Clover, a 10-week-old puppy, has been saved from blindness thanks to genetic research conducted at the Animal Health Trust.

A DNA test for primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), a painful condition which eventually leads to blindness in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, was created and launched by the AHT in 2015. At this time, it was believed 1 in 20 Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppies would grow up to be affected with this blinding disease.

Three years later, we’re very pleased to say that through responsible breeders using the DNA test, there have been NO Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen puppies affected with POAG in the UK reported to The Kennel Club.

Clover, and hundreds of puppies just like her, will never develop this form of glaucoma thanks to research conducted at the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the AHT. The test results demonstrate how appropriate DNA testing can lead to the immediate disappearance of a recessive disease, improving the health and wellbeing of countless dogs and their families. But we need your support to continue our research into numerous other genetic conditions affecting other breeds.

The creation of DNA tests to fight inherited diseases in dogs is just one way the Animal Health Trust is helping to make dogs happy and healthier. Through our Cures4Paws campaign, we are raising awareness of the work we’re doing to combat cancer, epilepsy and blindness – serious conditions affecting thousands of dogs across the UK every day.

One breeder who has seen first-hand the benefits of this DNA test is Viv Phillips, who said: “As the breeder who first announced I had a dog affected by POAG I was delighted to work with the AHT and Prof Peter Bedford for 18 years in the research into this disease. I know how tough it is to not be able to avoid your dog going blind at a relatively young age. When the AHT discovered the DNA mutation in November 2014 which was subsequently launched at Crufts in 2015 it was the most wonderful result.

“I tested the PBGVs I still had, including their older parents, and was able to ascertain that puppies I had bred were either at no risk of going blind or sadly carried the gene and therefore treatment could be started to prolong their eyesight. Since this time I have bred 12 puppies and I am delighted that I know they will not be affected as a result of using the DNA test.

“Worldwide approximately 1800 Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen have been tested, and in the UK no puppies have been recorded as affected in the last three years. It is not a numerically large breed and if we can continue to spread the word worldwide and convince breeders to test their breeding stock, we can – with the help of the AHT – look forward to eliminating this awful disease completely.”

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics at the AHT, said: “Years of work went into developing this DNA test which makes it even more rewarding to see it used so well to stop these lovely dogs from going blind. Glaucoma is a very debilitating and painful disease and some dogs have to their eyes removed as a result.

“We are studying glaucoma, and many other blinding diseases, in lots of dog breeds. These mutations can also affect cross bred as well as purebred dogs, so as the popularity of cross bred dogs continues to rise, DNA health testing is more important than ever to make sure you’re breeding, or buying, puppies that are going to have the very best start in life.

Great things can be achieved through genetic research and as humans suffer many of the same diseases as dogs, there is always the possibility that our research is going to help human medicine as well.  Unfortunately research is expensive and we always need more funding to be able to continue to maintain and expand our research of inherited diseases, including more complex diseases, such as epilepsy.”