Epilepsy is spontaneous, random electrical over-activity of a small or large part of the brain which causes localised muscle activity (eg twitches) or generalised, whole body seizures, convulsions or fits. It is a common hereditary disease of Border Collies. In the idiopathic form, there is no apparent cause of the condition (ie no detectable underlying injury or disease).  

It is recognised in many other pedigree dog breeds, and the mode of inheritance has been determined in some – but not in Border collies. It is probable that Idiopathic Epilepsy in border collies is a polygenic disorder (ie more than one gene is involved). 

Unfortunately at present, there is no method for detecting carriers of the disease (who may show no signs of the condition itself but who are capable of passing the disease on to their offspring), or which puppies are likely to develop the condition later in life. 

It may not be easy to eliminate Epilepsy as there is no genetic test to identify carriers or affected animals and it may not become apparent until after breeding age.

Further reading regarding Epilepsy can be found on many websites such as the 'Universities Federation for Animal Welfare' where you can also access links to research papers, such as Patterson (2007), who suggests most canine Idiopathic Epilepsy has a genetic basis.

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