This is not so much a question but I'm making sure that what I think I know is right.

So, if I'm right in my thinking, if a corgi is a DM carrier, they may not ever show signs of having DM.  But if 2 DM carriers have puppies, will those puppies have a much higher risk of getting DM when they're older?

I'm asking because I'm doing preliminary research on getting a puppy.  I asked a "breeder" (quotes b/c I'm not sure how legit they are) if they do DM tests, and he replied "Luckily, that hasn't come up yet, but that might be something we do in the future."

I'm assuming this means that no dogs in the lines have shown the physical signs of DM.  But, I don't want to get a puppy that has both parents that are DM carriers.

I'm thinking about just skipping this person all together because of their response.  The reason I was looking at them was b/c they are the closest ones to me that I know of.

Luckily, I have a few months before I really start getting ready to pick a breeder (we want to be living in the same place and financially stable), so I have time to make sure I am getting a healthy puppy.

(Yes, my fiance wants another dog (in addition to Scout) so that gives me reason to finally give into wanting another corgi)

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Here are a couple of articles about it, but in the most abbreviated answer I can provide: Dogs either have the gene or they don't. Genes come in sets of 2. If the dog doesn't have it, it has 2 NO genes. If the dog has it and will become affected, it has 2 YES genes. If the dog has it, but will not develop it, it has one YES and one NO gene. Puppies get one gene from each parent. 2 NO parents = all NO puppies. 2 YES parents = all YES puppies. If a NO parent and a YES parent breed, all the puppies will be carriers (one YES and one NO). If dogs that are carriers (one YES, one NO) are bred, you have a chance for all 3 results (YN + YN could equal NN, NY, YN, YY). Anyway, I am sure these articles will explain it better than me lol!

I will tell you what I know:  60% of ALL Pembrokes test "At Risk" for DM, meaning they have at least one copy of the gene.  Most of those dogs do not ever come down with DM, so being at-risk does not guarantee DM later in life. Not all good breeders test for DM because at the moment, there's nothing you can do about it.  So few Pembrokes are clear that if you only bred clears to clears or clears to carriers, there would be such a huge genetic bottleneck that it is very likely a problem, or several problems, worse than DM will crop up in the population.  At this point in time, I would not judge a breeder on whether they test for DM or breed at-risk dogs.  

Here is a chart out of one of the articles:

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
At risk 576 52%
Carrier 431 39%
Clear 99 9%
Total tested 1106  
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Carrier 119 37%
Clear 168 52%
At risk 36 11%
Total tested 323  

My number must be old, or the breeder who told me ballparked it.  Thanks for the clarification!  

I don't know much about DM itself (as evidenced by my incorrect info above) but I do know the ramifications of breeding only DM clears or carriers is pretty drastic.  

My basic understanding of genetics, is that if both are carriers, then there is a 50% chance that the offspring will have the genes for it.  Whether this puts them at risk or not is the question.  Example, if they have the genes from both parents, is that a guarantee that they will get it?  Or does an environmental factor have to set it off?  Until they really understand what it is and what causes it, I don't think there's an answer.  It also depends on if it's a dominant gene or a recessive.

From what I have read the DM test (whether "at risk" or "carriers") in no way determines whether or not your dog will develop DM, however they do have the gene so MAY develop it. The only way to know for sure your dog won't get DM is to buy a puppy that is DM clear. But as others have said, it may not be a good idea to breed only DM clear pups because it significantly reduces the gene pool so there are risks of other unwanted health and behavior problems popping up. In my opinion, when I am looking for a puppy, I'd rather buy from a breeder who does OFA testing for hips/elbows/eyes and continually produces healthy long lived puppies than exclude a breeder because they don't test for DM. Here is from OFA

according to their reports, only 8.4% of all the pembrokes tested (over 1000) are DM clear.....VERY small gene pool to choose from when breeding. Remember breeding for only one trait is what has led to some of the horribly unhealthy breeds we have today (for example Bernese Mountain dogs were bred specifically for the coat and color pattern and now are one of the unhealthiest dogs out of any breed)

Generally the idea is carriers should not develop it.  However I've seen some rumblings online of a carrier who was confirmed to have developed DM through necropsy, and other rumblings of a possible second mutation.  Whether these will bear out or not I don't know. 

The sense I have gotten from what I read is that, in theory, if a carrier lived long enough they may eventually develop symptoms, but the life span of dogs is not long enough for that to ever happen in practice.  Again, though, the research is new and it can be hard to get a feel if what is being put out there is actual fact or just the suppositions of researchers and lecturers. 

My recollection from Dr. Coates' presentation to CPWCC in Bellevue WA:

Microscope slides of sections of spinal cord autopsy specimens from HEALTHY, unaffected AG carriers can show some deterioration in motor nerves that looks like early-stage DM.  The dogs showed no sign of DM before death. 

Yes, one hypothesis is that the A allele is actually dominant, and AG dogs could get DM if they lived long enough, but the age-of-onset is longer than the typical life span.  If this is true, one might expect rare AG individuals to develop symptoms.

Technical labels like "dominant" or "recessive" should sometimes be understood as probabilities or tendencies, not all-or-nothing, writ-in-stone absolutes.

I think the other thing that is making them look at the age-of-onset issue is that apparently in humans (ALS), just one copy of the bad gene can cause the disease, while in dogs it's two.  So that, coupled with what you mentioned, makes them think that "technically"  the carriers do get the illness--- but as you say will never (or almost never) show symptoms because of age-of-onset in comparison to the life span of a dog.  But if, say, we found a way to have dogs live to be 20, it could become an issue.

From what I understand there are 3 possibilities for DM results:


Normal / Normal: DM clear, the dog will never get DM

Normal / Abnormal: Dog carries the gene for DM, but will not get the disease

Abnormal / Abnormal: dog is at risk for DM, but it is not a guarantee the dog will show symptoms


Getting a puppy that is DM clear or a just a carrier should be fine if you're not planning on breeding.

This is a subjest near and dear to my heart, I lost my Emma Anne in late August to DM (shes my profile pic in the snowfall acouple years ago when she could still walk).  I had NO IDEA about DM, I'm sure there are many like me....I loved Corgis and a little over 10 years ago I got a puppy.  I bought several books on Corgis (none mention DM AT ALL!) and this was really before the WIFI age of googling everything....she was a happy healthy Corgi till about 2 years ago when we noticed a "hitch" in one of her back legs, well that led onward until this spring summer she was wheelchair bound when outside.  She was not a happy camper.  At the end she had lost bladder control on would only pull herself around a little bit.  She had no quality of life and the kindess thing I could do for my best friend was to help her to the Bridge:(  There is a wonderful yahoo chat group called "wheelcorgis" that I know can give you tons of genetic info before you pick out a pup, they are great loving folks who have some very special corgis...


I know have 2 corgis I rescued last May, I have no -idea if they will get DM and I don't want to know.  I will deal with it when/if it happens but at least now if it does I know what to look for and hopefully by then more advances to treat the disease will be available (they are only 2 & 4)  Jack & Katie.


Good luck to you Emily, hubby and Scout...I hope you find a healthy addition to your family!   Corgi love from Jack, Kate & Angel Emma


So sorry to hear of Emma Anne.  I believe that DM is what my corgi mix Dillon died from too.  He however, was a mix, a Heinz 57 if you will.  The best I could ever figure out was corgi/white labrador.  So, I guess even if you are only a "carrier" of one parent (as in his case possibly), you are still at risk to get it.  I wouldn't let it keep me from getting a corgi either.  There are so many horrible diseases out, and if we start deciding that we only want pets that are perfect- well, where does that leave us?  Like Melissa said, with a very small genetic pool to go from.  Just because you can have a genetic test done to decide if you are going to die from a disease or not, doesn't mean you should have it done.  I'd rather live my life and take each day for what God gave me.  Life can be good, even if it's not perfect.  :-)


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