JLM Border Collies 

Border Collie Health

    

"The Border Collie stands alone in its exceptional ability to work livestock. Both the Canadian Border Collie Association and American Border Collie Association defines the breed by this working ability. The main goal of any Border Collie breeder should be to produce sound, useful, working dogs. While Border Collies also excel in many non-herding activities, they should be bred ultimately for their ability to work livestock.  The integrity and preservation of this breed's ability to work livestock  lies ultimately with the breeders. Breeders of this wonderful working breed should take this responsibility very seriously.  Border Collie breeders breeding specifically for the conformation show ring are jeopardizing this breed's natural ability to work livestock and their primary use as the world's best herding dogs."


The Border Collie breed is a comparatively sound and healthy breed of dog with few breed specific disorders.  However there are a few genetic ailments that are present in the breed that both breeder's and potential puppy buyers should know about:   

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is a congenital disorder where the parts of the eye, particularly the retinal area, do not develop normally. The severity of the disease ranges from no visual impairment to blindness. It is not a progressive disease and affected dogs usually have only mildly impaired vision. CEA is an autosomal recessive disorder. Autosomal means it is passed on and expressed equally in males or females. Recessive means a dog may carry a mutated CEA gene and pass it on to its offspring without having the disease itself. A dog is defined as Clear (or Normal) if it does not have a mutated CEA gene. A dog is defined as a Carrier if it has one mutated CEA gene and one normal gene. The eyes of both the Carrier and the Clear dogs will be normal and unaffected by the disease. A dog which has two mutated CEA genes is defined as Affected.  It is estimated that 2.5% of all border collies are affected with CEA, with as many as 25% being Carriers.
It is recommended that breeders utilize the OptiGen test to determine the status of all dogs used for breeding. A Clear (genetics rated Normal) dog bred to a Clear ( genetics rated Normal) dog will produce only Clear puppies, so the offspring of such a mating need not be DNA tested; their status is known. An Affected dog should be bred only to a Normal rated dog, and only when the dog's exceptional merits are such as to justify a breeding that will produce pups which will all be Carriers. Carriers, too, should be bred only to Clear dogs, in order to avoid producing affected pups.  However, breeders should not exclude Carriers from their breeding program, as this would be detrimental to the goal of maintaining the highest level of working ability in our breed by constricting the gene pool too tightly. All pups with a Carrier parent should be tested to determine their CEA status before being bred. If testing all breeding stock is not feasible, at a minimum breeders should ensure that one parent of any litter is DNA Clear, as this is the only way to be sure that Affected pups will not be produced. Breeders and owners should be frank and forthcoming in informing anyone inquiring about a breeding or a puppy purchase about the CEA status of the dogs involved, and the significance of that for any offspring that are produced from such breedings.


Hip Dysplasia is a complex  genetic disorder affecting the hip joint in dogs. Dogs affected with HD exhibit developmental factors in the joint leading to the breakdown of cartilage and bone in response to inflammation and joint stress.  This damage is known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Unfortunately it is not as easy to control or predict genetically as CEA, as there is not just one but possibly as many as six different genes that control the development of this disorder. 

The best way, at this time, to help avoid producing puppies with a predisposition to develop HD is to test both parents and be aware of the hip status of other related dogs such as the the parents' parents, and the littermates of the parents. The more tested, unaffected dogs there are in the pedigrees, the better the chances of producing unaffected pups. Unfortunately, even following the most stringent guidelines, puppies may still be produced that will develop HD as even parent's with good rated hips can potentially be carriers of the necessary genes to produce a pup with HD.  If an affected pup is produced by a crossing, a breeder should at least respect that that breeding has the potential recipe for producing HD, and therefore avoid that particular crossing again if possible. 

Until science has unravelled the genetic mystery of hip dysplasia completely, giving the ability to predict the outcome of progency absolutely , breeders can only do there best at avoiding producing pups with this disorder.  However by selecting to breed only structurally sound dogs that also of course possess great working instinct, at least we are doing our best to preserve the strengths of the border collie breed.

Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS)  is an inherited disease where the bone marrow produces neutrophils (white blood cells) but is unable to effectively release them into the blood stream.  Affected pups have an impaired immune system and will eventually die from failure to fight off infection.  Once thought to be a relatively rare disorder, it is now believed that the disease has gone undiagnosed many times due to several factors. Firstly, not many vets are familiar with TNS and know how to recognize it.  Second, even if TNS is present, blood work can still appear fairly normal with wbc's being in an acceptable range.  Finally, the nature of the disease causes the affected pup to show a variety of symptoms pending on the infection that it is fighting.  Most affected pups with TNS die or are euthanized by 4 months of age.  TNS is an autosomal recessive disorder, and like CEA, both parents must be carriers of the defective gene to produce an affected pup.  As long as one parent is genetically NORMAL no pups will be produced with TNS. 

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL) is a neurodegenerative disorder which affects people, dogs, and several other species.  It is a rare disease that is also known as Storage Disease.  Affected animals appear completely normal until approximately 12 to 18 months of age, however the defect began way back during embryonic development.  The defect allows the metabolic waste product, called Ceroid lipofuscin, to accumulate in all body cells of the affected animal.  Symptoms begin to emerge when waste build up in brain cells begin to compress and destroy brain tissue.  This deterioration in the brain leads to a range of symptoms including abnormal gait or difficulty placing feet, hyperactivity, fear of familiar objects and surroundings, demented behavior, aggression and rage.  The disease progresses rapidly once initial symptoms appear, and the animal is normally lost by the age of 2.  There is no cure or treatment for CL.  Unlike in some other species where more genes are involved, in border collies a genetic test was possible to develop due to the disorder's inheritance method being within a single gene.  It is autosomal recessive inheritance and both parents must be carriers of CL to produce affected pups.  Because researchers were able to map this genotype, affected pups can be prevented by never mating two carriers together. 



Imerslund-Grasbeck Syndrome (I-GS) also known as Selective Cobalamin Malabsorption.  It is a disorder which causes a pup to be unable to absorb adequate levels of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).  Vit B12 is normally taken in through the small intestine but affected dogs are unable to absorb the vitamin and quickly begin to show signs of deficiency early in life.  Symptoms typically appear by the age of 6 to 12 weeks and include anemia, lethargy, failure to thrive and a poor appetite.  Many afflicted pups are wrongfully diagnosed as Fading Puppy Syndrome and are lost. If diagnosed early, although I-GS can not be cured, it can be managed with regular Cobalamin supplementation.  I-GS in the border collie breed is also an autosomal recessive disorder and both parents must be carriers to produce affected pups.

I would like to take this moment to thank OptiGen Genetics for their superior service and dedicated research.   By providing cutting edge scientific technology, responsible breeders have the tools they need to insure that the breed remains healthy, and pups produced are the best they can be.