The Collie is a relatively healthy breed and
usually lives to an average of 12 years old. We give a written health guarantee
on all of our dogs. Below you will find information on the care of the Collie
and diseases it can be prone to as well as links to other sites of information.
On this page you will find information on Collie
Eye Anomaly, Hip Dysplaysia, Grey Collie Syndrome, Drug Sensitivity and The
Collie Health Foundation.
I will be adding other health info such as diet,
skin diseases and bloat info soon.
Collie Eye Anomaly
Eye Disease in
"Your Collie's Eyes"
(Cross-section of the Canine Eye)
Like people, Dogs
are subject to a large number of inherited eye diseases, two of which can
affect a Collie's eyes, CEA and PRA, should be of concern to all breeders.
COLLIE EYE ANOMALY
This is the most
common of the Collie eye diseases, but it should be noted that Collies share
this disease with several other breeds. Researchers first noted this problem
nearly fifty years ago. It was later found to exist in most Collies and in
most Collie families. This so-called syndrome, meaning a group of conditions
which appear in conjunction with each other, is present prior to birth. Collie EyeAnomaly can be easily checked
when the puppies are 5-6 weeks old, by a qualified Board Certified
Ophthalmologist. It is something that your average Veterinarian is not
qualified to diagnose. The eyes must be dilated prior to the examination, so
the interior of the eye can be examined with an Ophthalmoloscope.
A dog is either
given a "Normal"
or "Affected" rating. If given "affected" the type of abnormality is noted.
It used to be popular to use a Grading System and still is being used in
certain parts of the country. Currently there is no universal, standardized
A "Normal" eye rating is of course
the best grading there is. (There are also "Go Normals", which are so mildly
affected at a young age, that later, the pale areas disappear, leading to
what is termed a "Go Normal". Keep in mind that these are still in fact
affected with CEA). There are variations even in "Normal"
eyes. These correspond somewhat to a dog's coat color. Thus it is often
difficult to judge the pigment in a Blue Merle's eyes as it is diluted along
with his coat color.
Choroidal Hypoplasia, Chorioretinal Change:These
refer to abnormalities in the coloring or pigmentation of the choroid or
central layer of the eye's lining. This is the most common abnormality found
in Collie eyes. Often referred to as mild CRC, Grade I or Grade II, it is
the least harmful and least severe form of CEA. Most dogs with this eye
grade function normally with no ill-effects or loss of vision.
While not completely synonymous, these terms all refer to a cupping or
bulging in the eyeball usually in the area of the optic disc.
Tortuous Blood Vessels:Defects
in the vessels of the eye which are responsible for its blood supply or
"nourishment." These may be malformed, undersized, or even lacking.
Loosening or separation of the inmost, or retina, layer from the wall of the
eye. This may involve a tiny area or the entire retina. It can be either one
or both eyes. The complete detachment of the retina results in blindness in
There is a new Genetic Test for Collie Eye Anomaly / Choroidal Hypoplasia.
Please visit the
OPTIGEN website for details
Can the Collie's eyes become worse? Might he later go blind?
The basic answer is "No" as CEA is present prior to birth. However, a dog
born with a severe Staphyloma or with Vascular Disease may later suffer loss
of sight if a detachment or severe hemorrhage occurs. The majority of dogs
that are slightly affected, will have perfectly adequate eye vision
throughout their life. (Even a dog with one blind eye will adapt perfectly
well in his surroundings.)
What have breeders done to improve Collie eyes?
When the eye problem was discovered more than 50 years ago, it was estimated
that 90% of the Collie population was afflicted with some form of eye
disease. Because CEA has involved such a large percentage of the breed,
eradication has been slow . Over the years, with selective breeding and eye
checking of breeding stock, the numbers of affected Collies has greatly
reduced. ALL reputable breeders eye check not only their breeding stock, but
all puppies that are offered for sale.
How is CEA inherited?
Most of the specialists agree that Choroidal Hypoplasia is carried as a
simple recessive. For a dog to show symptoms, both parents, even if they show
no signs themselves, must
carry a gene for the condition. Evidence exists that some other parts of the
syndrome are inherited differently. Staphyloma, for instance, rarely occurs
except in the presence of Choroidal Hypoplasia. Dogs recommended for
breeding will vary according to the standard set by the individual doctor.
The ideal, of course, is to eliminate all but the clear, non-carriers, from
the breed. Please note:Even among the
dogs that examine "normal", most are carriers of the gene. They have a
"hidden" or recessive gene for the condition and will transmit the gene to
half its offspring.
conditions not part of the CEA, which can occur, should be noted:
Hypoplasia of the
An undersized nerve which is noted where it enters the eyeball. In extreme
cases, this can cause blindness.
condition comes on when the dog is mature, often during stress. Opaque spots
appear centrally on the surface of the cornea. (It is often confused by the
layman with cataracts which occur in the lense.)
In the beginning there was a lack of veterinarians trained to examine eyes.
Then in 1972, the American Veterinary Medical Association formed the American
College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO), thus providing specialists in
the animal eye field. The Collie Club of America encourages its members to
have all their puppies checked as young as possible by a member of the ACVO.
Where there is none in the area, the alternative is to sell a dog contingent
on a later check. No dog should be used for breeding until examined and
found to be above the examiner's standard.
The other Collie
eye problem that can occur in rare instances is Progressive Retinal Atrophy
(PRA). Since the name is just what it implies, it can be a progressive
disease, that may not appear until later in life. This is a completely
different and unrelated disease to CEA. As the name indicates, PRA is a
progressive disease which refers to retinal degeneration. It can result in
complete blindness in one or both eyes. However, Collies seem to be blessed
with the fact that PRA seems to have an early onset. Fortunately, this is an
eye disease that has largely been eradicated thanks to breeders efforts of
test breeding potential carriers. Since PRA is a simple recessive gene, it
is much easier to test for than CEA. Also, thanks to funding of certain
grants by the Collie Health Foundation, research is being done to locate the
genetic markers for this disease, which will further reduce the occurrence.
Currently there is no genetic test for PRA, but rumor is that researchers
are very close to finding a DNA marker.
PRA has proven to
be a simple recessive in all the breeds studied. Again, this means that even
though the condition is not present at birth, both parents must be carriers. If one parent
has PRA, half the puppies may develop PRA, but all will be carriers for the
disease. Early signs of the problem may be noticed by the owner as "night
blindness." The dog has trouble seeing in dim light and will bump things. An
expert may detect early signs in the eye at six months or younger.
There is a genetic
syndrome in collies that can be deadly if not addressed. Some of our collies
do not have the proper transport system in the brain to move chemicals back
and forth between the brain tissue and the blood that supports the brain
tissue. These collies are very susceptible to certain toxic drugs that enter
the brain and cannot get back out. The dogs that do not have a proper
transport system can become intoxicated, seizure and possibly die when
exposed to certain drugs.
Among the drugs that can affect our collies are ivermectin and ivermectin
sister drugs (the active ingredient in certain heartworm preventatives and
ear medications), Imodium (an anti-diarrheal medication), and a number of
the drugs used for chemotherapy. Exposure to these drugs in a large number
of our collies can be fatal.
When dealing with the
genetic makeup of our breed, APPROXIMATELY 35% OF OUR COLLIES ARE AFFECTED
and will become intoxicated when exposed to those drugs listed above.
APPROXIMATELY 45% OF ARE
COLLIES ARE CARRIERS OF THE AFFECTED GENES. These collies may or may not
react to those drugs listed above. If they react it is usually not as severe
a reaction as the affected collies. However, when two carriers are bred they
can produce affected, affected carriers and unaffected non carriers.
APPROXIMATELY 20% OF ARE
COLLIES ARE NOT AFFECTED AND NOT CARRIERS.
There is now a genetic
test available to determine if your collie is affected, a carrier, or not
affected. It is a simple cheek swab.
HEARTWORM PREVENTION TO USE
FOR YEARS THERE WAS ONLY
ONE TYPE OF HEARTWOM PREVENTATIVE TO USE. THAT WAS THE DAILY PILL THAT
CONTAINED THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT, DIETHLYCARBAMAZINE (DEC). THIS PILL WAS
CHANGED FROM A NOT SO EXCITING TABLET TO A CHEWABLE DAILY TREAT UNDER MANY
BRAND NAMES, THE MOST POPULAR BEING, FILARIBITS.
IN THE EIGHTIES MONTHLY
HEARTWORM PILLS HIT THE MARKET. THE FIRST WAS HEARTGUARD. THIS CONTAINED THE
ACTIVE INGREDIENT, IVERMECTIN. THE NEXT TO HIT THE SHELVES WAS INTERCEPTOR,
AGAIN A MONTHLY PILL, THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT BEING MILBEMYCIN. THEN CAME
REVOLUTION. THIS WAS A MONTHLY TOPICAL PREPARATION THAT CONTAINED SELAMECTIN.
THIS WAS APPLIED IN A LIQUID FORM BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES. TO MAKE
HEARTWORM PREVENTION EVEN EASIER THAN ONCE A MONTH THREAPY, FORT DODGE PUT OUT
PROHEART 6. THIS WAS AN INJECTION THAT WAS GIVEN EVERY 6 MONTHS TO PREVENT
UP UNTIL LATELY, DOGS THAT
COULD NOT TOLERATE THE MONTHLY OR SEMIANNUALLY HEARTWORM PREVENTION, COULD
ALWAYS OPT FOR THE DAILY FILARIBITS. NOW FILARIBITS ARE OFF THE MARKET. AT
PRESENT THERE IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR FILARIBITS.
I HAVE CHANGED ALL MY
DAILY DOGS TO INTERCEPTOR SINCE THE NUMBER OF COLLIES REACTING
TO THIS LONG TERM PREVENTATIVE IS LESS THAN WITH ANY OTHER PREPARATION.
Here are some links to
websites giving more information on Ivermectin sensitivity in Collies:
OFA stands for Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals. It is a "not for profit organization", with the
purpose to "provide a standardized evaluation for hip dysplasia and to serve
as a data base for control of hip dysplasia through selective breeding." In
order to receive an OFA number, a dog has to be at least 24 months or older
on the day of his X-rays. Younger dogs can be x-rayed and evaluated but
cannot receive an OFA number. Many breeders do this as a potential early
screening. Because of the difficult positioning of the rear legs, (they must
be extended and pulled parallel), most dogs require sedation or anesthetic.
Film identification is extremely important. Permanent film identification in
the film emulsion is required for all radiographs. Upon completion of
X-rays, the owner fills out an OFA application. The radiograph, signed
application and fee are then submitted to OFA. OFA also recommends that a
copy of a dog's AKC registration be enclosed.
Once the x-rays are
received by OFA the process first begins by screening the X-rays for correct
positioning and technique. If acceptable, the X-rays are then evaluated by
(3) board certified Veterinary radiologists and a consensus of their
opinions is taken. "The hips are evaluated for subluxation, shallow
acetabulum (socket), femoral head/neck remodeling, acetabular rim/edge
changes and degenerative joint diseases."
GRADING CATEGORIES ARE: Excellent, good and fair....all
considered Normal and will receive OFA numbers. Borderline......Recommend a
recheck in 6-8 months. Mild, Moderate and severe...Dysplastic.
As with CERF, in order for
the OFA number to be on the dog's AKC registration form, as of July 1, 1996, a
dog must be either tattooed or micro-chipped at the time the X-rays are
taken. This identification should be noted on the X-rays. OFA sends a
quarterly report of OFA numbers to AKC.
The OFA number is similar
to the CERF number, in that each element has a precise meaning. Using the
number... CO-1620E24M-T as an example..CO is the breed identifier (in this
case for Collie); 1620 is the ascending numerical order of normal
individuals assigned a breed registry number; E stands for Excellent; 24 is
the age in months when the x-rays were taken; M is for the sex of the dog
and T stands for tattoo. An OFA number is good for the entire lifetime of
the dog, but OFA reserves the right to correct or revoke any number.
Of added interest, OFA is
branching out into other areas of health, with the recent addition of a
Canine Thyroid Registry and a registry for Congenital Heart Disease as of
Further information on OFA
may be obtained by writing or calling: OFA at 2300 E. Nifong Blvd,
Columbia MO 65201-0418, telephone 1-573-442-0418; Also information may be
obtained from The American Kennel Club, at 1-919-233-9767. Here is a link to
Written by Gayle Kaye -
from the April 1998 CCA Bulletin.
CANINE CYCLIC NEUTROPENIA
There's a new genetic DNA
test for "Grey Collie Syndrome" or as it's officially known......Canine
A blood disorder that is
present at birth, affected puppies are smaller and weaker, with a noticeable
pale gray or pinkish/gray or beige color. This blood disorder affects red
and white blood cell production approximately every 10 to 12 days. Due to
the cyclic nature of the disease, these puppies rarely live beyond a couple
of days and when they do survive, they are extremely susceptible to all
sorts of infections. With treatment they can be kept alive, but few have
lived beyond a couple of years old.
Gray Collies have been
documented in many different Collie bloodlines for more than 60 years and
coincidentally the disease is also present in humans. Both sire and dam need
to be carriers in order for the gene to present itself (autosomal
recessive). However, it should be noted that carriers do not manifest the
Idiopathic epilepsy is a
"diagnosis of exclusion" - there is no test at this time that says "yes,
this dog has epilepsy". A dog experiencing repeated seizures, with no
identifiable underlying cause (tests run to exclude things that can cause a
seizure), is diagnoses as an idiopathic epileptic. Most people don't run
every test known to veterinary medicine, as that's quite expensive and
probably not productive in terms of changing the treatment plan, but there
are basic tests that rule out major things. We have info on testing and why
to do or not do various tests in the "Basics" section of our website -
http://www.canine-epilepsy.net/. Bottom line, a dog experiencing seizures is
affected with seizures; repeated seizures over time, the dog is called an
epileptic - but could be primary (idiopathic) or secondary epilepsy (caused
by something, such as a tumor, etc).
When we see idiopathic
epilepsy in dogs in their prime - 1-5yrs - when they should be healthy and
have no problems, tests show no underlying cause, it is generally assumed
they have inherited "something" that is allowing them to seize. That
"something" is what we're trying to find. When we can identify the mutation,
or find a marker linked to the disease, then there WILL be a test for
inherited epilepsy. We're not there yet though!
Animal Molecular Genetics
Laboratory University of Missouri - College of Veterinary Medicine
the Collie Club Of America established the Collie Club Of America
Foundation, Inc. The concept for this organization was conceived by the late
R.L. Rickenbaugh, a longtime breeder, along with his wife Hilda, of the
Bannerblu Collies. With the
Collie Club of America's
assistance and cooperation, the reality of the organization was set into
motion. The benefits would be two-fold. Not only would it provide tax
deductions for potential donors, but it would result in additional income to
the club, for some very worthwhile causes. Previously, the Collie Club of
America was only able to give limited support for collie medical research
and related activities. Health problems, such as Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA),
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Bloat, Epilepsy, skin problems,
Dermatomyositis (DM) and Grey Collie Syndrome, that can affect the collie
breed, need significant funding if they are ever to be conquered. Thus, the
Foundation was born, with the primary function of addressing the breed's
major health problems. Its main purpose is to issue grants to worthwhile
organizations for research in breeding, genetics and health issues of all
dogs, with the primary emphasis on Veterinary research as it relates
directly to the Collie. So far the Foundation has given grants to the
following areas of research: Bloat, Grey Collie, Epilepsy, eye diseases
(most notably PRA), DM and many other health related problems. The very
important message of the Foundation is "funding research" and "education."
It is a "not-for-profit" corporation that receives its funds through
membership donations, fund raising activities and other contributions such
as $1 from every CCA member's dues. The larger the Foundation's membership
becomes, the more generous its grants for research can be. In essence, the
Foundation has filled a large void, as prior to its establishment, the
club's commitment to medical research was very limited. Many other breed
clubs, including the American Kennel
have followed suit and established their own Health Foundations (AKCCHF),
using the CHF as the role model. The Collie Club of America was and is a
leader in this area.
Goals of the Collie Health Foundation
Promote appreciation and knowledge of dogs
in general and Collies in particular.
To further understanding of the diseases,
defects, injuries, and other ailments that afflict dogs in general &
Collies in particular.
To sponsor medical research on health
problems, genetics, breeding and history.
Establish a national data base of resource
materials about Collies.
To sponsor medical research on health
problems, genetics, breeding and history.
Distribute Educational Materials on
to meet these objectives, every year the Foundation awards financial
Grants to selected individuals and organizations. Periodic reports of
these research projects, are published in the
newsletter.. In its ongoing pursuit of providing the Collie fancy with
important educational and research tools, the Foundation has sponsored book
projects, such as "The Collective Writings of Bobbee Roos." We also
sponsored the two book by Kristina Marshall, "His Dogs" and "The Lost
Stories of Albert Payson Terhune." Other health and educational materials
are also occasionally made available to the Foundation membership. Our most
recent project is a comprehensive Health Survey, which hopefully will give
us an understanding of the current status of the breed's health. This will
provide an ongoing aid in determining our Collie health priorities when
seeking Grant funding.