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Pelger-Huët Anomaly in Dogs

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What is PHA in Dogs?

Pelger–Huët Anomaly (PHA) is a rare genetically-inherited condition characterized by abnormal white blood cells. Specific dog breeds are known to be affected by the condition, which include Cocker Spaniels, Australian Shepherds, Samoyeds, Foxhounds, Coonhounds, and Basenjis.

The condition has two phenotypes: heterozygous and homozygous variations. Heterozygous conditions are more common and benign. Homozygous cases are lethal for affected dogs in utero or stillborn with physical defects such as shortened paws and poorly developed cartilage.

PHA is a result of genetic abnormalities within various white blood cells (i.e. neutrophils, basophils, and eosinophils). Mutations such as hyposegmentation (the low number of lobes in the nuclei of blood cells) prevent white blood cells from maturing naturally, leading to possible complications.


The condition is asymptomatic. However, owners are recommended to conduct diagnostic tests on dogs with highly variable litters as the condition affects the mortality rate of their young.


Pelger-Huet Anomaly is usually diagnosed during a routine blood test or full blood count analysis. The condition is sometimes mistaken for infection or as a sign of leukemia. As such, vets may recommend further blood smear tests to confirm results if abnormalities in white blood cells have been observed. Blood smears involve running a sample of blood under a microscope, which enables experts to detect anomalies in the shape of blood cells.

Owners may consider conducting blood count analysis on the parents and siblings of affected dogs to track the hereditary line of the disorder.

Do note that PHA blood smear tests are usually unavailable in commercial labs. Owners may request the specialized test from a board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist.


No treatment is required for sufferers as the condition is harmless toward the health of your pet.

Expected Costs

Diagnostic tests may cost anywhere between $300 – $900. No medical fees or follow-up consultations are required.


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Home Care and Management for Dogs with Pelger–Huët Anomaly

Dogs with Pelger–Huët Anomaly do not require special care. However, owners are discouraged from breeding affected dogs due to high mortality rates in their young and the risk of passing the condition to the next generation. Owners who intend to breed their affected pets should take special precautions to ensure that mating dogs are non-carriers of PHS.


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