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Is disc disease inherited?

The Lucas Terrier club has become concerned about a number of the breed developing intervertebral disc disease. After consulting Dr Clare Rusbridge it was proposed that they would recommend an (unproven) protocol used by Danish and Finnish Dachshund clubs (for more information click here). In this scheme radiographs are obtained of the dog’s spinal – specifically regions C1-C7 and T11-L7. If the dog has no or one calcified intervertebral discs it is considered to be ‘fit for breeding’.

A Danish study looked at the inheritance of disc calcification in the dachshund. A strong correlation was found in the occurrence of disc calcification between offspring and mean parent (P < 0.001) and between offspring and dams (P < 0.005) on an either/or scale. Statistically significant estimates of heritability of 0.60 and 0.87 were found based on the offspring-sire relationship using the total score and three-class scale, respectively. Higher correlation estimates were found based on the dam-offspring relationship than based on the sire-offspring relationship, suggesting an effect of maternal environmental factors

Reference: Jensen VF, Christensen KA. Inheritance of disc calcification in the dachshund. J Vet Med A Physiol Pathol Clin Med. 2000 Aug;47(6):331-40.
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Intraoperative view of removal of a dermoid sinus – a cyst associated with the skin and attached to the spinal cord.
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