When looking for a puppy, any caring and responsible breeder will be able to show you Eye Test Certificates of the mother and confirm that the sire has a clear certificate (both should dated within the previous 12 months). You would also be given a copy of the Litter Screening Form to prove that the litter is clear of eye problems when you purchase the puppy.
Cataracts (both 'Hereditary' and 'Congenital Hereditary' forms) and Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), occur in the Miniature Schnauzer. Every endeavour must be made to eradicate such problems from the breed and it is strongly recommended that all Miniature Schnauzers are eye-tested annually, by Vets registered to undertake such eye examinations, under British Veterinary Association/The Kennel Club (BVA/KC) Eye Scheme.
When should we Eye Test? Puppies can be eye-tested for the Congenital Hereditary form of Cataracts at about 6 - 8 weeks, before their sale as show dogs or pets. Identification of either Hereditary Cataract (HC) or PRA requires annual examinations, as these conditions both develop later.
Hereditary Cataract can only be diagnosed from about 6 months onward and sometimes even later than aged 2 years. Therefore all Miniature Schnauzers should be eye-tested again by the age of 12 months.
PRA may not appear until 2 years of age upwards, but may be detected in some breeds at any point between 6 months and 6 years. The earliest reported case in Miniature Schnauzers was in a 3 year old. So, all Miniature Schnauzers in breeding plans should be eye-tested annually.
The Need to Eye Test regularly It is imperative that all Miniature Schnauzers and Giant Schnauzers, especially breeding stock, are checked annually, up to about 8 years of age, by a BVA/KC Panellist. Ask your breeder or Vet, to give you more information and to tell you how to obtain the name of your closest Eye Panellist Vet.
What should I do if my Dog has problems? If your dog is diagnosed with any of these eye problems or any other, it is in the interest of all Miniature Schnauzers, to advise The Schnauzer Club of Great Britain, Northern Schnauzer Club or the Miniature Schnauzer Club, and the breeder.
If my dog is diagnosed with CHC, HC or PRA, why should we tell anyone? Things occur even in the most carefully planned breeding programmes; it is only through exchange of information that will we eventually eradicate these problems from our favourite breed. It is important to tell the owners of the sire and dam, because neither parent should be bred from again. Also, it is important to tell owners of the other puppies in the litter, because those should not be bred from.
Why hasn't a solution been found yet? Because of the mode of inheritance, (described as 'recessive') it's not possible to identify those which carry the gene. This can only be shown up by a test mating programme, or by owners of affected dogs advising other owners, through the SCGB, the Miniature or the Northern Club, so that alternative action can be taken for the future. The AHT is planning research programmes to achieve blood tests to identify the defective genes which causes these inherited conditions, but there is a tremendous amount of work still to do.
What are the Breed Clubs doing? The clubs involved with the Miniature Schnauzer breed (Northern, MSC and SCGB) in conjunction with other Clubs, support the BVA/KC Eye-Testing Scheme, organise low-cost eye-testing sessions and are raising funds, through the JMSEF, to initiate these research programmes with the Animal Health Trust. The Giant Schnauzer Club agrees that similar requirements for eye testing Giants - both for litter screening and eye testing of breeding stock - are necessary. A current list of the 31 Eye Panellists and all their locations can be found on the BVA website (www.bva.co.uk click on Canine Health Schemes, then click on Eye Scheme - this will also show the latest costs).
It is now recommended that Giant Schnauzers have eye testing for Hereditary Cataract. The reasons for testing Mature Giants are exactly the same as for Miniatures - see above.
Litter screening of Giant puppies is also highly recommended Testing on Giant puppies is for Multi Focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD - not Cataracts) and can take place between 6 and 12 weeks. Again, all caring and responsible breeder will be able to show you the Litter Screening Form to prove that the litter has been checked for.
Health screening for Hip Dysplasia (hip scoring) of Giant Schnauzers is now on the list of recommended health checks required of Accredited Breeders. Full details about the BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme can be found on the BVA website (www.bva.co.uk).
Please visit the Giant Schnauzer Health Fund website more for information.
Any health issues you want us to cover in future issues? Then let me know. I can't promise to have the answers but I will at least try.
There are currently no health concerns for the Schnauzer