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Health > Eyes > Hereditary Cataracts

The typical inherited cataract in Australian Shepherds involves both eyes, and is present on the back side of the lens, these cataracts usually begin in an outer layer of the lens. Cataracts can usually be detected during a CERF eye exam on an adult, but they can appear at any age. Finding cataracts in a puppy is extremely unusual, but it can happen.

The progression of cataracts varies in each dog diagnosed. Some progress very slowly that the dog will retain functional vision, if not full,  throughout their lives. While others are so affected that they become blind in a very short period of time. Also some Aussies will develop cataracts in one eye while the other might not show any evidence for months.

As with our little girl Starr, she sustained a punctate cataract years ago while playing (sticker in the eye), she was re-examined and that cataract did not grown in size.

Possible Results when breeding:
CLEAR: the dog has 2 copies of the normal gene and will neither develop Early-Onset Hereditary Cataract, nor pass a copy of the Early-Onset 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 Early-Onset Hereditary Cataract.  It will not develop Early-Onset Hereditary Cataract but will pass on the Early-Onset Hereditary Cataract gene to 50% (on average) of its offspring.

AFFECTED: the dog has two copies of the Early-Onset Hereditary Cataract mutation and is affected with Early-Onset Hereditary Cataract.

Begin Statement from Animal Health Trust:
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.
End Animal Health Trust Statement

Breeder's Note: It is VERY good news knowing that if you breed a cleared dog to a cleared dog that none of the puppies will inherit Hereditary Cataracts! and even though Animal Health Trust indicates in their statement that you can breed a carrier, as a breeder I don't think I would breed a carrier knowingly to produce puppies that could be carriers of Hereditary Cataracts. OFA will clear by parentage for first generation puppies.

Article about Hereditary Cataracts

Hereditary Cataracts Testing Requirements and Costs

Rev. 15 January 18

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