02575-MOU: Genetic Basis of Exercise-Induced Collapse in Border Collie Related Breeds

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $56,456
James R. Mickelson, PhD; University of Minnesota
January 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020

Sponsor(s): Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, Border Collie Society of America

Breed(s): Border Collie, Australian Shepherd
Research Program Area: Neurology
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An episodic nervous system disorder triggered by strenuous exercise, termed Border Collie collapse (BCC), exists in Border Collies, mixes, and related breeds, including Australian Shepherds, Kelpies, Bearded Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Whippets. BCC is recognized throughout the world and is observed in dogs used for working stock, participating in agility and fly-ball competitions, or repeatedly retrieving a ball.  From our work with breed associations, field trial groups, and appearances at competitions, we estimate 5 - 10% prevalence in working Border Collies, and a somewhat lower frequency in Australian Shepherds.  We have characterized the clinical and physiological signs of BCC to enable accurate phenotyping and the inclusion and exclusion of cases and control dogs from both breeds, as is necessary for a genetic study. Our global hypothesis is that BCC is a moderately heritable polygenic disorder, and our objectives are to define its underlying genetic architecture, heritability, and potentially genomic loci, through computational analyses of dense whole-genome DNA marker genotyping data.  Knowledge of the fraction of the BCC phenotype determined by genetics, as opposed to environment and genotype x environment interaction, and whether major gene mutations are likely to exist, will inform veterinarians, and working/stock dog communities of the true nature of this condition. Future research strategies would be the acquisition and genotyping of validation cohorts, and the identification of a panel of highly informative markers to predict risk in susceptible Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, related breeds, and their crosses. 

This research is co-funded through the collaborative efforts of the Border Collie Society of America and AKC Canine Health Foundation.


Norton, E. M., Minor, K. M., Taylor, S. M., McCue, M. E., & Mickelson, J. R. (2021). Heritability and Genomic Architecture of Episodic Exercise-Induced Collapse in Border Collies. Genes, 12(12), 1927. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes12121927

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