Alaskan Husky Encephalopathy

Alaskan Husky Encephalopathy (AHE) is a severe, early-onset disorder of the nervous system that causes wide-ranging clinical signs, including seizures, behavioral changes, and incoordination.

Key Signs

Seizures, Altered mentation, Behavioral abnormalities, Dysphagia, Central blindness, Hypermetria, Ataxia, Tetraparesis

Age of Onset

0 to 2 yrs

Juvenile onset


Autosomal Recessive

For autosomal recessive disorders, dogs with two copies of the variant are at risk of developing the condition. Dogs with one copy of the variant are considered carriers and are usually not at risk of developing the disorder. However, carriers of some complex variants grouped in this category may be associated with a low risk of developing the disorder. Individuals with one or two copies may pass the disorder-associated variant to their puppies if bred.

Likelihood of the Condition

High likelihood

At risk dogs are highly likely to show signs of this disease in their lifetime.

What to Do

Here’s how to care for a dog with AHE

Partner with your veterinarian to make a plan regarding your dog’s well-being, including any insights provided through genetic testing. If your pet is at risk or is showing signs of this disorder, then the first step is to speak with your veterinarian.

For Veterinarians

Here’s what a vet needs to know about AHE

The first signs of AHE are usually observed at the age of 6 months to 3 years of age. Affected dogs may have a sudden onset of clinical signs or a chronic history with slowly progressing signs. The characteristic signs of AHE include generalized seizures, altered mentation, behavioral changes, dysphagia (eating difficulties), loss of vision, hypermetria (overreaching movements), ataxia (uncoordinated movements), and tetraparesis (weakness in voluntary movement of all four limbs).

For affected dogs, the progression of clinical signs should be carefully monitored, ensuring the dog is as comfortable as possible. Affected dogs are usually euthanized within 2 to 7 months from the onset of clinical signs on welfare grounds, although some dogs may live for months to years before the signs progress.

For Breeders

Planning to breed a dog with this genetic variant?

There are many responsibilities to consider when breeding dogs. Regardless of test results it is important that your dog is in good general health and that you are in a position to care for the puppies if new responsible owners are not found. For first time or novice breeders, advice can be found at most kennel club websites.

This disease is autosomal recessive meaning that two copies of the mutation are needed for disease signs to develop. A carrier dog with one copy of the AHE mutation can be safely bred with a clear dog with no copies of the AHE mutation. About half of the puppies will have one copy (carriers) and half will have no copies of the AHE mutation. Puppies in a litter which is expected to contain carriers should be tested prior to breeding. Carrier to carrier matings are not advised as the resulting litter may contain affected puppies. Please note: It is possible that disease signs similar to the ones caused by the AHE mutation could develop due to a different genetic or clinical cause.

Technical Details

Gene SLC19A3
Variant G>A
Chromosome 25
Coordinate 40,417,443

All coordinates reference CanFam3.1

References & Credit

Credit to our scientific colleagues:

Vernau, K. M., Runstadler, J. A., Brown, E. A., Cameron, J. M., Huson, H. J., Higgins, R. J., … Bannasch, D. L. (2013). Genome-Wide Association Analysis Identifies a Mutation in the Thiamine Transporter 2 (SLC19A3) Gene Associated with Alaskan Husky Encephalopathy. PLoS ONE, 8(3). View the article