It is known that HC is inherited by and automal recessive path (i.e. both parents must be carriers of the defective gene to produce and affected offspring). HC is a progressive condition and this means that although a puppy is not born with cataracts they will start to develop at a juvenile age. (maybe from 8 months onwards), and will progress until the dog is totally blind. This condition is bilateral which means is affects both eyes equally. Thanks to the tireless research by the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket there is a now a DNA Test for SBT.
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 able to produce affected pups. Under most circumstances, there will be a much greater number of carriers than affected animals in a population. It is important to eliminate such carriers from a breeding population since they represent a hidden reservoir of the disease that can produce affected dogs at any time.

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 2 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.



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