Midlands Border Collie Club header and logo Midlands Border Collie Club header and logo Midlands Border Collie Club header and logo
Midlands Border Collie Club header and logo Midlands Border Collie Club header and logo Midlands Border Collie Club header and logo


MBCC History


AGM Minutes
Club Rules
Code Of Ethics
Breed Standard
Border Collie Colours

Border Heartbeat

Events Diary

Breed Shows
~MBCC's Judging Criteria
HTM and Freestyle
Junior Handling
Obedience Judging at Crufts
Working Trials

Utility Certificate

Instinct Tests
Tribute to Old Hemp
Polly's Tale

Countryside Matters



Secretary Hilary Kerr

Health Matters


As part of our commitment to maintaining a healthy breed the Midlands Border Collie Club works closely with the Pastoral Breeds Health Foundation to assist in fund raising for research and by running health testing clinics at our shows. The PBHF website contains further information on current research, and also databases with information on genetic test results submitted by Border Collie owners.

The Midlands Border Collie Club have supported over 10 DNA clinics in the last year and are planning to run an eye testing clinic at our October 2016 show.

In addition, MBCC have supported research into the pre-disposition to glaucoma, assisted in obtaining swabs for epilepsy and encourage the use of the PBHF database.

We strongly recommend to our members that all available health tests (both physical and DNA based) are carried out before breeding from any animal, and we are always available to offer help and advice on this matter, including advice on the interpretation of results within a breeding programme.

In 2017 the Kennel Club published a breed health survey - the Border Collie results can be found here.

The following information sets out the various health issues that may affect the breed and the tests available to ensure all dogs are as healthy and fit for function as possible.

Update from the Roslin Institute on the gonioscopy and glaucoma research and how you can help.
10th April 2016

Regretfully another dog in the UK has had to have an eye removed and the owners have done everything they can both for the dog and to assist the research.The Dog has already been eye tested affected and the litter sister lost an eye at a very young age. DNA was provided at that time by the owners.

Using the new information on the dog concerned and the DNA already held by the researchers Roslin have confirmed that it matches the sequence on the models they have been working on. The next stage is to sequence 10 dogs total genome and also one reference dog – this will include dogs tested affected, normal, and those that have developed glaucoma and lost eyes.

So how can you help?

We have a few owners that provided DNA (many to Alan Wilton) where the DNA has been used but Roslin needs some more DNA from these dogs – it takes a lot of DNA to do a full genome and a lot of the early DNA came from Australia and as you know was not sent over in the best of condition. Several of the dogs may well no longer be with us – but should they be then can we ask you to get in touch and Roslin can send you swabs to gain some more DNA – all of these dogs are in the public domain as being affected and or have lost eyes.

Here is the list:
General of Marann’s Home
Lucky Borders Hazel in Blue

In addition, if any owners and or breeders that have not already supplied DNA of dogs that have been eye tested affected (anywhere in the world) or have lost eyes can they please get in touch with us at the PBHF in total confidence and we will arrange for Roslin to contact you and ask for DNA. Contact Kathie here: kinton.kinaway@btinternet.com

Lastly, the researchers would like DNA from any dogs that have been eye tested (goniscopy) more than once with the same result outcome. Several had them done at the 2 clinics we did in the UK and most provided DNA either by blood or swab. So we just need DNA from any that may have been tested but not yet given the DNA. Thank you in advance from at least one breeder who has offered their bitches DNA who has been tested twice.

The research is really moving on and with just a bit more help we should be able to publish the next steps. In the meantime, it is important to keep eye testing and publishing the results and read the research information around breeding on our (PBHF) website and in the files.

Health and the Border Collie

The Border Collie is generally a healthy and hardy breed of dog. Although there are several health issues that may affect the breed, we are fortunate that most of these have either a physical or DNA test available. DNA testing is a valuable tool which can help eliminate diseases by selective breeding. Unless the dog is proven to be genetically clear by inheritance (i.e. 2 tested/inherited clear parents) it should itself be tested before breeding.

The following is a list of conditions which are known to exist within the breed & the tests which are currently available:

DNA testable diseases:

TNS (Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome)

Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) is an autoimmune deficiency disease where the neutrophils (white blood cells) produced by the bone marrow become “trapped” and cannot be effectively released into the bloodstream. The dog is unable therefore to fight infection, and will become very ill & eventually die from infections. Many puppies become ill before leaving the breeder and the vast majority do not live beyond 4 months of age, although some have lived longer. A very distressing disease.

  • There is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the genetic status of the dog.

CL (Ceroid Lipofuscinosis also sometimes known as Storage Disease)

Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL) is a rare, unpleasant and ultimately fatal disease which affects the nerve cells of the body. Most symptoms do not appear until the age of 18 months, but then increase rapidly with dogs rarely living past the age of 2½ years. Symptoms, which include unreasonable apprehension, abnormal gait & demented behaviour, increase rapidly after onset.

  • There is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the genetic status of the dog.

CEA (Collie Eye Anomaly)

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) is an inherited eye disease - whereby there is a lesion on the back surface of the eye, near to the optic nerve. Chorioretinal Hypoplasia (CH) is the pale patch which can be seen by an ophthalmologist via a physical examination in a young dog (preferably before 7 weeks of age), however this can be very difficult to determine accurately as changes in the eye development can make the patch difficult to see - hence cases of dogs being known to “go normal” (appear to be affected at 6/7 weeks and clear a while later). In the most severe cases dogs have been known to lose their sight.

  • There is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the genetic status of the dog.

MDR1 (Multi Drug Resistance gene)

The MDR1 gene is responsible for ensuring that the body’s natural P-glycoprotein functions normally by protecting the body from toxins. In MDR1 affected dogs the function is compromised and therefore toxins (from environmental or administered toxins - drugs etc) may leak into the major organs.

Testing will produce 1 of 3 results:

  • MDR/MDR (affected) whereby the dog reacts to drugs etc and will pass the gene to its offspring,
  • MDR/n (carrier) passes the gene to offspring approximately 50% of the time,
  • n/n (clear) does not carry the MDR gene mutation and will not therefore pass this on.

Testing for MDR is advisable in order to avoid treatment with drugs known to cause sensitivity (Ivermectin being one example) - this applies to all dogs not just for breeding purposes. The incidence of MDR resistance in Border Collies is so far fairly low but testing is relatively new to the breed.

  • There is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the status of the dog.

Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome (Cobalamin Malabsorption or Vitamin B12 Deficiency)

Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome (IGS) is a genetic disorder where vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, fails to be absorbed from the intestine. Lack of cobalamin leads to changes in the hematopoietic system and to neurological symptoms due to irreversible damage of the brain and nervous system.

Symptoms include anorexia, lethargy and failure to gain weight.

IGS is caused by a recessive genetic mutation and the available DNA test determines the genetic status of the dog as one of the following:-

  • 'Clear' (N/N): The dog is a non-carrier of the mutant gene and therefore cannot pass the mutant gene to its progeny. The dog will never develop IGS.
  • 'Carrier' (N/IGS): The dog carries one copy of the mutant gene and one copy of the normal gene. The dog will never develop IGS but since it carries the mutant gene, it can pass it on to its progeny with the probability of 50%.
  • 'Affected' (IGS/IGS): The dog carries two copies of the mutant gene and therefore it will pass the mutant gene to its entire progeny. The dog will develop IGS.

  • There Is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the status of the dog.

Sensory Neuropathy

How common is the disease?

Sensory neuropathy is a rare disease, but cases have been reported in several countries worldwide. To date 40 dogs have been tested since the DNA test has been available. 5 affected, 3 carriers and 30 are clear. Most of the affected dogs have been sent in by their vet and that explains why there is a disproportionately high number of affected dogs compared to carriers.

How is the disease inherited?

The disorder shows an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, which means that 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 signs of disease but can pass the defective gene onto their offspring. When two 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.

After DNA testing the results will be defined as follows:

  • 'Clear': The dog has two copies of the normal gene and will not develop SN, or pass a copy of the SN 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 SN. It will not develop SN but will pass on the SN gene to 50% (on average) of its offspring.
  • 'Affected': The dog has two copies of the SN mutation and is affected with SN

  • There Is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the status of the dog.

NON DNA testable disease - physical testing only

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - Eye testing by BVA panellists

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited eye disease of the retina. These dogs have eyes which are genetically programmed to go blind. A PRA test is routinely performed by a BVA eye panellist to check for PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) at 12 monthly intervals.

KC/BVA Hip Dysplasia scheme

Hip Dysplasia is known to affect many breeds including the Border Collie. It is the abnormal formation of the hip socket, which in the most severe cases may cause lameness and arthritis of the joints. It is a genetic (polygenic) trait that is also affected by environmental factors.

Hip x-raying by a veterinary surgeon & subsequent submission to the BVA for scoring is a procedure to establish the condition of the dogs hips.

The current BMS (breed mean score) for all tested Border Collies is 12. It is recommended by the BVA that breeding stock should be chosen from dogs with a hip score well below the BMS.

Gonioscopy Eye Testing (for pre disposition to glaucoma)

Glaucoma is an increased pressure within the eye - in worst cases resulting in eye loss. Gonioscopy is the test performed by a BVA eye panellist to assess the drainage angles in the eye, as poor capability to drain the aqueous fluid can lead to glaucoma. A Gonioscopy assesses the drainage angles of the eye, & the possibility of a predisposition to glaucoma.

A number of cases have been reported worldwide and currently research is progressing to find a DNA test to identify affected, clears and carriers.

Research details can be found on the PBHF website along with the KC and Roslin’s statements around breeding.

KC/BVA Elbow Dysplasia scheme

Elbow dysplasia is a condition involving developmental abnormalities of the elbow joint, specifically the growth of the cartilage or the structures surrounding it. These abnormalities give rise to osteoarthritic processes.

Elbow x-raying by a veterinary surgeon & subsequent submission to the BVA for scoring is a procedure to establish the condition of the dog’s elbows. At this point in time very few dogs have been tested for elbow dysplasia and it is too early to be sure of the incidence within the breed.

BAER Hearing testing

It has been ascertained that some Border Collies suffer from either partial or total hearing loss (deafness). There is current testing available, as well as more research being undertaken into the condition.

BAER Hearing testing can be performed on puppies & adult dogs to establish the status of their hearing.

Other conditions

Epilepsy is known to affect Border Collies. Unfortunately there is currently no available test to ascertain the status of a dog for this disease, although considerable research is being carried out both at the Animal Health Trust in the UK and other research establishments, including the University of Helsinki in Finland.

We would encourage our members to participate in the research should they be unfortunate enough to have a dog experiencing seizures. It is also important to remember that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy.

Epilepsy Research: For further details of how you can help, please contact the Pastoral Breeds Health Foundation Secretary, Lindsey Bridges.

~ * ~

All content © The Midlands Border Collie Club.