Health Topics

Kennel clubs Dog Health Test Search

Any health problems you have found and which can be recorded for the breed please contact the Club Health coordinators

Paul Perks

Health Matters.

MEDICAL: Please Note: Articles pertaining to health related topics are for information only. Readers should seek the advice of a relevant practitioner before attempting to diagnose or administer any medication. Mention of any product or procedure should not be seen as an endorsement for said product or procedure.

10/11/2008 We are pleased to announce that a DNA test for canine hyperuricosuria (huu), the production of high levels of urate in the urine that can result in bladder stones, is now available through the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis. The test is $50 per dog






on18th Feb 2009 DNA testing became available in the UK

HUU (Hyperuricosuria) details at;

A.H.T. Animal Health Trust.




All that is required to have your dog tested is to take a cheek swab sample. We urge all RBT owners to apply for the swab and then we can move one step further to eradicate this health problem out of the breed which can be only be achieved by sensible breeding programmes.The club is here for the RBT’s health and its well being. The breed is relatively small in numbers here in the UK so please test especially your male RBT.


When you have had your RBT tested would you please send your results to both;


Tom Rigby   [email protected]  

Pat Moncur  [email protected]  

LATEST NEWS Urate Stones-Uric Acid Excretion

Latest News update 01/09/2014

Urate Urolithiasis Paper Published and Genetic Test will be offered by Dec.1


I am happy to say that the paper about the urate urolithiasis mutation is out!!! This paper is the initial study identifying the mutation. The paper can be viewed, for free, on PLoS genetics





***This does not include the allele frequencies of the mutation in Black Russian Terriers and Bulldogs (that will be the next publication).***


Please feel free to let your breed clubs know about it.


The genetic test should be offered through the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Lab by Dec. 1. Please refer to their website for updates



The article has been in the news, I thought I’d share with you: Official UC Davis Press Release:




Gene Mutation in Dalmatians Sheds Light on Kidney Stones in Humans


Finding explained high levels of uric acid in dog breed US News & World Report, (HealthDay News





Gene Responsible for Bladder Stones in Dalmatians Found Veterinary Practice News (online)






I will notify you once the allele frequency paper is published, Thank you all for all the help

Nili Karmi Vet Student, Class of 2010 Genetics Ph.D. candidate Dept. of Population Health and Reproduction


School of Veterinary Medicine, University of CA in Davis, Davis, CA 95616 Tel. (530) 754-7289


Latest News update 01/09/2014

Dear Bulldog and Black Russian Terrier enthusiasts,


We are pleased to announce that a DNA test for canine hyperuricosuria (huu), the production of high levels of urate in the urine that can result in bladder stones, is now available through the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis.

The test is $50 per dog and a cheek swab sample is required. Results are available within five to ten business days. Information regarding sample submission can be found online at




The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory is a non-profit service laboratory. All proceeds from the huu test will be directly applied to further research on canine inherited diseases


The available DNA test is based on research that was conducted in our laboratory at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. A scientific manuscript detailing the identification of the mutation was published November 7, 2008 in the journal Public Library of Science (PLos) Genetics. These results are publicly available at




The graduate student in the laboratory that has been evaluating the mutation in Bulldogs and Black Russian Terriers, Nili Karmi, is continuing her work in this area. The allele frequency of the mutation in affected breeds will be reported in the near future. Knowing the allele frequency of the mutation in Bulldogs and Black Russian Terriers will better enable breeders to make educated breeding decisions with respect to this condition.

Included in RBT Club Newsletter 2011/2012HUU & HD




Stephen Long (Hotratz)

Health is always a main concern for any dog owner, and producing healthy puppies should be the top priority for any breeder.  The Russian Black Terrier is a generally healthy dog but like all pedigree dogs there are some health issues that can be associated with the breed.  Thankfully veterinary science has come a long way, particularly the field of genetics, and has equipped us with greater knowledge and various tests to help us to eradicate these potential problems.  To do our best for our breed the first step is to identify what health issues can be associated with the genetic make up of the RBT population.  We must be careful not to associate a particular health issue with the breed just because we’ve heard about a dog or dogs that have suffered this ailment.  Just as an example, you may know of a particular RBT that have become ill due to a heart condition, however unless such a condition presents itself in a statistically significant number of dogs within the breed the illness shouldn’t be viewed as a RBT issue, but rather a health issue that is as likely to happen if the dog were not a Russian Black Terrier.  We do see many breeders advertising that their dogs have passed six or seven health tests, but realistically several of these tests mean nothing if the issue being tested for is not a hereditary RBT condition… of course they pass, because the breed doesn’t suffer this ailment! What we need to focus on are the ailments specific to our breed… you don’t need to perform every test, just the appropriate ones! 


Two key health problems are known to present in RBTs, the first being Hyperuricosuria (HUU) commonly referred to as urate stones, and the second is Hip Dysplasia (HD) a physical issue associated with most large/giant breeds.  The current scientific evidence makes HUU relatively easy to explain and eventually eliminate from the breed as the gene that causes the problem has been identified and works as a simple recessive hereditary manner.  HD is more complex as it is thought to present itself due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors


Hyperuricosuria (HUU) is a hereditary abnormality that affects the body’s mode of eliminating waste protein.  This defect results in high levels of uric acid in the urine and ultimately causes the formation of solid, hard, urate stones in the kidneys and bladder.  These stones block the normal elimination of urine and cause severe pain and the risk of kidney failure and death.


The first sign of urate stones often presents with the dog having difficulty urinating or with resenting with cystitis. Symptoms will depend on where the stones occur and whether or not they cause a blockage. Their presence can be confirmed by ultrasound and/or x-rays. Only analysis of a removed stone can confirm it is made of urate.  The symptoms alone can equally be another type of urinary tract stone or urinary tract infection that can be observed in any breed or indeed human.


Thankfully a DNA test can show whether your RBT is affected by HUU, carries the defect, or is clear.  Affected dogs will have two copies of the HUU gene (HU/HU) and may develop urate stones.  Carriers (HU/N) have one copy of the gene and if bred may pass it on, however (theoretically) they should not suffer from stones.  Clear dogs (N/N) do not have the gene at all.  While testing is deemed absolutely necessary for breeders, it is also a good idea for owners of pet RBTs to screen their dogs for HUU.  Given the nature of the ailment it can be exacerbated or eased by diet so identifying if your RBT is at risk can help you adjust his or her diet early to potentially prevent or at least slow down  the onset of the problem.


The key to eliminating HUU from the Russian Black Terrier breed is to test all dogs prior to mating.   The ultimate aim is to produce all “HUU clear” puppies.  Due to the simple recessive hereditary  nature of the disorder we can predict the potential outcomes of matings from tested parents.  For  example, clear to clear will produce litters of all clear puppies; Clear to carriers will potentially  produce clear and carrier puppies, but none affected; and Carrier to carrier can potentially produce  clear, carrier and affected puppies.  For the welfare of our puppies we really shouldn’t purposefully  conduct matings that can potentially produce any affected offspring.  For a full list of the possible outcomes of matings see the chart below:














Dealing with Hip Dysplasia (HD) is an altogether more complicated affair.  HD is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors however there has been no single gene identified that predisposes one dog to HD over another.


The clinical signs of hip dysplasia are lameness, reluctance to rise or jump, shifting the weight to the forelimbs, loss of muscle mass on the rear limbs, and pain when the hips are manipulated.  Dogs may show clinical signs at any stage of development of the disease, although many dogs with hip dysplasia do not show overt clinical signs.



Some dogs are painful at 6 to 8 months of age but recover as they mature.  As the osteoarthritis progresses with age, some dogs may show clinical signs similar to people with arthritis such as lameness after unaccustomed exercise, lameness after prolonged confinement, and worse problems if they are overweight. (http://www.acvs.org)


For several years and in many breeds breeding dogs have been tested to assess their potential disposition towards HD by “Hip Scoring”; the idea being that by only breeding from dogs with healthy hips, they will pass on this positive trait to their offspring.   The British Veterinary Association “hip score” is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine radiographic tures of both hip joints.  The lower the score, the less the degree of dysplasia present. The minimum (best) score for each hip is zero and the maximum (worst) is 53, giving a range for the total of 0 to 106.   Different Registries have their own scoring systems that are comparable (see Table below)




E                    A-1                               0-4                                       Normal

G                    A-2                               5-10                                    Normal

F                    B-1                               11-18                                  Normal

B                    B-2                               19-25                                 Fast Normal

M                    C                                  26-35                            Noch Zugelassen

Mod               D                                  36-50                                 Mittlere

S                    E                                   51-106                              Schwere


There is still great debate however, as to the degree to which inherited factors “cause” HD, and also the reliability of individual Hip Score results in combating the issue.  Despite Hip Scoring being compulsory in many European registries, whereby all dogs must submit their results to the kennel club and have sufficiently good results before they are deemed eligible to breed, HD is still an issue among large breeds.  As a physical problem a dog bred from several generations of “good hips” can present with damaged hips due to poor diet and inappropriate exercise and conditions.  If scored relatively poorly can we say this dog has unsuitable genetic material to breed?  In the same manner a dog from parents with relatively poor hips if raised with great care can feasibly present with better hip scores than his parents when tested…his genetic material hasn’t improved just the physical condition.  Hence there is still great debate over this issue.  Of course it goes without saying that any dog in poor physical condition, hip or otherwise, should not be bred from, but more work needs to be conducted in to improving the knowledge around hip dysplasia.


As a rule of thumb, regardless of hereditary predisposition, all large breeds should be raised in a manner that optimises the healthy development of their joints and minimises damage.  This “good rearing” is often associated allowing free non-strenuous exercise of puppies to encourage muscle development while seriously limiting any forced exercise/walking and road-work.  During the developmental stage stairs and slippery floor surfaces should also be treated with caution, and of course appropriate diet is necessary.