Reducing the incidence of epileptic seizures in the Belgian Tervuren through selection

Prev Vet Med. 1998 Jan;33(1-4):251-9. doi: 10.1016/s0167-5877(97)00030-5.


There is growing evidence that idiopathic epilepsy in the Belgium Tervuren has a genetic foundation. Reducing the incidence of this disorder, which may afflict as much as 17% of the breed, will rely upon the wise selection of parents. Seizure data on 997 dogs from the American Belgian Tervuren Club were collected through questionnaires in which animals were classified into one of four mutually exclusive categories: 1) no seizures observed, 2) one seizure observed, 3) two to five seizures, and 4) more than five seizures. The analysis of this ordered data made use of a threshold model of Bayesian inference. Integration of posterior densities was accomplished through Gibbs sampling. Through this analysis we are able to predict that the offspring of the mating of two non-epileptic dogs has a probability of 0.99 of never suffering from a seizure. The offspring of the mating of two dogs who have each had 1 seizure has a predicted probability 0.58 of never suffering from a seizure. Prevention of this disease is best prescribed through the selection of non-epileptic dogs as parents of future generations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Breeding*
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dog Diseases / prevention & control
  • Dogs
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / prevention & control
  • Epilepsy / veterinary*
  • Incidence
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology