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The Wind-Morgan Program for Diagnosis of Heritable Joint Disease in the Labrador Retriever

In Association with
The School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis
Department of Radiological Sciences

Administered by
The Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals (GDC)
P.O.  Box 222, Davis, CA 95617

The Wind-Morgan Program, initiated in August of 1990, provides a mechanism for othropedic improvement of the Labrador Retriever. The Labrador Retriever is a breed renowned for its versatility, working enthusiastically in the field, excelling at obedience trials, providing assistance to the disabled and giving companionship to many. A cheery disposition and physical soundness are essential for the breed to perform the duties for which it has been cultivated.  Labrador Retriever fanciers have been aware of the problem of hip dysplasia in the breed for many years. During the past 15 years it has become apparent that severe problems also exist with heritable disease of the shoulder (OCD), elbow (dysplasia), and hock (OCD) joints, often resulting in crippling lameness. Great frustration results from the discovery that such a disorder exists in puppies produced from dogs and bitches selected as breeding stock after seemingly careful evaluation of their conformation and personalities. The Wind-Morgan program offers a route by which fanciers of the breed can make a more educated scrutiny of potential breeding stock, while at the same time collecting data for the genetic analysis of these heritable disorders.

The presence of these diseases is not always obvious because the lameness may be sublte, or, actually present in both limbs. One reason these disorders have become so common in the Labrador is that affected individuals without obvious lameness have been used in breeding programs. Just as has been learned from the evaluation of the pelvis for hip dysplasia, the best current method to diagnose the presence of elbow dysplasia, shoulder OCD and hock OCD is radiography (x-rays). The abscence of these diseases in the elbows, shoulders, and hocks can usually be accurately determined at 12 months of age. An evaluation of the hip joint can be made at the same time. Preliminary evaluations of the elbows, shoulders, hocks and hips can be made as early as 6 months of age, if desired. Dogs showing signs of lameness can be evaluated at any age. The inclusion of older dogs in this study is highly encouraged. Age related changes in joints are distinctly different from those changes caused by developmental disorders such as dysplasias and OCD. To date, several veteran Labrador Retrievers have successfully passed the Wind-Morgan evaluation.

Radiographic views will be made as follows: a single lateral view of each shoulder, two lateral views of each elbow, one tightly flexed and one at 120 degrees, two conventional ventrodorsal view of the hips, and a plantodorsal (PD) and lateral view of each hock. These radiographs can be taken without anesthesia, however, in the exuberant Labrador, mild tranquilization facilitates positioning. Radographs can be made by any veterinary practitioner or technician, and should be submitted to the Wind-Morgan program for evaluation with a completed application form and a copy of the dog's three generation pedigree.

A fee of $35.00 is charged, covering a one time $10.00 registration fee for an individual dog, and $25.00 fee for the evaluation of all four joint sites. If an individual is found to be normal in all four joints at or beyond the age of 12 months, a Wind-Morgan number will be issued. If the individual is found to be affected in any joint by heritable disease, the $35.00 fee is refunded, encouraging the inclusion of affected individuals in the study. Reevaluation of an individual examined previously before the age of 12 months does not require payment of the $10.00 registration fee. If a diagnosis of normalcy cannot be made due to inadequate x-ray positioning or exposure, or because of the presence of suspicious but not diagnostic changes, repeat x-rays will be requested within a specified time frame. No additional charge will be made for evaluation of these subsequent films.

Copies of the evaluations will be made to both the dog's owner and to the veterinarian responsible for taking the films. Additionally, results of the study will be entered into the computer base at the Institute for Genetic Disease Control (GDC), for inclusion in their open registry for genetic and statistical analysis. The x-rays will be archived at the GDC in Davis, California. Interested individuals can obtain more information from GDC concerning an individual dog or its relatives, to determine more about the genotype that a prospective dire or dam may pass on to its offspring, by telephoning GDC at (916) 756-6773.

The Wind-Morgan program will provide assistance to fanciers of Labrador Retrievers through educational seminars for breeders and their veterinarians, as well as individual counseling concerning the treatment of these disorders in affected individuals. As data accumulates, genetic counseling will become available through GDC. To facilitate the inclusion of numerous dogs in the study, the University of California sponsors weekend x-ray clinics to provide radiography at a minimal expense. Interested veterinarians or breeders may contact the program concerning organization of x-ray clinics in other parts of the country.

To obtain further information concening the Wind-Morgan program, contact:

Dr. Autumn Davidson
Small Animal Clinic, VMTH
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

Films should be mailed to:

Dr. Joe Morgan, Dr. Alida Wind, or Dr. Autumn Davidson
c/o GDC
P.O. Box 222
Davis, CA 95617