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Friend in Training
Friend in Training

Joined: 08 Aug 2008
Posts: 48
Location: Chobham, Surrey

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

In the ulna shortening thread we touched on eye probs in Beardies and I mentioned that a dog I bred that was exported to the States was given a hereditary cataract diagnosis many years ago, but that none of the dog's relatives when tested had a problem and that it was assumed to be a false result by most breeders at the time.

I decided to contact BeaCon and find out what the situation was, was this a rogue result or have there been more cases?

Here's the reply from the wonderful Elsa. I think as the American dogs are all related to ours we should all be eye testing as per her protocol on the end.

From Elsa:
Cataracts are the most common eye problem in Bearded Collies here; that is reported year after year in the CERF (Canine Eye Research Foundation) research report. Here when dogs are examined by an ophthalmologist approved by CERF, the doc fills out a form that is in triplicate. One copy is given to the owner to submit for a certificate (if the exam was passed); one is kept by the doc; one is sent to CERF for input to a research database. There is no option to not send the copy to the CERF research database – thus assuring a relatively good picture of a breed’s status with respect to proven or suspect heritable eye diseases. This is very unlike hips evaluations – the xrays are taken by the local vet, and the vet may do the reading (rightly or wrongly) but it is up to the owner to submit the xrays for formal evaluation by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).

No research has been done on Bearded Collie cataracts, as in some other breeds. CERF maintains a list of the cataracts which are proven or suspect of being hereditary (depends on location and position within the lens) and applies the findings across the board to other breeds, most of the time.

In the fall 2003 newsletter on BeaCon’s website – the article on p 7 gives some information. For example, a table on p 8 shows cumulative results for 1991-2002. There were 784 dogs with 9.3% having cataracts classified as hereditary; there were 1043 bitches with 6.1% having cataracts classified as hereditary. For both sexes there were a larger % with cataracts of unknown significance. These cataracts are probably not present at birth – if they were, and if they were involving much of the lens, that would be apparent on routine vet exam as a cloudy lens. Of course, it is unknown if the % with hereditary cataracts which appears to be high is that way because the total number evaluated is low, or if that is representative of the breed as a whole.

Now that you ask the question, it looks like it is time for me to write up another article to update the CERF findings in Beardies & maybe to consider the research database use again to see if we have any greater knowledge about the course that the cataracts take, once identified. As the parent club (BCCA) only requires hip evaluation for litter listings in the club’s monthly newsletter, I doubt there’s been much improvement in the frequency of exams. There is also a table on p 8 of the fall 2006 newsletter that shows somewhat fewer hereditary cataracts after 2002, though the number is still higher than one might like. Also take a look at page 10 of the fall 2005 newsletter. For that table I went through the litter listing in our monthly magazine, and looked up CERF results for each sire and each dam – I found the figures appalling. The percentage of both sires and dams with current CERF was very low - 2002 it was 21.5% (there is a typo in the table), 2003 it was 10%, 2004 it was 7%, 2005 it was 12%.

Ideally breeding stock would have the first eye exam prior to the first breeding (sooner if parent has a hereditary cataract diagnosed), then yearly until 5 or 6, then at 7 or 8. The length of time to middle age is because we simply don’t know the range of ages when these cataracts are first diagnosed.

I belong also to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America – it has quite stringent rules about CERF exams, which must be “current”. An exam is considered good for only 12 months. The PWDCA also requires that results of health screening tests (4) be included in any breeding related ad in the bimonthly breed magazine (and the CERF must be current).

I've not heard of a UK case of HC going through the eye scheme. Isn't that a bit odd with so many US cases?

Best wishes

Beverley Cuddy, Dearbolt Beardies and Ed Dogs Today
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Senior Friend
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Joined: 28 Mar 2005
Posts: 101
Location: Brandys n.L. - Czech Republic

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:28 am Reply with quoteBack to top

The problem is that HC is not listed as a hereditary problem in Beardies so I guess many UK eye specialists pass dogs even if they have cataracts (as there can be many causes of it) - this is the situation here...

It would be great to have DNA tests for cataracts as it usually does not affect the dogs sight that much (I know Beardies with juvenile cataracts who are great agility and obedience dogs etc.). And we can't select against everything as our gene pool is so small, so if we had tests even an affected bitch could be bred to a healthy non-carrier dog for example.

Last edited by glenalbyn on Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Friend for Life
Friend for Life

Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 749
Location: Baden Wurttemberg, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:19 am Reply with quoteBack to top


here in Germany Beardies going into stud have to be eye tested. BUT only if they have HD A. For HD B you don't need to have your dog eye tested. The results can be viewed on the club homepage. The results can be viewed in the on line data basis of the club, but only the latest result ( you click on "Start" and later on the top line on "Suchen" then you put the name of the dog you are looking for in and again "Suchen" but this time the button on your left side. A bit difficult but once you know how to do it, it' easy Wink )

I do test my dogs and they are retested on a regular basis every year, no matter what their HD result is. It is recommended to test them until they turn 7, something I did with Baghira, he turned 7 last June. So far all have been clear and I do send the results in.

I do agree it is a question of money if someone who owns more than 3 dogs would like to redo the testing every year, but over here we do have a few breed clubs where a dog has to have his eye exam or it can't be bred from (Tibet Terrier, Labrador and some more). And on the internat. Shows there is the possibility to have the eyes tested for a special price.

I think it's an easy thing to do, they don't need to sleep like for HD X-ray, it's only a drop into the eye and a few minutes of sitting still. I can't understand people who do the HD X-ray but won't d the eyes except they get A rated hips....

But still, I don't think we do have eye problems, at least not so far. But it might change and I think it would be a good idea to have the dogs used for breeding have examined.

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