Health Research

Since the late 1980’s, SCWTCA has supported research into many health conditions affecting our breed as well as research into conditions impacting many other breeds.  Wheaten breeders and owners have also contributed untold time and resources to these projects, and our breed is better today for their efforts.

SCWTCA Endowment

In 2001, we established the SCWTCA Endowment as a 501(c)(3) organization to raise funds and provide grants.   As part of its mission, the Endowment established a Wheaten Health Database to collect information on Wheatens in all countries to be a resource for future research.

To learn more about the Endowment or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit SCWTCA Endowment.

Current Research Projects

PLE/PLN – University of Pennsylvania Research Projects (2020)

With great excitement, the SCWTCA Health Committee announced three new health projects with the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, under the development and guidance of Paula Henthorn, Ph.D.

  • DNA Survey
    Since the introduction of  genetic testing for PLN-Associated Variant Genes, Wheaten owners and breeders have wanted more information on the relationship between particular DNA results and the occurrence of PLN. This project will collect information that will allow for that analysis.
  • Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)
    Since the introduction of the DNA test for PLN risk, owners and breeders have continued to hope for some similar testing for PLE. As noted, it is a more complex disease. The goal of the proposed study is to further improve our ability to predict the occurrence of PLN as well as identify areas of study for PLE.
  • Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) using SNP chips
    GWAS analysis should identify the chromosomal regions (and genes within these regions) that are associated with PLE or PLN.  The genes can then be studied in additional dogs for confirmation. This same approach was used to identify the PLN variant alleles.
  • For more details on these research projects at UPenn, Read the announcement »
Hemangiosarcoma – North Carolina State University (2018)

A research project funded through the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation is studying the impact of bacterial genus Bartonella on hemangiosarcoma.  Hemangiosarcoma, a cancer most often found in the spleen and heart, is found in many breeds, including Wheatens, and generally has a poor prognosis.  For more information on this study, visit the AKC-CHF grant page.

Degenerative Myelopathy – University of Missouri (2020)

A research project funded through the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation is defining the effect of genotype, breed and age on the risk of developing canine degenerative myelopathy and investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying that risk.  Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a progressive and inevitably fatal neurological disease affecting members of different dog breeds and mixes.  It is an inherited disease with the risk for developing the disease increasing with age.  For more information on this study, visit the AKC-CHF grant page.

Past Research Projects

Open Registry (1996 – 2013)

The Open Registry was established by the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America Inc. and the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Association of Canada to support research at North Carolina State University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Learn more »

Colony Dogs (1994 – 2014)

The Colony Dogs were part of a research project at North Carolina State University  to learn more about the inheritance of PLN and PLE and how the diseases progress.
Learn more »

NIH SCWT Lifetime Health Study (10/2009)

The Lifetime Study followed more than 200 Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers over a ten year span, collecting information about health, wellness, and living environment.
Read more on the NIH website »

Rabies Challenge Fund (2006, 2009)

Supported by many breeds and individuals, this project researched the duration of immunity of the rabies vaccine.

Texas A&M University PLE Pilot Study (01/2008)
Informative Family Project (12/2007)
Geriatric Dog Project (9/2007)
University of Missouri Canine Phenome Project (10/2007)
  • SCWT DNA Bank
  • Siblings DNA Study