Border Collies have three genetic traits that can be identified through DNA testing:
- CEA - Collie Eye Anomaly/Choroidal Hypoplasia is a recessive eye disorder that can cause vision loss in severe cases at about two years old effecting one or both eyes. Milder cases will not develop into vision loss but can produce offspring with severe vision loss when bred with another carrier of CEA. An ophthalmologist can, usually, recognize CEA in pups 5-8 weeks old.
- TNS - Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome is a recessive inherited disorder that affects the Border Collie's immune system. A Border Collie can be a carrier without showing any symptoms.
- CL - Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is a recessive disorder that causes degeneration of brain and eye cells which can result in severe neurological impairment and early death. Onset usually happens around 1-2 years of age with individuals exhibiting varying levels of severity. Progressive motor skills decline, loss of coordination, cognitive decline, seizures and abnormal behavior are the symptoms with life expectancy in severely affected Border Collies usually no longer than 26-28 months.
Bad News - Good News
At the present time there are no known treatments for CEA, TNS & CL - only genetic management. There is DNA testing available to find out if you have any of the genes in your Border Collie line before breeding. I've over simplified the explanation of CEA, TNS & CL to bring it to your attention so that you will do some research on your own before breeding your Border Collie. Through genetic testing and selection we can keep the Border Collie breed strong. OPTIGEN is a company that provides DNA testing and detailed information about inherited diseases of Border Collies (& other canine breeds). I have used their service over the years before ever mating any of my Border Collies.
There have been times when I thought that I had the perfect match until the DNA results arrived, only to discover I would be breeding two carriers! Keeping the Border Collie breed genetically strong is very important. OptiGen has a website: www.optigen.com listing the tests they perform, prices and price breaks if you want to do a testing clinic at a show, Dog Trial, etc.