In this month’s newsletter, I have decided to provide some helpful information about ichthyosis (ICT). ICT is a condition of the skin that results in flaking. In mild cases, it can produce a slight amount of dandruff. In severe cases, the skin can become hardened and scaly. ICT is very common among English Cream Golden Retrievers, with the majority of dogs being either affected or carriers of the gene.
It is safe to say that most breeders do not test for ICT. If they do not test, your risk of getting an affected puppy is quite high.
In most ICT cases, the quality of life for the dog does not seem to be impacted. The shedding can be frustrating to the owner as the flakes end up on the floor. It is possible through high quality food and a high oil diet to reduce the symptoms dramatically. In some cases, it may disappear completely. If you have an affected dog, we recommend you consider the diet that we give our goldens. You can read more about this on the “Raising a Golden” page of our website
This is why it is important to test, as this is the only way to know for certain whether your dog is affected or not. We test our goldens by sending a blood sample (saliva is also accepted) to Animal Genetics. The cost is $45.00.
There are some people who have become fanatic about ICT and focus on this condition almost to the exclusion of other genetic factors, quality, and pedigrees. This is particularly true in the United States. Breeders in Europe are quite alarmed by this trend, as there are many more important genetic factors. ICT should be considered, but is quite far down the list. I like to remind these individuals that the last few World Winners in Europe have been affected by ICT. The gene pool would be narrowed too much by exclusively focusing on this factor when making breeding choices. There is a balanced approach that I would like to recommend.
It is important to know that ICT carriers also do not flake. They have one gene that is clear and one that is affected. This result is called a carrier. If you are looking for a pet only and not for breeding, a carrier will work perfectly. You can also produce a carrier by breeding an affected dog to one that is clear. With this consideration in mind, if there is an affected dog of exceptional quality, they are worth keeping to breed with clear stock. In other words, don’t discard a dog based only on their ICT status. However, begin to breed ICT out of your lines slowly and intentionally. I’ve included a chart so you can see how ICT works genetically.
What is the status of ICT at Lake Country Goldens?
All of our goldens are tested. We are pleased to have a number that are ICT clear. We have a few carriers and one that is affected (no symptoms because of our excellent diet). We breed our carriers and one affected girl to a clear male. Again, our top priority is other health clearances, personality, and excellent show quality. However, we don’t want to send you home with a flaking puppy. We are particularly excited that our male “Epic” is not only ICT clear, but that he scored 95% PennHIP with great elbows, heart, eyes, and PRA-1/PRA-2 results. Click here to check Epic’s page on our website.
We typically sell our ICT carrier puppies as pets or at a lower price than our clear ones. We hold back our ICT clear puppies in most cases for breeding homes. Their price is higher. Again, for a pet owner, ICT carrier is a perfectly fine result as there will not be flaking.
If you have further questions about ICT, feel free to contact me.