Pre Christmas it was asked what direction the blog should take? Political, more controversial, go deeper into things were three of the thoughts. Before the winter break eye testing came up….Ali Seall puts the following up for discussion.
The majority of Glen breeders are having their Glens DNA tested for GPRA-crd3, or they are using Hereditary Clear breeding stock. BUT WHAT ABOUT EYE TESTING? The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme’s Recommendation for member breeders is Annual Eye Testing. GOITA’s Code of Ethics states, “It is recommended that all dogs should still be eye-tested periodically as a safeguard against further eye conditions.” Professor Peter Bedford, Veterinary Ophthalmologist, writes for GOITA’s Health page, “As a breed you have already developed the discipline of eye examination and you should continue, to be certain that another problem does not become entrenched within the breed …… Eye examination is essential to ensure that our delightful breed remains free from other potential ocular [eye] disease.”
There has never really been any serious uptake of regular eye testing, other than from some breeders and some “show” people. Looking at the figures now, it would appear that even “established” breeders have all but given up on eye testing their breeding stock.
ABS BREEDERS: Five of the six ABS breeders/breeding partnerships have produced 6 litters from bitches in their ownership in 2011 and 2012 i.e. since the DNA test for crd3 was introduced, but only one of the six bitches had an up-to-date eye certificate when she whelped i.e. within the 12 months prior to whelping. Only one stud dog used over this time is owned by an ABS breeder; he sired 4 litters and his eye test certificate was up-to-date for just the first 2 litters.
BITCHES: Seventeen bitches have produced 18 litters during this time, and only three had up-to-date eye certificates. These three bitches are all owned by first-time Glen breeders. Seven bitches have never been eye tested.
DOGS: Nine dogs sired the 18 litters – one dog (x 4 litters); one dog (x 3 litters); two dogs (x 2 litters); and five dogs (x 1 litter). Two stud dogs are resident in Ireland and so the testing status is unknown. Two stud dogs have never been eye tested. Four stud dogs had out-of-date eye test certificates. The remaining stud dog is mentioned under ABS BREEDERS.
A number of Glens were eye tested and DNA tested at a Glen event in July 2010 – these dogs are not included in the following figures. The number of eye test results published in the Qtr 4 (Winter) 2010 to the Qtr 3 (Autumn) 2012 BRS (incl.) is for just 10 Glens. There were 3 dog results, one of whom tested Affected, and 7 bitch results, one of whom was tested under the ECVO Scheme. None of the 3 dogs have sired a litter over this time. Three of the 7 bitches have whelped a litter during this time; they are the 3 bitches owned by first time breeders, and their certificates were “in date” at the time of whelping.
Both GOITA and Professor Bedford have recommended that we, as a breed, continue to eye test to screen for other eye problems. I wonder if the poor uptake of eye testing is because people think that the Glen can’t possibly have any other form of eye disease …? Unfortunately, there IS documented evidence that some Glens have developed other forms of hereditary and congenital eye disease. The numbers are small, but there are conditions that are known to be hereditary, which suggests that there will probably be more cases.
Perhaps now is the time to review our eye testing recommendations? It is breeders who proposed that eye testing should be done “periodically”. But what does this mean …? Should we not define the recommended frequency of eye testing for both breeders and “everyone else”? It is disappointing to note that not one “established” breeder has had an eye test result recorded in the BRS since the DNA Screening Scheme for crd3 was established in October 2010 … and some breeding stock has never been eye tested. The EFG still organises an annual event with eye testing by Professor Bedford, although it is noticeable that the numbers of Glens being tested has tailed right off. GOITA has not organised eye testing since December 2009.
Perhaps we should just abandon eye testing? Should we agree to remove the statements recommending periodic /regular eye testing from the breed club websites, and ask the KC to take off the ABS Recommendation for breeder members to do Annual Eye Testing? Breeders, and especially those in positions of influence i.e. breed club officers and committee members should surely “lead by example” …? If we are not eye testing our breeding stock, then why should we expect anyone else to bother …?
If we DO feel that we should continue eye testing our Glens, then perhaps we need to be a little more specific with our guidelines for breeders and for the rest of the Glen-owning community? The breed club suggestions for eye tests to be done “periodically” and “regularly” are somewhat vague! Any guidelines agreed should be realistic and achievable, and it is hoped that breeders would lead by example and follow any guidelines.
As a starting point for discussion, what about a recommendation for ALL Glens (including breeding stock) to be tested after the age of 10 years old, which would ensure that any potential late onset disease is also picked up? For breeders, would it be reasonable to also recommend that any stud dog or brood bitch has an up-to-date eye certificate at the time of mating? Hopefully, the EFG will continue annual eye testing and GOITA will reinstate annual eye testing – and breeders and breed club members will support these sessions.