It is important to note that the Smooth Collie is fortunately a very healthy breed and that the Breed Standards were carefully drawn up in the 1880s to take account of the original purpose and function of the breed. Although minor amendments have been made to these Standards over the years, there is nothing to give rise to concern in terms of exaggeration of type.
The information found here is directed at breeders and anyone considering buying a Smooth Collie should discuss health issues with the breeder of the puppy.
The Kennel Club officially recognises three conditions that affect Collies (and several other breeds) - CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly), PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and hip dysplasia. Screening has been greatly enhanced by the introduction of DNA testing over the last few years and two further conditions are being monitored in the breed, MDR1 (multi drug resistance) and DM (Degenerative Myelopathy).
None of these conditions are exclusive to Smooth Collies but the Club is encouraging breeders to screen and hopefully gradually eliminate where possible whilst ensuring that diversity is maintained to prevent other conditions being introduced.
The KC Assured Breeder Scheme requires all breeding dogs to have annual eye screening and recommends that they are hip scored and DNA tested for CEA and MDR1. It is also recommended that all puppies are eye screened by an approved canine ophthalmologist at between 5-12 weeks of age .
The Kennel Club now requires every breed club to elect a Health Co-ordinator to advise them on any initiatives being taken to promote the breeding of healthy dogs and the possible elimination of inherited conditions.
Our Health Co-ordinator is also collating information on any dogs that suffer from serious illness or die before the normal life span so that any trends can quickly be identified and help sought from geneticists.
All data is anonymised before publication and reports can be submitted on the form to right of this page.
The Smooth Collie is part of the Give a Dog A Genome initiative.
KC report on Breed Diversity HERE
COLLIE EYE ANOMALY
MDR - MULTI DRUG RESISTANCE
Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is a non-progressive congenital condition found in Smooth Collies and a number of other herding breeds.
It is an abnormality of the choroid layer and presents as a pale patch due to a localised lack of pigment in the dorso-lateral region of the choroid near the optic disc.
It was first identified in the 1960s and originally the only way to identify affected dogs was by ophthalmologic screening and this is still recommended for all puppies at 5-12 weeks of age.
DNA testing is now available and should be considered for all breeding stock as the breed is luckily in a very good position to gradually eliminate the condition Dogs may be clinically clear of CEA when examined by an ophthalmologist but it is not possible to tell if they are carriers and therefore able to transmit the condition to their offspring.
Although the majority of dogs with CEA appear to show no visual defects, there is a risk when breeding from two 'affected' dogs that there is a risk of blind puppies
Although listed by the Kennel Club as a condition found in Rough and Smooth Collies the incidence in the United Kingdom is very small, but owners do need to be aware of it as it is more common abroad.
There are two main types that affect collies:
Retinal Pigment Epithelial Dystrophy (RPED)thatis more commonly known asCentralised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) and is a mature onset condition that results in slowly deteriorating vision and eventual blindness. Mode of inheritance is not known but it is thought that it may be caused by a metabolic imbalance. The incidence has greatly reduced over the years and it is thought that modern quality feeds with added vitamin E may be the reason.
It is still recommended by the BVA and KC that dogs are eye checked annually from about 18 months of age as deteriorating vision can be halted by treatment with Vitamin E (no improvement can be expected for lost vision however).
There is no DNA test for this condition (CPRA) and it is the PRA most associated with Smooth Collies in the UK.
Generalised PRA or Rod/Cone Dysplasia type II (rcd2)
This is more common in American-bred collies and is an early onset autosomal recessive inherited disease similar to the early-onset form of human Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Night blindness is the earliest clinical sign, detectable in six week old puppies, and affected dogs eventually become totally blind and cataract formation is common. There is no cure.
There is a DNA test for this condition (GPRA) and the laboratories list it as PRA-rcd2.
During the 1980s there were reports of collies and other herding breeds dying and being ill when given a worming medication called Ivermectin.
Researchers found that this was due to a defective gene that allowed certain drugs to cross the 'blood brain barrier' and cause neurological symptoms. This defect was eventually found to have originated during the late 19th century in the UK.
The condition is known as MDR1 and is thought to affect approximately 60% of Rough and Smooth Collies who are also susceptible to other drugs that have now been identified.
Affected dogs can live normal and healthy lives as long as they are not given these particular drugs and in the majority of cases there are alternatives.
However there are unfortunately some vets who are still unaware of the importance of MDR1 in herding breeds. The Club recommends that all dogs are DNA tested so that their status can be reported to the vet and records marked accordingly.
Letters for vets, laboratories offering DNA testing (simple cheek swab) and a list of the drugs to be avoided are provided at the top of this page on right.
Some people think that all Smooth Collies should be treated as 'affected' and do not DNA test, but this denies those who are 'normal' or 'carriers' access to the full choice of optimum treatments in the case of any illness or accident.
Symptoms of a reaction include excessive salivation, ataxia, blindness, coma and respiratory problems and immediate veterinary advice should be sought, Please be aware that Ivermectin type drugs are used in the worming of farm animals and horses and may be excreted in the faeces so affected dogs should be prevented from eating the droppings.
DNA results describe the dog as 'normal' (+/+), where they can only pass on healthy genes to their offspring and do not exhibit drug toxicity.
'Carrier' (+/-) dogs have received one abnormal gene and one healthy gene from their parents and can pass on the defect and care needs to be taken with choice of mate when breeding. Although most carriers do not exhibit toxicity, they are susceptible to some sedatives and doses may need to be reduced.
'Affected' (-/-) dogs receive two mutant genes and will show toxicity to listed drugs and can only pass on defective genes to their offspring.
Canine hip dysplasia is a congenital, inherited malformation of the hip joint where the ball or head of the femur does not fit snugly into the socket.
If the cartilage that lines and cushions the hip joint is damaged by trauma or excessive exercise (especially as a puppy) it loses its thickness and elasticity. This in turn reduces its shock-absorbing qualities as the joint attempts to stabilise itself during movement and a cycle of damage, inflammation and pain occurs.
In addition to excessive exercise, hip dysplasia is also influenced by other environmental factors such as obesity.
There are a number of dogs with dysplasia who may have severe arthritis but be able to run, jump and play as if nothing were wrong and others with minimal radiographic changes that show severe lameness.
It is not possible to tell the hip status of a dog without X-rays and we encourage all breeders to have their dogs screened before breeding to ensure that genetic factors are kept to a minimum. Fortunately the Smooth Collie does appear to have low scores but very few are tested and it would be very easy to be complacent and unaware that a problem has crept into the breed.
Canine degenerative myelopathy (also known as degenerative radiculomyelopathy-CDRM) is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 7 & 14 years of age. The mutated gene has been found in more than 40 breeds including collies.
Luckily it is not thought to be a painful condition and mentally the dogs remain normal. It starts with dragging of toes, uneven nail growth in the back feet and ataxia leading eventually to paralysis in the hind legs. There is no cure and numbers of Smooth Collies affected have been small. Again DNA testing is available and recommended, as although transmission is not fully understood the symptoms do not appear until after a dog has been used for breeding so it is a valuable tool to prevent introducing it into our small gene pool.
CONTACT OUR HEALTH CO-ORDINATOR