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Lotus Syndrome

Lotus is a fatal syndrome.
A puppy born with Lotus syndrome has no possibility to survive. Some are stillborn.

They lack suckling instincts, have trouble breathing.
Some of these babies share a similar physical appearance; the hind limbs are tucked and folded under the belly and the front limbs are stretched underneath the chest with the wrists touching. The back may or may not be twisted (scoliosis) and the baby may or may not have trouble breathing. Some may not show signs of "deformed" joints, but may only have trouble breathing. Common to all affected babies is the lack of vigorous movement.

In the Silken Windhound breed, we have termed this occasional birth defect "lotus syndrome". The appearance of the hind limbs often appears to be in the yoga "lotus" position. Siblings of pups with this syndrome, who do not show signs of "lotus", live normal lives with no related health issues. Lotus syndrome can show up in just one puppy in a litter, more than one, or most frequently, none at all.

University of Pennsylvania researchers believe that the "lotus syndrome" found in our Silken Windhound population (as well as that of many other dog breeds) is the same disorder as "fetal akinesia deformation sequence" (FADS) in humans. Children with FADS show the same clinical features as the lotus pups, including the inability to breathe properly. While the exact cause for this disease is unknown at this time, several mechanisms have been proposed. We are willing to look at all of them in Silken Windhounds.

All Silken Windhound breeders in USA send puppies that are stillborn or die to the scientists of the University of Pennsylvania, regardless if Lotus is suspected or not. This way we know for sure if a pup was suffering from Lotus or not. It also provides the scientists with "normal" puppies, that died for other reasons, such as oxygen deprivation due to a prolonged delivery for example, and those puppies are needed as well, to establish a normal base line to compare with. It also saves us from the complicated moral dilemma that would arise if the scientists said they need healthy pups for test purposes ...

We hope this will help the researchers to find the DNA markers that will provide us with a DNA test to spot carriers of this gene, in order to breed it out.

Due to transportation restrictions regarding tissue samples and dead animals, the breeders outside USA are unable to participate in this cause.

During 2001 and 2002, the Silken Windhound breeder community was in despair over Lotus. We have no way of knowing if a dog is a carrier of the Lotus gene unless this dog is bred to another carrier and actually produce Lotus puppies. We poured over pedigrees, made charts, tried to guess who might be a carrier and who might not. To no avail. We knew the answer to our problems would be a DNA marker test, but we were painfully aware that we did not have the millions and millions of dollars that would be required to engage scientists in the quest of finding these markers.

We were lucky enough that Gloria Hyland-Fisher, kennel Cool Run ran into one of the scientists at the University of Pennsylvania that studies FADS in humans. To make a long story short - that is how we came to be included in their studies and finally have a chance of finding out more about Lotus, and hopefully get a DNA marker test that will allow us to avoid Lotus litters in the future. It will give us the means to breed this horrible threat to our puppies out of the breed altogether.

As of now, we still have no way of identifying a Lotus gene carrier unless this dog produce Lotus pups. Until the DNA marker test is available, all we can do is breed and pray ...






Page updated February 22, 2008


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