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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Border Collie Collapse Study: University of Saskatchewan

(Copied from the Deltabluez blog...)
The Western College of Veterinary Medicine is conducting a very important study on Border Collie exercise induced collapse. They are looking for at least 5 affected dogs to test in a working situation on sheep. The tests will be conducted in part at our farm in Saskatchewan the last week of June. Further tests will be at the college. I am asking for this to be posted on provincial and Canadian websites. All participants will be treated confidentially. Funding is being sought to help with travel costs


A syndrome of Border Collie Collapse (BCC) is now recognized throughout North America, Europe and Australia. Border Collie breeder and breed association websites and newsletters list this syndrome as a prominent concern. BCC appears to be common in dogs used for working stock, as well as in dogs trained for agility or fly-ball competitions and pet dogs repeatedly retrieving a tennis ball. This syndrome has also been called malignant hyperthermia, heat intolerance, exercise-induced hyperthermia, canine stress syndrome and exercise-induced collapse. At this time, a presumptive diagnosis of BCC can only be made by eliminating all other causes of exercise intolerance and weakness. There is no specific test for the condition and no specific therapy can be recommended. .

Border Collies affected by BCC are normal at rest and seem healthy, but become abnormal after five to fifteen min of strenuous activity, particularly in warm weather. Most dogs develop a stiff, stilted gait with short strides characteristic of muscle weakness, and others become wobbly and then collapse. Some dogs develop a balance problem or are mentally abnormal during an episode, and a few dogs have died. Collapse episodes are often accompanied by excessive panting and severe hyperthermia that may be reported as heat stroke, but affected dogs usually recover within minutes, making that diagnosis unlikely. Owners commonly report that excitement and/or stress are important contributing factors to collapse. However, the clinical syndrome has not yet been completely characterized, so we are as yet uncertain whether BCC is a metabolic, muscular or even a nervous system disorder. Affected dogs are often unable to exercise, must be retired from competition and work, and are often euthanized. Some affected dogs have died during an episode of collapse.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Minnesota are working together to investigate BCC. This is the same team that characterized the syndrome of Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) in Labrador retrievers and other breeds, ultimately finding the causative mutation and developing a genetic test. We propose to use the same methodology: clinical tests and questionnaires to characterize and describe BCC so it can be recognized by veterinarians and dog owners, pedigree analysis to determine heritability, and analysis of DNA from affected and normal dogs for use in a whole genome association analysis with SNP markers to map chromosomal locations of BCC gene loci. Once the chromosomal loci are identified, candidate genes will be selected for sequencing and mutation identification. A BCC genetic test would greatly assist breeding programs, identify affected puppies before they are sold to stock working or competitive homes, and aid veterinarians in diagnoses and possible treatments.

We will be conducting clinical evaluations of normal Border Collies and Border Collies with BCC this summer. A number of clinical, blood and DNA tests will be performed, and then dogs will participate in a 10 minute exercise protocol. The exercise study will involve retrieving a tennis ball or working sheep in an outdoor pen (a series of continuous short outruns and fetches). Exercise will be halted at the first signs of gait or mentation abnormalities. A series of blood samples and nervous system tests will then be performed in the 2 hours after exercise. Affected dogs will also, within 7 days of the exercise, undergo a short general anesthesia for collection of a small muscle biopsy from a rear leg.

Please contact us if you are willing to have your dog participate in this study.

If you have a normal Border Collie who chases balls, contact Dr. Su (966-7126,

If you have a normal Border Collie who herds sheep, contact Bev Sommer, who is coordinating our field evaluation. (

If you have an affected Border Collie who chases balls, contact Dr. Taylor (966-7126,

If you have an affected Border Collie who herds sheep, contact Bev Sommer who is coordinating our field evaluation. (

If you are unable to participate at this time but you have an affected Border Collie and would be willing to provide us with a blood sample and fill out a questionnaire, please contact Dr. Taylor.


  1. If you have a mix/hybrid border collie/labrodor would gentic testing for BCC and EIC be separate or would you be able to use one test?

  2. I have a 2nd old working short haired BC that fits this BCC profile. I live in Australia. Do you have a contact number of anyone doing this same research in Australia? Please email me