eyeCongenital Hereditary Cataracts (CHC), Hereditary Cataracts (HC) and Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), can occur in the Miniature Schnauzer. Every attempt must be made to eradicate such problems from the breed and it is strongly recommended that all Miniature Schnauzers be eye-tested annually, by Veterinary Surgeons registered to perform such eye examinations, under the British Veterinary Association/The Kennel Club (BVA/KC) scheme.

The Need to Eye Test regularly is vital and that a BVA/KC Panelist checks our Miniature Schnauzers, especially breeding stock, annually, up to about 8 years of age. A current list of Eye Panelists and their locations can be found by following the link to the BVA website www.bva.co.uk (click on Canine Health Schemes, then on Eye Scheme – this will also show the latest costs). As we strive to eradicate these conditions, we urge all Miniature Schnauzer owners to eye-test annually.

What should we do if our 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 secretary of any of the 3 breed clubs and / or the secretary of JMSEF. They will inform you that swab kits are available either from the JMSEF secretary or directly via the AHT. You will also be informed that the information you give will be treated in the strictest of confidence and that it is a simple process to obtain the DNA from the dog’s cheeks using the swabs. You will then need to send the swabs, along with the eye certificate and a copy of the pedigree in an envelope to the AHT. You will also be advised to inform the breeder of your dog / bitch. Please contact the secretary of JMSEF for further information and any help you feel you need on isaura12@btinternet.com

If my dog is diagnosed with CHC, HC or PRA, why should we tell anyone?
Things can occur even in the most carefully planned breeding programmes, but it is only through this exchange of information, that we will eventually remove these problems from our favourite breed. It is so important to tell the owners of the sire and dam, because neither dog should be bred from again. Also, it is important to tell the owners of the other puppies in the litter, because these should either not be bred from or bred from with great care

Why hasn’t a solution been found yet?
The mode of inheritance, described as ‘recessive’, makes it impossible to identify those that carry the gene without a DNA test. This is why we are raising money to fund research.
The Animal Health Trust is planning research programmes so that blood tests will be able to identify the defective genes that cause these inherited conditions, but there is a tremendous amount of work still to do.

What are the breed clubs doing about it?
All the UK Clubs involved with the Miniature Schnauzer (Miniature Schnauzer Club, Northern Schnauzer Club and Schnauzer Club of Great Britain) support the BVA/KC Eye-Testing Scheme, they organise low cost eye-testing sessions and are raising funds, through the Joint Miniature Schnauzer Eye Fund (JMSEF), to initiate these research programmes with the Animal Health Trust.

A current list of the 33 Eye Panelists, all their locations and costs can be found on the BVA website, www.bva.co.uk