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17 Copper Toxicosis in Bedlington Terriers

Bart van de Sluis, Cisca Wijmenga, Bernard A. van Oost


It is believed that the Bedlington terrier was derived from the rough-coated Scotch terrier. In the late 18th century, a number of these dogs were brought from Scotland to England, where a strain of terriers was bred in Northumberland (northeast England), known as “the land of the Bedlington terrier.” A dog called Flint, born in either 1782 or 1792, is believed to be one of the early founders of the breed, and most pedigrees of today’s Bedlington terriers can be traced back to Flint (Bounden 1990). Originally the Bedlington terrier was a breed for companionship and work: The dogs were used for hunting rabbits, hares, and even rats, but lately the Bedlington terrier has become a popular show breed.

Many dog breeds are afflicted with hereditary defects, and the Bedlington terrier is no exception; the Bedlington terrier has a particularly high prevalence of copper toxicosis. The exact reason for this is not known, but often the enrichment of a certain disease in a specific breed can be explained by a founder or popular sire effect and/or population bottlenecks (Ostrander and Kruglyak 2000). The high frequency of copper toxicosis in Bedlington terriers has been observed worldwide, including in Australia (Robertson et al. 1983), Belgium (Rothuizen et al. 1999), Finland (Eriksson 1983), Germany (Rothuizen et al. 1999), the Netherlands (Meulenaar et al. 1983), the U.K. (Kelly et al. 1984), and the U.S. (Hardy and Stevens 1978). Estimates of the incidence of copper toxicosis vary from 34% in the U.K. (Herrtage et al....

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