Canine Hip Dysplasia Resources
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a hereditary eye disease that causes blindness. PRA is a relatively new problem for Bernese and a cause of great concern among breeders and owners. For now only the conscientious efforts of knowledgeable breeders can stop PRA from spreading throughout the population. The following facts are known:
There are early and late onset forms of the disease with symptoms being detected between a few months and five years. Blindness can occur between 1 year and old age. Annual eye examinations (commonly called CERF exams) can detect symptoms of the disease and lead to a definitive diagnosis. Dogs that pass this exam may be registered with either CERF or the GDC but the exam must be repeated yearly. The usual inheritance mode of PRA is autosomal recessive which is fairly simple compared to dysplasia and histiocytosis. In genetic terms a dog is either normal, a carrier, or affected. Normal dogs and carriers do not get PRA - only affected dogs get the disease. At present, there is no way to distinguish normal dogs from carriers. Research is underway to develop a test for carriers so that they can be eliminated as breeding stock, however, this will take time and money.
Experts advise against using any affected dog, any known carrier, or any dog with a 25% or greater probability of being a carrier. Unfortunately for the Entlebucher, not all breeders heed that advise or perhaps they are ignorant of it. This results in breeding dogs being diagnosed as affected after producing several litters. Now all pups with direct lineage to the affected dog is a potenial carrier rendering all offspring as poor breeding risks. This can create a vicious cycle where ultimately the breed itself loses. If the breeding dogs are young, it is advised to see the history of their dam & sires. Good CERF history of the up-lineage done in the dogs senior years is most revealing. A CERF rating issued to a dog at a young age reveals nothing about how that dog will develop. Seeing the up lineage gives you the best prospective of what you should be able to expect based upon a history of the lines in question.