Eye Matters

We are fortunate to have one of the healthiest breeds. To ensure we keep the Giant Schnauzer as vigorous as it is today, it is vitally important we address any known health issue.

Hereditary Cataracts (HC), is one condition found in Giant Schnauzers, so the Club recommends that any dog or bitch must have a ‘current’ clear eye certificate (less than 12 months old) from a KC/BVA Eye Panelist, before being used in a breeding programme. List of BVA Eye Panelists can be found on the link below.
A single test is simply not enough. The condition can present itself at various ages; there are examples of Giants which had ‘clear’ eye tests at 5-years old, only to find they are ‘HC-affected’ within the next year or so. This is why it is so important that Giant Schnauzers are eye tested annually, into old age.
This type of cataract (posterior, polar, sub-capsular or ‘ppsc’) is seen in a number of breeds including Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Belgian Shepherd Dogs. In general, the incidence of ‘ppsc’ cataracts is found in 3% to 5% of the breeds affected.
In Giants, with a UK population of around 3,000, this means there may be currently between 90 & 150 Giants with hereditary cataracts.
We have DNA samples from just 5! If we could obtain 10 or 15 more, we would have enough to commence research to produce a DNA test and begin to eradicate the condition.
Unfortunately the exact mode of inheritance has not yet been defined. Only by testing dogs and bitches annually, will we keep the problem at a low level. If a dog is diagnosed as ‘affected’, then DNA samples are of immense value for future research.
With your agreement, the eye panelist should take a DNA sample at no charge. Alternatively, the Club can easily arrange for you to receive swabs, so you could do it yourself. Written instructions on how, and where to send it, plus what you else you send (copy of eye cert, etc) are included. ‘Collection’ really is simple.

The Giant Schnauzer Club strongly recommends that:
When breeding:
Any Stud Dog must be eye-tested annually (having an eye certificate less than 12 months old, like an MoT for eyes). Always ask to see its current ‘clear’ eye certificate. If you’re told the dog doesn’t need a clear eye certificate or has an out of date one (over 12 months old), carefully reconsider the mating.
Any Bitch must have a ‘clear’ eye certificate before being mated. If an owner asks to use your dog, then insist on seeing the ‘clear’ eye certificate of the bitch. If she doesn’t have one, or the certificate is out of date (over 12 months old), carefully reconsider the mating.
Buying a Puppy:
When viewing a litter of puppies, ask to see the ‘clear’ eye certificate of the Mum and ask the breeder to confirm that the Dad had a ‘clear’ eye certificate. If they can’t, then consider buying a puppy from another breeder.
Such breeders are not following the Club’s Code of Ethics, nor are they doing what they should, to ensure this eye problem is contained.
Litter Screening
All puppies should be eye screened for Multi-focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD - see below) between at 6 -12 weeks, but prior to leaving the breeder. Ask for a copy of the Litter Screening Form and, if the breeder tells you their litter doesn’t need this screening – consider buying a puppy from another breeder.

Multi-focal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) is a non-progressive congenital condition. Usually there is no more than one or two small folds in the retina that cause no problems whatsoever to the dog. So long as the sight is unaffected, it makes no difference to a dog’s ability to work or as a pet. However, those affected should not be bred from.
 
Normally MRD is caused by a simple recessive gene passed from both parents. It can also be caused by environmental problems during pregnancy (such as exposure to Parvovirus, for example). Puppies can be screened for MRD before leaving their breeder.