and even the "As" Loci tests.  The results of these tests will be sent to you by email, and you will be asked to send photos of your dog to Dr. Ballif so that he can help correlate coat colors with genotype.

To Summarize, you will get:

1. The Canine HealthCheck of over 150 different health traits

2. A coat color panel that includes all the traits that will tell you why your Australian Terrier is the color that they are and will also reveal any hidden recessive traits like brown, dilute, or creeping tan.

I've ordered a lot of genetic testing on my Australian Terriers and I can tell you that it has cost me $185 just to get a full coat color panel and test for DM.  There are some better deals out there, but I have not seen one that even gets close to the offer being made by paw print for this study.

From now, until May 31st 2018, Paw Print Genetics will offer this augmented Canine HealthCheck for $95/kit + shipping

To get this testing...

1. Go to https://www.caninehealthcheck.com/orders/select-products/

2. Enter the number of kits that you would like to order and then click "Add to Cart"

3.  Enter your Customer Information and Shipping Information, then click continue. (If you are trying to participate from outside of the U.S. there is a link here that you can use to contact then for assistance).

4. Enter the Discount Code ATBG95, then click Apply. (You will see an "Australian Terrier Breeder Group" discount get applied)

5. Complete your order by entering your payment information, clicking continue, and then, on the next page, checking the box to agree to the terms and disclaimers, and then clicking on "Place Order."  I ordered 3 kits to start.  It cost $297 including shipping.

It's a great deal even if you don't choose to participate in my study, but I hope you will choose to participate.

The Study

There needs to be a reason for all of this testing.  As breeders, testing our individual breeding stock can greatly help us to understand where we are already in good shape and where we have room for improvements.  By compiling that information, It can also help us as a community to better understand where information garnered from before the time of genetic testing might be incorrect and in need of some updating. 

If nothing else, please take advantage of the testing offer from Paw Print Genetics.  You can do that without participating in my study.

I am going to collect any official test results that anyone is willing to share with me and see if I can determine any trends, identify what actually could define the sandy color, and provide any other insights that I can.  I am doing this for the breed and I hope that anyone reading this will be able to rise above other concerns.  I welcome anyone who wants to participate.  To help me with this, I am asking that everyone who reads this help our breed by doing the following

If you have already performed any genetic testing on your Australian Terriers at labs other than Paw Print Genetics...

Send the following to me  at ATGeneticsStudy@gmail.com:

1. Copies of the official testing results for the tests that have been performed on your Australian Terrier.

2. A pedigree for your Australian Terrier showing at least 3 generations.  More is acceptable and preferred.

3. Well Lit (Preferably Daylight Lit) pictures, of your Australian Terrier from two different angles.  These should be a side profile photo, showing your entire Australian Terrier, and a close up front facing photo of your Australian terrier.  Please also provide the age of the Australian Terrier in the photo at the time that the photo was taken.  Please see the examples below.

If you have not performed any genetic testing on your Australian Terriers, or if you would like to contribute more information that is not covered by previous genetic testing...

1. Please order a Canine HealthCheck Kit following the instructions above.

2. Please make your testing publicly available on Paw Prints Genetics by selecting that option in your paw prints account.

     a. Send the following to me  at ATGeneticsStudy@gmail.com:

          1. Copies of the official testing results for the tests that have been performed on your Australian Terrier.

          2. A pedigree for your Australian Terrier showing at least 3 generations.  More is acceptable and preferred.

          3. Well Lit (Preferably Daylight Lit) pictures, of your Australian Terrier from two different angles.  These should be a side profile photo, showing your entire Australian Terrier, and a close up front facing photo of your Australian terrier.  Please also provide the age of the Australian Terrier in the photo at the time that the photo was taken.  Please see the examples below.

                                                

If you have testing, but are uncomfortable sharing any specific result, please send me what you are comfortable sharing.

When I have results from at least 20 Australian Terriers I will begin putting them together into some type of format where they can be viewed and reviewed by our community.  Anyone who wishes to participate is welcome.  The intent here is to gain knowledge and be transparent in our findings.  That is what will help our breed the most.

Read my thoughts on the Genetics of the Australian Terrier Coat color by downloading and reading this article I have written.