ISCGB Interim CA Breeding Protocol

If you are new to the Spinone or are not familiar with Cerebellar Ataxia (CA), please take the time to learn about this FATAL disease in the Italian Spinone. It occurs when 2 dogs who are carriers of CA are bred together. Statistically 1 in 4 puppies will be affected and have to be euthanased around 9 months of age. A further 2 in 4 puppies will themselves be carriers and can pass this on if bred from, so even in a small litter it is highly likely that 1 or more puppies will be impacted.

Since 2008 we have been fortunate to have a DNA test which took many years and £££ to develop. The AHT were the only lab to develop the test after finding the gene responsible and since their demise this test has not been available. We are expecting it to be offered again by the former AHT Canine Genetics team once they have set up their new organisation in Cambridge. Unfortunately this is taking longer than expected so we have approached 4 other laboratories to ask about alternatives.

Although many breeders have decided not to breed at present, due to the uncertainty and restrictions as a result of the COVID pandemic, some still are. For those breeders and their puppy customers, we would like to provide a TEMPORARY breeding protocol to minimise the risk of producing CA affected or CA carrier puppies. As soon as a test becomes available we will revert to breeding from Tested parents only.

Please take extra care when checking the CA status of an IMPORTED dog with a view to breeding, unless the imported dog itself is TESTED CLEAR (ask for a copy of the certificate). Relatively few breeders outside the UK have tested for CA and it is highly unlikely an imported dog would be cleared by parentage. A recently imported dog (since late 2019) will almost certainly not have been tested.

The gene responsible for the disease can be produced with a mutation. This means you should only breed from dogs who are either Tested Clear or Deduced Clear by Parentage within 3 generations of a Clear test. This is the maximum period recommended by the AHT for retesting. It is quite difficult to understand the Deduced Clear by Parentage concept so here are a couple of pedigrees that will help explain it.

If you are still unsure of the status of a dog you wish to breed with, the ISCGB health team are happy to check this out for you. Please send your contact details and the Registered name of the dog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will aim to respond quickly.

We will also be trying to update all dogs on the website with their CA status but these will take a little while to work through.

The chart below shows the relative risk when breeding dogs that are Deduced Clear By Parentage.

Example 1 outlined in blue – The mother and father of the litter are both Tested Clear (0 gens). This shows the lowest risk of 0.

Example 2 outlined in brown – The mother is Clear by Parentage at 1 generation and the father is Clear by Parentage at 2 generations. The box where 1 gens and 2 gens meet shows a risk of 3.

Example 3 outlined in black – The mother and father are both Clear by Parentage at 3 generations. The box where 3 gens and 3 gens meet shows a risk of 6. This is a higher risk because both parents are further from a Tested Clear ancestor and the risk of a mutation increases with each generation.

If you have any questions please contact the ISCGB health team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..