A variety of eye diseases and conditions can occur in Entlebucher Mountain Dogs as in most breeds of dogs. In this section we address:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy – PRA
DNA Genetic testing for PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is available for The Entlebucher!
The NEMDA Club, through hard work, fundraising, education and co-operation amongst our breeders, was able to work with Cornell and Optigen to make this DNA test available for the Entlebucher as of 2004. NEMDA BCOE Breeders are required to test all breeding stock with Optigen to accurately determine their DNA heritage for this disease.The Entlebucher, like other purebred or mixed breeds of dogs, carry the gene for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is a hereditary disease of the eye that causes blindness.
There are two general types of PRA – early onset and late onset. In early onset PRA, poor vision in low light may be detectable shortly after birth, with total blindness occurring from 1 to 5 years. In late onset PRA, night blindness may occur from 1 to 5 years, progressing to total blindness anytime after 3 years of age. Entlebuchers have the late onset variety with very few afflicted with early onset PRA.
NEMDA BCOE Breeders are required to test their breeding Entlebuchers to find out whether they are Pattern Normal, Carrier or Affected. NEMDA Breeders can then choose accordingly which dog to breed to their own PRA Patterned Entlebucher.
NORMAL/CLEAR (formerly called Pattern A): Homozygous Normal – Clean and clear dog – does not carry any PRA genes
CARRIER (formerly called Pattern B): Heterozygous Healthy Carrier – carries one gene but will never get PRA
AFFECTED (formerly called Pattern C): Homozygous Mutant PRA Afflicted dog – carries two PRA genes and will ultimately go blind
Since testing is now available, no Entlebuchers born after 2004 from NEMDA BCOE breeders will need to suffer from this disease.
Unfortunately, there are some wonderful beloved Entlebuchers already out there that are affected, being born prior to the availability of the test. We have formed an e-group for owners of PRA affected Entlebuchers as well as other Entlebuchers that are blind or going blind from any other reason. Everyone is welcome to chat with other owners, get support and share stories at the PRA SUPPORT GROUP.
Cataracts and Eye Certification Registry (ECR)
The NEMDA BCOE requires a yearly eye exam certified by a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist. The results of this exam are submitted to a central database for all breeds of dogs maintained by Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). The results for Entlebuchers are recorded in the NEMDA Genetic database along with Optigen results.
Dogs, like other animals, are susceptible to numerous eye diseases, some common and some very rare. Some of these can be serious problems like glaucoma. Although not common in Entlebuchers, cases of glaucoma have been reported. The NEMDA BCOE recommends breeding stock be checked for the potential for glaucoma (goniodysplasia exam) but it is not required.
Small Posterior Polar Cataracts (PPC) are somewhat common in Entlebuchers. They can appear at any age and tend not to be progressive. Due to the benign nature of this condition, the NEMDA BCOE allows PPC in our breeding stock. Mature cataracts have been reported and again are not common.
Glaucoma, although rare in Entlebuchers, is an inherited disease in dogs which can lead to blindness and loss of the eyes. Glaucoma is increased pressure inside the eye due to the build up of fluid. If the pectinate ligaments are not formed properly within the eye (goniodysgenesis), the fluids cannot drain and there is an increased risk of glaucoma developing.
Symptoms of glaucoma may include: redness, cloudiness, tearing, vision impairment, squinting, an enlarged eyeball, lethargy, loss of appetite, and unusual aggressiveness due to pain. If not treated early, blindness or loss of the eyes will occur.
Gonioscopy is a technique used which helps to determine the predisposition for glaucoma and can be done at the same time as a CERF exam. It only needs to be done one time. If abnormalities are present, medical treatment can be initiated to prevent or reduce the risk of future problems. Breeders are highly encouraged to have a gonioscopy performed on their breeding dogs.