Factor VII is a protein that helps blood clot. In Deerhounds, the gene that produces Factor VII exists in two forms: a “normal” form and a “variant” form. Factor VII made by the variant form does not work. Each Deerhound has two copies of the Factor VII gene, one from each parent. Individuals with even one normal gene make plenty of normal Factor VII. But those with two variant genes do not and are Factor VII-deficient. Factor-VII-deficient dogs are at greater risk of bleeding than normal or carrier dogs for this condition, but not all affected dogs bleed. Factor-VII-affected animals can range from being asymptomatic, even during surgery or trauma, to suffering from life-threatening bleeding, even from routine surgery or what seems to be minor trauma.
We don’t know the percentage of Factor-VII-deficient Deerhounds that have bleeding episodes, and, unfortunately, the only way to know whether a genetically affected dog is going to bleed is when it starts to bleed during surgery or as the result of trauma. Fortunately, if an affected dog does bleed, most episodes can have a happy ending if the veterinarian working on the case is prepared. However, if the veterinarian is not prepared, then the dog could die. Even with a prepared vet, the episode can be risky as well as costly in money and anxiety. Therefore, the Health & Genetics Committee recommends the following:
- That a breeder should know the Factor VII status of his/her breeding stock.
- That anyone transferring a puppy or dog to someone else should provide information about the puppy’s/dog’s actual or potential Factor VII status. This could be the actual Factor VII status (if known) or whether there is a risk of the puppy being affected based on the Factor VII status of one or both parents. In the event that a puppy’s Factor VII status isn’t known, or there is a risk that the puppy may be affected, then it is even more important that the person receiving the puppy be notified of a potential problem so the puppy can be tested and, if affected, treated with an abundance of caution if surgery is needed or trauma occurs.
- That anyone with a Factor VII-deficient Deerhound should notify their veterinarian, make sure the affected status is reflected clearly in their dog’s record, and make sure that the correct supplies are on hand in case of a bleeding episode.
- That breeders should strive to not produce Factor-VII-deficient dogs. Carrier or even affected dogs should be bred if they are worthy, but they should be bred to normal/clear dogs whenever possible.
- That no dog should be eliminated from the gene pool because of Factor VII status.
- That if an affected bitch is bred, the breeder inform their vet in the event that a c-section is needed.
Factor VII should be a consideration in every breeding decision, but eliminating dogs from the gene pool because of Factor VII status is strongly discouraged. Our gene pool is too small and the chance too large that we may lose a lot of valuable traits for us to only breed clear to clear. Breeders should breed affected and carrier dogs to Factor VII clear dogs whenever possible.
The harder we work together to produce more dogs with two normal Factor VII genes without reducing our gene pool, the more such dogs we will have to choose from in the future, which will ultimately improve both the health of our breed AND our gene pool.