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Health Issues

Eyes defects of varying severity are the most common disorder in the Miniature Australian Shepherd.

Iris Colobomas:
are a cleft in the iris of the eye and will impair vision if large. A dog with a small IC may be sensitive to bright light.

Juvenile Cataracts:
are a congenital opacity of the lens of the eye due to abnormal early degeneration of the lens tissue. They cause gradual, painless deterioration of sight, resulting in partial or complete blindness by 2 to 5 years of age.

Offset or Oval Shaped Pupils:
are usually due to multiple small iris colobomas. Impairment varies from mild light sensitivity to moderate vision loss.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy:
is common in many breeds of dogs and has been identified in Australian Shepherds. It affects the entire retina and is the canine equivalent of retinitis pigmentosa. This disease is usually detectable at an early age (6 to 8 weeks). Puppies may be blind by six to eight months. An ophthalmologic examination by an ACVO-certified vet should be able to identify cases of PRA. All dogs affected with PRA eventually go blind. Carriers show no clinical symptoms. Symptoms are subtle, starting with night blindness, some eye dilation, progressing to complete blindness. It is quite common not to notice anything wrong until the dog is nearly completely blind.

Current research is beginning to isolate the genetic markers for this disease. At present, there is a genetic test to identify carrier and affected dogs in the Irish Setter. This disease is thought to be a simple autosomal recessive gene, thus two recessive genes are needed for a dog to be affected and an affected dog's parents are either carriers or also affected.

Canine Hip Dysplasia:
is the dislocation of the hip joint; it occurs when the head of the femur (thighbone) does not properly fit into a too shallow acetabulum, the cup-socket at the base of the hipbone. CHD can either be congenital or caused by contusion. The poor fit eventually results in the deterioration of the joint, with painful and possibly crippling results. CHD has been identified in certain lines of the Miniature Australian Shepherd.

It is safest and also best for OFA results to NOT anesthetize your dog. Please seek out a veterinarian experienced in providing x-rays for this purpose. OFA radiographs require that the dog be at least 2 years old to receive permanent certification, whereas PennHIP may be performed on puppies as young as 4 months but MUST be completed by a PennHIP trained orthopedic veterinarian.

Because CHD is inherited polygenically, the best prevention is to continue to breed only those dogs that have been certified free of CHD. The PennHIP team was able to eliminate CHD from their closed dog population when selecting only for this trait.

Luxating Patella:
is characterized by lameness due to the kneecap slipping out of place. It is inherited.