Mutation causing Neonatal Cerebellar Ataxia in Coton de Tulear has been FOUND!


May 14 , 2010
University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine

UPDATE to testing procedures posted October 4, 2010


A mutation responsible for the development of Neonatal Cerebellar Ataxia (NCA) in Coton de Tulears has been identified by a team of researchers led by Gary Johnson DVM PhD, Dennis O’Brien DVM PhD and Joan Coates DVM MS at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine. A DNA test for this mutation is now available.

Neonatal Cerebellar Ataxia is also known as “Bandera’s Syndrome”, named after the second puppy where this condition was identified. Pups affected with this disorder lack the ability to coordinate movement. All affected pups examined by the neurologists presented with similar clinical signs. They nursed well and grew adequately, but had difficulties from the time they become active enough to be able to clearly identify motor problems. Affected pups are unable to stand and walk, and might be generically referred to as “swimmers”. They move all four limbs, sometimes with good strength, but are unable to coordinate these actions to allow normal movement. The condition does not appear to progress or improve. CLICK HERE to learn more about Bandera's Syndrome

Research at the University of Missouri has led to identification of a DNA mutation responsible for NCA (Bandera’s Syndrome) in Cotons. A simple DNA test will reveal if a dog is NORMAL (has 2 normal copies of the gene), a CARRIER (has one normal copy and one mutated copy of the gene) who will not show any symptoms of the disease but could pass the mutation on to offspring, or AFFECTED (has 2 mutated copies of the gene). Wise use of this test will allow breeders to avoid producing puppies born with this condition, while still retaining many other desirable traits in their dogs.

Breeders and individual owners are now able to test their dogs by sending a blood sample to the lab at the University of Missouri. We had hoped to be able to offer this test using DNA samples collected by cheek swab, but due to the nature of this mutation, results from swab samples have not been consistently reliable. DNA from blood samples does give reliable, easily interpreted results. We understand that this is not as convenient for owners, especially for testing young puppies or dogs from outside the US, but we believe accuracy is more important than convenience. Please CLICK HERE for a file with instructions and test request form. If you are sending samples from outside the US, click here for additional shipping instructions to get the package through Customs and to the lab in good condition.

Owners who had submitted samples for research prior to May 1, 2010 may request test results for their dogs using this Test Request Form for existing samples – click here for this form. Testing for all other dogs is available as described above. Please plan on about 2-3 weeks turnaround time from when the samples arrive in the lab for a report to be emailed to you (and don't forget to include a legible email address on the order form!!).

Our thanks to the clubs and many individual owners who supported this research and participated in the project by supplying samples and information on their dogs.

If you have questions, you may contact Project Coordinator Liz Hansen at