Paroxysmal Dyskinesia in Border Terriers: Clinical, Epidemiological, and Genetic Investigation

Paroxysmal Dyskinesia in Border Terriers: Clinical, Epidemiological, and Genetic Investigations.



In the last decade, a disorder characterized by episodes of involuntary movements and dystonia has been recognized in Border Terriers.


To define clinical features of paroxysmal dyskinesia (PD) in a large number of Border Terriers and to study the genetics of the disease.


110 affected and 128 unaffected client-owned Border Terriers.


A questionnaire regarding clinical characteristics of PD was designed at Utrecht University and the University of Helsinki. Thirty-five affected Border Terriers underwent physical examination and blood testing (hematology and clinical biochemistry). Diagnostic imaging of the brain was performed in 17 affected dogs and electroencephalograms (EEG) between episodes were obtained in 10 affected dogs. A genomewide association study (GWAS) was performed with DNA of 110 affected and 128 unaffected dogs.


One hundred forty-seven questionnaires were included in the study. The most characteristic signs during episodes were dystonia, muscle fasciculations, and falling over. The majority of owners believed that their dogs remained conscious during the episodes. A beneficial effect of anti-epileptic therapy was observed in 29 of 43 dogs. Fifteen owners changed their dogs‘ diet to a hypoallergenic, gluten-free diet, and all reported reasonable to good improvement of signs. Clinical examinations and diagnostic test results were unremarkable. The GWAS did not identify significantly associated chromosome regions.


The survey results and EEG studies provided further evidence that the observed syndrome is a PD rather than epilepsy. Failure to achieve conclusive results by GWAS indicates that inheritance of PD in Border Terriers probably is complex.

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