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While Border Collies are generally a hardy and healthy breed, they can still be subject to inherited diseases. The breed's general age range is 12-15 years but this also depends on the care that your dog receives. Genetics play a big role as well, and any good breeder will test for known issues within the breed. Unfortunately there are things that can come up, just like with people, that cannot be foreseen, prevented, or sometimes even tested for before hand.
We believe in breeding responsibly to provide families with the best possibility at having a healthy puppy. The parents of any of our litters are health tested prior to breeding. This includes:
- HIPS: X-rays are performed by our veterinarian. She can make evaluations upon normal hips or finding any potential abnormalities within the hip joint. The x-rays are sent onto the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) where they are officially evaluated by their specialists. This is a one time test done at approximately 2 years of age, when the OFA considers the dog to be done growing. Preliminary x-rays can also be sent into the OFA prior to 2 years old for examination.
- EYES: The eyes are examined by a certified ophthalmologist and will be certified as normal, generally recommended yearly (or before a dog is bred if it has been longer than a year. This evaluation for eyes is also through the OFA, or the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF).
- MDR1: This is an important disorder to know about your breed. MDR1 (Multi Drug Resistance) is a disorder that many herding breeds can have. It is an adverse reaction to certain drugs, specifically Ivermectin (which is an active ingredient in heart worm prevention medications). We test our dogs to confirm that they are Normal so this is not something our new puppy owners will have to worry about!
- CEA: Many Collie breeds are known to carry a disease called “Collie Eye Anomaly”, or CEA. It is more technically known as Choroidal Hypoplasia (CH). It is a recessively inherited eye disorder that causes abnormal development of the choroid - an important layer of tissue under the retina of the eye. The symptoms and signs can vary greatly among affected dogs within one breed, between parent and offspring, and even within a litter. The “Mild Disease” is most common in the Collie breeds. It can be recognized by an ophthalmology examination, or a DNA blood test. In more severely affected dogs “Severe Disease” can result in serious vision loss in some cases. More CEA info via Optigen
- CL: Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is among the Border Collies of Australian descent, and it is estimated that up to only 3% of dogs are carriers. CL is a type of lysosomal storage disorder. Lysosomes are the recycling center of cells. It results in accumulation of lysosomal storage bodies in the cells of many tissues of the affected dog. This leads to progressive neuro-degeneration (degeneration of brain and eye cells) and results in severe neurological impairment and early death. Affected dogs appear normal at birth but begin to show symptoms early, around 1-2 years of age. More info about this Canine Storage Disease
Do you know your simple genetics? Many diseases are recessively inherited. What is recessive? It is not like an illness that can be passed via saliva or sneezes. A dog with only ONE defective gene is only a "carrier" and will not shown symptoms of the disease. They can however pass it onto their offspring if they are bred to another dog with the abnormal gene. To have a dog affected by a disease, the gene of the disease must be abnormal within a pair. This will produce a dog affected by the gene, meaning it shows symptoms. This is why there is genetic testing. This chart shows how dogs can be paired.