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FARMCOLLIE  April 1999

FARMCOLLIE April 1999

Subject:

Re: Eye problems in collie-family breeds

From:

Dean Mair <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Farm Collie Breed Conservancy and Restoration <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 26 Apr 1999 16:43:14 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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At 12:48 PM 4/26/99 -0500, jan wrote:
>...  Now I'm far from knowledgable on eye stuff

Well I'm an expert only in retirement and expressing my opinion so I'll
do the later. Canine health is one of my hot buttons and even more so
today since I just dropped off my 3 year old sheltie for cremation.


>        PRA is Progressive Retinal Atrophy, right?

Right.


> And it happens in many
>breeds, it is inherited, and it causes blindness.  Eye exams at 2 years of
>age will show if a dog has it and obviously dogs with it should be used in
>breeding.

Hopefully you meant "dogs with it should not be used in breeding."

There are two forms of PRA, Generalized and Centralized (sometimes called
CPRA). In the former, it often starts as night blindness and leads to total
blindness. CPRA may not lead to total blindness but rather a loss in the
ability to see stationary object close to them.
I don't believe eye exams at 2 will always determine if the dogs has PRA.
I've heard that clinical signs may not be present until as late as 5 years
old.


>        CEA is Collie Eye Anomaly and is actually a term for a  whole
>collection of eye problems. But here is the part I guess I don't
>understand. I'm reading up at:
>http://members.aol.com/ccafinc/eyes.htm
>and for the most part it doesn't sound like these problems actually effect
>the affected dog's vision, or often don't. So a dog with CEA can live its
>whole life with decent vision. Is this correct?

I generally agree with everything the pages says. You would probably never
know if a dog is minimally affected without an eye exam. But also look at
who the author of the write up is. The Collie Club of America is afraid
J.Q. Public is going to demand normal eye collies. But how many breeders
are getting exams? Even if they are getting exams, does that mean
everything is ok? Gina heard from a breeder who was breeding, with the
concurrence of their vet optho., mildly affected dogs. Then she had a
really bad litter
of affected. Apparently the odds caught up with her. CEA, whether mild or
severe, is generally believed to be a recessive gene. It is one on the
easier diseases to work with. Why not do it? Why support breeders who are
not working to improve the health of collies?


>        If I was looking to add a new dog to my family and I found one
>whose parents had the look and temperment I like and they had good hips -
>but they were carriers of CEA. As a puppy buyer looking for a family
>companion and maybe an agility buddy or something - how much should I worry
>about the CEA?

First, this issue strikes at an issue I want to see in the Classic
Victorian Collie breeding standard. A way to evaluate health the same as
conformation, etc. I would like to see something like, if the dog has X, Y,
Z it may be breedable if bred to one that doesn't have X, Y & Z. And of
course there are all shades of gray in this.

Soapbox time. If you are looking for a companion dog and not interested in
breeding, I would look for a breeder actively working health issues. That
does not mean someone who is going for a look now and will get to health
later. Also expect to pay more for a dog from such a breeder. It costs to
be concerned with health. I've spent $1,879 in tests for my dogs so far and
haven't sold one. And you might buy a CEA dog from an ethical breeder and I
would support that because it is helping support the health of the dogs.
For a dog to be proven a non-carrier of CEA, it must either be from
non-carrier parents or bred to an affected dog. If the dog is a carrier,
you will have affected pups. But that breeder should tell you that.

Now which is more important, CEA or CHD. If we lose all our CEA
non-carriers, we will have nothing but carriers and affected dogs. With all
the talk about some show breeders being after looks and glory over health
and temperament, do you think the eyes problems will improve or even stay
the same?
While CHD is serious, and this is where as a breeder we need to come to
some balance, the Seeing Eye group in New Jersey, with a closed kennel, was
able to dramatically improve the quality of hips by breeding for good hips.
If we don't pay attention to CEA now, the BEST we will ever hope for is
carriers and mildly affected dogs. I'm not saying CEA is more important
than CHD. It depends on the line. It depends on what diseases are there. It
depends on the ability to weigh the best of a possible poor situation,
because the probability of getting a dog that is perfect is getting very slim.


Dean Mair
[log in to unmask]

  "Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present."
      --- Albert Camus

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