Look into the eyes: the importance of DNA screening

Dog eyes
Photo by Tina Papai from Pexels

I read about dog eye problems this morning after seeing the sad story of yet another spaniel and came across this article on issues that different breeds are prone to. Despite what many people think, crossbreeds are not exempt from this – they get genes from both sides and some of these do not manifest even if a dog is a carrier.

Many are inherited and since there are lots of people getting puppies at the moment, I thought I’d collect some information into a post.

It’s important to look into what screening is available and what a breeder has done – for the sake of long-term wellbeing of the dog population (unless you’re adopting) it’s better to only support breeding of healthy dogs – we’ve messed up dogs enough and now that we can, we need to do better.

There are DNA screening tests available for many of the serious illnesses and if a breeder considers them as expensive or unimportant, be very cautious because their motivation is something else than healthy, happy dogs. If you’re planning to get a puppy, check the list below and also research the breed for typical health concerns and what tests are recommended.

The Dutch Kennel Club has a mandatory DNA collection and you can check the health test results of all dogs in their database so if your dog is from a registered Dutch breeder, you can check the parents on their site or get more information on DNA testing.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: The Bark – Canine Eye Disorders

SERIOUS AND DNA-SCREENABLE ISSUES:

Cataract: Afghan Hound, American Cocker Spaniel, Boston Terrier, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Schnauzer, Norwegian Buhund, Old English Sheepdog, Schnauzer, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Standard Poodle, Welsh Springer Spaniel and West Highland White Terrier

Glaucoma: Alaskan Malamute, American Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound, Beagle, Boston Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Chow Chow, Dalmatian, English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Norwegian Elkhound, Poodle (all sizes), Samoyed, Shar-Pei, Shih Tzu, Siberian Husky and Welsh Springer Spaniel.

Retinal Disorders: PRA affects more than 100 breeds of dogs, and different genes are responsible so screening for this is super important especially for crossbreeds. Puppy hood PRA: Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Cairn Terrier, Collie, Gordon Setter, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Miniature Schnauzer and Norwegian Elkhound. Adulthood PRA: American Cocker Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Lhaso Apso, Miniature Poodle, Portuguese Water Dog, Tibetan Spaniel and Tibetan Terrier.

LESS SERIOUS EYE PROBLEMS (NON-SURGERY):

Dry Eye: American Cocker Spaniel, English Bulldog, Pug, Lhasa Apso, Pekinese, Shih Tzu and West Highland White Terrier. Small, flat-faced dogs sometimes have eyes that bulge so much that their eyelids cannot close, which allows the surface of the eyes to dry out.

Corneal Ulcer: small dog breeds with very short noses and big eyeballs are more prone to eye injuries (often seen with Boston Terrier, the Pekinese, and the Shih Tzu) https://thebark.com/content/canine-eyes-their-disorders

More information on the illnesses and DNA testing

General information on DNA testing here: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health-and-dog-care/health/getting-started-with-health-testing-and-screening/dna-testing/?fbclid=IwAR0saHicnuFc_fd9WaNKHqGk7ixaxJf1lWZlTmV_egRYZQmdcBy9fXvt9MU

Dog genetics info: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health-and-dog-care/health/getting-started-with-health-testing-and-screening/understanding-canine-genetics/?fbclid=IwAR18J4A-pcmB5Tb4FW5vL_y9DR1OwtOVhHlX7IPxRzm0L1HWXVF_GTtRCpg

More cataract info (it’s surprisingly common – fixable but includes intensive surgery which is expensive and highly unpleasant for the dog): https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/…/dna-test-hc-hsf4/

Information on cataracts – crossbreeds can also have it and just because the parents don’t exhibit the problem, it doesn’t mean they’re not a carrier of the gene: https://www.animalgenetics.us/canine/Genetic_Disease/HC.asp

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