Chondrodysplasia is a genetic disorder in which puppies are born with bone deformities, which may become evident in abnormal shape and length of limbs as they grow. Also known as "dwarfism," chondrodysplasia is caused by a simple recessive gene, which means that both parents must carry this gene to produce an affected (chondrodysplastic) puppy.
In very young puppies (under six weeks of age), the deformity is usually impossible to detect without x-rays, even to the practiced eye. Chondrodysplastic dogs (dwarfs) can be affected in varying degrees. Some adults may appear almost normal, perhaps just unusually small, while others may have a disturbing resemblance to a Bassett hound. Chondrodysplastic malamutes can vary in size, just as normal malamutes do. We know of "dwarf" malamutes who stand 26 or 27 inches at the withers!
After it became obvious in the 1970s that chondrodysplasia has a simple recessive pattern of inheritance, a test-breeding program was implemented by the AMCA to distinguish carriers from non-carriers. While the program has been the source of occasional controversy, there is no doubt that it has been highly effective in limiting numbers of carriers of chondrodysplasia in the breeding population. The AMCAchondrodysplasia certification committee is still active today and has been working with the Alaskan Malamute Research Foundation to produce a DNA test that will simplify the task of identifying carriers and non-carriers.
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