Hereditary Cataract in Staffordshire Bull Terriers
Hereditary Cataract in Staffordshire Bull Terriers has been recognised as an inherited condition since the late 1970’s. Affected dogs develop cataracts in both eyes at an early age. The condition is not congenital, so the lenses are normal at birth but cataracts appear at a few weeks to months in age, progressing to total cataract (and resulting blindness) by 2 to 3 years of age.
The mutation, or change to the structure of the gene, probably occurred spontaneously in a single dog but once in the population has been inherited from generation to generation like any other gene. The disorder shows an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance: two copies of the defective gene (one inherited from each parent) have to be present for a dog to be affected by the disease. Individuals with one copy of the defective gene and one copy of the normal gene - called carriers - show no symptoms but can pass the defective gene onto their offspring. When two apparently healthy carriers are crossed, 25% (on average) of the offspring will be affected by the disease, 25% will be clear and the remaining 50% will themselves be carriers
The mutation responsible for the disease has recently been identified at the Animal Health Trust. Using the information from this research, we have developed a DNA test for the disease. This test not only diagnoses dogs affected with the disease but can also detect those dogs which are carriers, displaying no symptoms of the disease but are able to produce affected pups if mated to another carrier.
The test is available now and information on submitting samples is given below. Breeders will be sent results identifying their dog as belonging to one of three categories:
CLEAR: the dog has two copies of the normal gene and will neither develop Hereditary Cataract, nor pass a copy of the Hereditary Cataract gene to any of its offspring.
CARRIER: the dog has one copy of the normal gene and one copy of the mutant gene that causes Hereditary Cataract. It will not develop Hereditary Cataract but will pass on the Hereditary Cataract gene to 50% (on average) of its offspring.
AFFECTED: the dog has two copies of the Hereditary Cataract mutation and is affected with Hereditary Cataract. It will develop Hereditary Cataract at some stage during its lifetime, assuming it lives to an appropriate age.
Carriers can still be bred to clear dogs. On average, 50% of such a litter will be clear and 50% carriers; there can be no affecteds produced from such a mating. Pups which will be used for breeding can themselves be DNA tested to determine whether they are clear or carrier.
Samples submitted should be cheek swabs ( a non-invasive sampling method). Sampling kits are obtainable from the Animal Health Trust webshop www.ahtdnatesting.co.uk.
Further information can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org