Jessica Gruninger & Robyn Walker

Along my journey, I found two breeders in other countries that are taking on SM and are on the forefront of eradicating the disease because they are taking action and are working along with top Veterinarian Specialist such as Clare Rusbridge. Jessica Gruninger is out of the United Kingdom and Robyn Walker is out of New Zealand. They both should be applauded for their courage and contributions as they are taking the steps to identify the genetic causes of SM by being responsible breeders and providing information to be studied.


Robyn not only was willing to test her dogs, she was also willing to publish the results. She is a hero to the breed. See below for comments from both Jessica and Robyn.



Jessica Gruninger:


I have been breeding Affenpinschers in the UK for over 18 years. I came to know about this disease when someone who had re-homed an older dog from me rang to let me know that after suffering a head injury she had had an MRI scan and that it showed that she also had SM. I then set about finding out where it had come from and how badly affected my dogs were. The first step was to attend a Seminar on SM where the principal speaker and world authority on the disease was Clare Rusbridge.

There was an opportunity to ask a question so I did and Clare took my details and I subsequently took 3 dogs to be MRI scanned, the Mother, Father and half-sister to the bitch that I already knew had SM. The scan showed that Mum and Sister had SM (Grade D) but Dad did not (Grade A and clear of CM and SM).


I then booked all my dogs of 2.5 years and over to be scanned and let most of the people who had used my stud dogs know what had happened. This resulted in one or two other concerned breeders doing the same. Many dogs have been misdiagnosed in the past, I have lost 2 dogs both of which became paralyzed, one at 11 years and the other at 8. Both were diagnosed as having spinal cord tumors. Having gone back and discussed it with my Vet it seems that they may both have had SM. The dog will need a general anesthetic as the scan takes around 30 minutes and the animal must not move. A mini MRI scan is then done of the skull, neck and upper back. This is then looked at by a panel of experts who will grade the dog according to its age and the presence, severity or absence of CM and SM. A decision will then have to be made by the owner as to whether or not to breed. Recommendations have already been made.



AGE (Years)




Over 2.5

Absent or less than 2mm central canal dilatation in the C2-C4 region only

A, C, D


Under 2.5


A and re-scan after age 2.5


Over 2.5

Present but Asymptomatic



Under 2.5

Present but Asymptomatic

Do not breed



Present and Symptomatic

Do not breed


This problem can be caught at an early stage and can be managed but we all need to scan our dogs so that we minimize the chances of producing sick dogs. I have had 11 dogs scanned so far with 6 more to be done in September. There should no excuse not to scan any dog that is to be used for breeding, and especially if it is a male standing at public stud.



I saw the adverse reaction to T.Trooper situation and the fall out from that. This is a serious condition and I do take this extremely seriously - and when it's your best canine buddy, it's heartbreaking.


We have tested ( MRI Scan) several of our Affenpinschers for SM/CM. In this current testing cycle we have tested three generations. Other affens tested do not belong to us so therefore their results would only be available through their owners. We supplied the DNA is to the Canadian Database for research to find the genes responsible.


Here are the results:

Results: NZ Gr Freddie Mercurie At Affitude .. CM2 .. SM2b .. Affected with no clinical symptoms at 4 years .. Breed only to clear .. Not at stud
:: Ch Kicking RRR's With Affitude .. CM1 .. SM0a .. Clear at 2.8 years .. Final scan at 5 years
:: NZ Ch Strongfort Opium Poppy Fleur At Affitude (Aust) .. CM2 .. SM0a .. Clear at 2.6 years - final scan at 5 years
:: CH Let Me Entertain U At Affitude .. CM1 .. SM0c .. Clear at 13 months .. Will be re-scanned at 3 years .. Not at stud
:: Ch Orlock Shadow of The Vampire (UK) .. CM2 .. SMOa .. Clear at 20 months .. Final scan at 5 years .. Results on BVA Health Register

The value of testing and honesty with open dialogue about results is of vital importance. I know it is expensive and may be beyond some, but don't criticise those who do test and then behave responsibly. There is nothing to be ashamed of if a dog is affected.

Please, if you are ill informed, ignorant of the real facts, or have not tested your dogs at all for CM/SM do not insult myself or those who have taken the time and money to do so, with any unfounded opinions.

Should you have any questions to ask about our dogs or the testing, I am only to happy to try to answer them.

I encourage any serious Affenpinscher breeder to test your breeding stock. Remember, the SM/CM scanning is only one health test we do. Hips, patellas, Legge Perthes, Eyes, Hearts, etc are also effecting the breed.


To talk about SM/CM with either Jessica or Robyn join the talk on Face Book with a group dedicated to SM :CMSM Research

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