Copper Toxicosis


Bedlington Terrier Health Group Report 2020

This has been a strange year with lockdowns, partial and total, and sadly the AHT had to close its doors due to lack of funds, this meant that we had lost the use of its services for DNA testing for COMMD1

Luckily June at the Animal DNA Diagnostic Centre at Cambridge can offer DNA testing for COMMD1 and Hyperkeratosis.  The results are usually back in about two weeks and fees very competitive.

Details :

June Swinburne at the Animal DNA Diagnostic Centre at Cambridge                                                             

 Unit1 6 William James House Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0WX  tel 01223 395577

The KC require a Breed Health Plan, which has been prepared and is in discussion before being finalised, it will then be published on the BTHG website and on breed club websites if they wish.

I have received an update report from Susan Haywood, see below

Progress in Copper Toxicosis research 2019/20

Susan Haywood, BVSc,PhD, MRCVS

Since reporting our findings on the association of the metal transporter gene ABCA12 in non-COMMD1 copper toxicosis in Bedlington terriers in 20161, Dr Penny Watson and Dr June Swinburne of Cambridge and Professor Stuart Carter (Liverpool) and myself have continued our research into copper toxicosis. We have now extended our remit to include dogs of other breeds which have a similar disease profile to the disease in Bedlingtons. (This separately funded).

The variant genes we are able to study include in addition to COMMD1, ABCA12, and a third genotype reported in Labrador retrievers2   an ATP7b variant (Wilsons disease).




Results: Accessioned Bedlington terriers*

Name (dog)









Copper toxicosis


GA    AC



Copper toxicosis


GA    CC


Woody Green

Copper toxicosis

Del/ Del

GA    CC



? Copper toxicosis


GA    AC



Copper toxicosis


GG    AA



Copper toxicosis


GG    AA               


*I have included only those samples submitted which included a liver biopsy or which were not diagnosed with copper toxicosis.

In this very limited series it can be seen that 3 affected dogs were diagnosed with COMMD1del/del genotype, 2 CT affected dogs with ABCA12 variants and lacking COMMD1del/del and finally one dog of considerable interest “Isaac” lacked both COMMD1 and ABCA12 variants and exhibited only the ATP7b Wilsons variant.

In conclusion it would appear that Bedlington copper toxicosis can be the outcome of one or more genetic variants that have all appeared in other breeds sampled and much more sampling of Bedlington terriers is advised if a true picture is to be obtained.


1.       Susan Haywood et al.  Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology (2016) 35,83-89.

2.       Hille Fieten et al, Disease models and Mechanisms (2016) 9,25-38

As you can see not many people are having their dogs included in the research.  In these difficult times, some vets may only do a liver biopsy if another procedure is being carried out, or if the dog shows symptoms of liver problems if you do need to have a dog biopsied please contact Penny Watson, see details below:-

Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine
Department of Veterinary Medicine
Madingley Road
Cambridge CB3 OES
Tel (+44+ - (0)1223 337621 Fax: (+44) - (0)1223 330848

Sheila Baldwin

Bedlington Terrier Health Group


anyone wishing to test your Bedlington Terrier for Copper Toxicosis contact the company below who will provide information for you. 


In Bedlington Terriers Copper Toxicosis is an inherited disease. Copper is present quite normally in the diet and drinking water. It is absorbed into the dog and has some essential uses especially relating to the blood and the nervous system. Any excess is excreted in the bile. In copper toxicosis this excretion is reduced which causes a build up of copper in the liver. The liver is damaged by this.


PLEASE VISIT THE BEDLINGTON TERRIER HEALTH GROUP web site for up to date information on this disease and other related health problems.  

                                            email;   Health Group Secretary  --  Ms Sheila Baldwin 




The skin on the pads of a dog’s foot is thicker than the rest of its body and the cells are (reinforced) by a protein called Keratin. In some dogs this process is exaggerated, and they produce large amounts of excess skin which is rich in Keratin. This results in corny and cracked pads. The corns are very painful, and the cracks can go right down to the living basal layer of the skin. The condition is present for life. The cracks are very different from the small superficial cracks found in most dogs that are walked on the road.


Fortunately, a genetic abnormality related to this condition has been identified. The best method of avoiding it is to check that both parents have been tested for the abnormal gene. The cost of the test will probably be reflected in the price of the puppy, but animal welfare should come first.


The test can be carried out in this country by a cheek swab available from Animal DNA Diagnostics. They have their own website and an email address od or speak to June on 01223 395577. It is possible that soon other firms may also offer this test.


There are a few other conditions that can look a little like hyperkeratosis, such as some forms of dermatitis, especially one associated with low levels of zinc in the body. If you have any doubts, visit your vet or check out the numerous photos available on the internet


for more information on all Bedlington Terrier health isusses please visit their website




At the request of the Bedlington Terrier breed clubs, the Kennel Club has recently approved an official DNA testing scheme for copper Toxicosis ( COMMD1 )


The test result will hopefully be added to the dog’s details on the registration database. This will trigger the publication of the test result in the next available Breed Record Supplement, and the result will also appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog.


Owners of dogs who have already had their dogs DNA tested for copper Toxicosis can send copies of the DNA certificates into the Kennel Club and the data will be added to the dog’s registration details. If you also send the original registration certificate the Kennel Club will issue a new certificate with the results included for free.


Send to

 Health & Breeder Services Dept,

The Kennel Club,

1 – 5 Clarges Street,


London. W1J 8AB


Alternatively copies of DNA certificates can be emailed to  


For further information on this scheme please contact;


Nick Sutton or Aimee Llewellyn       both are Health Information Officer with the Kennel Club



Contrary to the claims of the RSPCA and the BBC (Pedigree Dogs Exposed) breeders, Breed Clubs and the Kennel Club are working together to eradicate health problems within all breeds and have done so for many years. It has recently become a rule that all breeds with health issues MUST have a Health Council/Group who us in contact with the Kennel Club.

The Bedlington Terrier breeders have been aware of copper toxicosis in the breed since the early 1980’s. In 1983 a Liver Malfunction committee was set up to work Mike Hertage of Cambridge University and Dr Susan Haywood of Liverpool University who carried out and analysed liver biopsies.

In February 1992 the National Bedlington Terrier Club had “a way forward” seminar; eminent speakers were Mr Mike Hertage, Dr Susan Haywood, Dr Caroline Rutgers of London University and Dr Malcolm Willis of Newcastle University. There were a number of invited guests including the late Mr William Edmunds of the Kennel Club.

Liver biopsies were the only test available until 1995 when Dr Brewer of Michigan University, USA and his team found a DNA test which would be available to the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. The new test was not 100% but it was possible to identify carriers which had not been possible using biopsy.

At the Open show of the NBTC on 3rd August 1996 a Veterinarian and nurse from the Animal Health Trust held a clinic working all day taking cheek swabs from Bedlington ‘s present to help build up a data base.

In 2002 representatives from all three breed clubs attended a meeting at the Kennel Club chaired by Dr Jeff Sampson, the K.C. Geneticist to discuss progress which lead to a Bedlington Terrier Health Group being formed in 2003. Members of this group consist of officials/committee members and a member representing the working Bedlington Terriers. In the same year, Dr Matthew Binns of the Animal Health Trust again attended a club show taking further samples to add to the data base.

Current research suggests a strong possibility that there is one or more genes that cause or contribute to copper toxicosis