Message from Steve Dean 19 May 2017

'The AHT have sent an update about the Give a Dog a Genome project and the current position regarding the sample submitted for the Border Terrier. However this is out of date as far as the timing of research into SLEM is concerned. Ronnie and I have, in the interim, met with Catherine Mellersh and broadly agreed plans aimed at accelerating the identification of candidate mutations related to SLEM in Border Terriers. In addition, we have also discussed the possibility of AHT acquiring suitable samples from specialist confirmed cases of CECS with the aim of commencing a study seeking to identify gene mutations associated with CECS. In both cases, we are waiting for a research plan from the AHT before committing to this research. An important part of this will be the funding required and we will provide further information to the breed clubs and other interested parties once these plans have been received and further discussed.

As a separate request I have also asked the AHT to ensure the Border Terrier is included in plans for a wider based study to identify possible genetic factors associated with epilepsy in dogs'.

Steve Dean (Breed Health Co-ordinator)


Dear Steve,

As you already know, we selected a Border Terrier with Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM aka Shaking puppy syndrome) to be whole genome sequenced as part of Give a Dog a Genome (GDG). The sequencing has now been completed by the external laboratory and the data has been made available for us to download.

 What happens next?

The amount of data generated for each sample is enormous, around 80-90 Gb. To put that into perspective, data from only 10 dogs will fill up the average modern personal computer, and the processing of the data will use the full capacity of the computer for months. As a result it takes time (about 1 week) and a great deal of computing power to download and process the data so that it is ready for analysis. Once we complete this stage the Border Terrier SLEM data will be ready for further analysis.

The data will be added to the genome bank, and will begin contributing to studies in other breeds immediately. In addition, the data will be made available to other scientists for use in their own studies, and your breed has therefore made a vital contribution to genetic research affecting the welfare of dogs worldwide.

Analysis of the data to attempt to identify any variants that contribute to SLEM in Border Terrier will take far longer. Please be aware that it is entirely possible that we will not be able to identify any variants that contribute to this condition, at all.

You will continue to receive any general GDG updates, but apart from that we will contact you only if there is something specific to the Border Terrier to report. If you don’t hear from us, it means that we are still in the analysis stage and have not found anything of significance.

I would once again like to thank you and the breed community for participating in Give a Dog a Genome.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me on


Yours faithfully,

Louise and the rest of the Give a Dog a Genome Team

Louise Burmeister 
Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7UU