Spongiform Leucoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM)

£48.00 Incl. VAT

Find out if your Border Terrier carries Spongiform Leucoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM) at CAGT.

Categories ,
Turnaround 1-2 weeks
OMIA No OMIA entry
Aliases , ,

Results from this test will be reported as detailed in the Registry Reporting list.


Part of the official UK Kennel Club testing scheme in Border Terrier

Spongiform Leukoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM) is a hereditary disease of Border Terriers, previously known as shaking puppy syndrome.  When puppies begin to stand and attempt to walk, they show an uncontrollable shaking of their hind limbs. As the puppies grow, the shaking affects the entire body and their coordination is poor. Most pups are euthanized due to a poor quality of life, but there are reports of dogs improving with intensive nursing care.

Shaking puppy syndrome has been observed in a number of different breeds. However, SLEM  in the Border terrier is genetically distinct and, as far as we know, not found in any other breed.

Research into the genetic basic of this disease is in the final stages at the Canine Genetics Centre. Therefore the underlying variant that form the basis of our test has not yet been published. All evidence to date, including research and previous testing results, suggests that the variant we test is associated with SLEM.

Autosomal Recessive

The variant that we think causes SLEM in the Border terrier is recessive. This means that dogs that carry two copies of the mutation (homozygotes) will almost certainly develop SLEM during their lives. Dogs that carry a single copy of the mutation (also known as carriers or heterozygotes) will not develop SLEM as a result of the mutation, but they will pass the mutation onto about half of any offspring they have. Breeding dogs that will not develop SLEM should be the breeder’s priority, with a reduction in mutation frequency within the whole breed being the secondary, longer-term target.

Carriers can be bred from safely, provided they are mated to a dog that has also been tested and is clear of the SLEM mutation (i.e. carry no copies of the mutation). If a carrier is mated to a clear dog approximately half of the resulting puppies will also be carriers, so should be tested themselves prior to breeding. Breeding carriers to tested, clear dogs is safe, in terms of avoiding dogs affected with SLEM, and will help to maintain the genetic diversity of a breed. It is therefore encouraged, particularly in the first few generations following the availability of a new genetic test, so that other desirable characteristics and traits can be preserved before the frequency of the disease mutation within the breed is gradually reduced.

Gene TBC
Variant TBC
Assay Type Variant Specific
Inheritance Autosomal Recessive
Severity Severe: The welfare of affected animals is significantly affected and animals are either not born alive or life expectancy is significantly reduced.

Martin-Vaquero P, da Costa RC, Simmons JK, et al. (2012) A novel spongiform leukoencephalomyelopathy in Border Terrier puppies. J Vet Intern Med. 26(2): 402-406. DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2011.00873.x.

*Research is ongoing at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre