The Border Collie is generally a healthy & hardy breed of dog.
Although there are several health issues that can affect the breed, we are fortunate that most of these have either a physical or DNA test available.

BCCGB's Hereditary Defects & Diseases Information & Advice can be viewed <here>

Kennel Club Health Initiatives

The Kennel Club Breed Health Co-ordinator (BHC) facilitates the communication and collection of data on the health of our breed. The BHC also acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and collaborates with the Kennel Club on any health concerns in our breed.

The UK Kennel Club Border Collie Breed Health Survey (published September 2017) can be viewed here <BHS>

The UK Kennel Club Border Collie Breed Health And Conservation Plan can be viewed here <BHCP>

The current list of BVA/Kennel Club/ISDS Eye Scheme Panellists can be viewed <here>

The list of BAER Hearing Testing Centres can be viewed <here>

Pastoral Breeds Health Foundation (PBHF)

In 1999 BCCGB created a fund to raise money for research into Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA); in 2000 the CEA Working Group was formed, comprising representatives from all registered Border Collie societies, Lancashire Heeler & Shetland Sheepdog societies and the ISDS. Dr Jeff Sampson, Genetics Co-ordinator to the Kennel Club, sat as an advisor.

Following the availability of a CEA DNA test, the CEA Working Group's title was changed to the Pastoral Breeds Health Foundation to reflect the ongoing objective to promote health testing and research into conditions affecting the Border Collie and other pastoral breeds.

For more in-depth information on health & the current situation within the breed please refer to the <PBHF website>

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

DNA testable disease:

TNS (Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome)

Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) is an immune system 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.
There Is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the genetic status of the dog.

CL (Ceroid Lipofuscinosis or Storage Disease)

Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL), also known as storage disease is a rare 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 2 ½ years.  Symptoms, which include unreasonable apprehension, abnormal gait & demented behaviour – which increase rapidly after onset.
There Is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the genetic status of the dog.

CEA (Collie Eye Anomoly)

Collie Eye Anomoly (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 opthamologist 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.

Goniodysgenesis (pre-disposition to glaucoma)

Goniodysgenesis is an abnormality within the eye & is associated with primary closed angle glaucoma. The fluid in the eye does not drain properly, resulting in excessive pressure build up, which if untreated will eventually cause permanent damage to the optic nerve & ultimately blindness.
Until 2018, the only method of testing for goniodydgenesis has been a clinical gonioscopy examination performed by a BVA eye panellist to assess the drainage angles of the eye.
In May 2018, The Roslin Institute published its research on the discovery of a genetic variant on the OLFML3 gene & Animal Genetics launched a DNA test for the pre-disposition to goniodysgenesis & glaucoma. The test verifies the presence of the recessive mutation & results are presented as one of the following:-
G/G 'Affected' - the dog carries two copies of the mutant gene & is very susceptible to developing glaucoma. It will always pass a copy of the mutation to its offspring.
N/G 'Carrier' - the dog has one copy of the OLFML3 mutation & there is a 50% probability that it can pass a copy of the defective gene to its offspring.
N/N 'Clear' - the dog has no OLFML3 mutation & cannot pass the defective gene to its offspring.

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.
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 by which the 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 Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome.
'Carrier' (N/IGS): The dog carries one copy of the mutant gene and one copy of the normal gene. The dog will never develop Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome 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 Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome.

SN (Sensory Neuropathy)

A severe neurological disease, SN is caused by the progressive degeneration of sensory and motor nerve cells. The onset of the disease occurs between 2 to 7 months of age and as quality of life is severely affected, dogs with SN are usually euthanised before two years of age. Symptoms include knuckling of the feet, self-mutilation wounds and incoordination of gait, with a progressive loss of sensation occuring in all limbs. Prognosis is poor as there is no effective treatment.
There is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the status of the dog.

DH (Dental Hypomineralisation, known as Raine's Syndrome)

Dogs that are affected by dental hypomineralisation, have teeth that are not as strong as they should be. This means that they can be worn down more easily and can cause the affected dog pain.
Raine’s syndrome is known to affect Border Collies, with signs usually appearing at an early age. Affected dogs may develop brown discoloured teeth, smooth enamel, signs of wear, cracked teeth and inflammation and the only way to treat this condition is by extracting worn teeth.
It is an autosomal-recessive condition, which means that a dog must inherit two copies of an abnormal gene (one from its mother and one from its father) before its health is likely to be affected. A dog that inherits only one copy of the abnormal gene (from its mother or its father) will likely have no signs of the disease, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.
There is a DNA test available for this disease to distinguish the status of the dog.

NON DNA testable disease - physical testing only

Retinal Pigment Epithelial Dystrophy (RPED)

RPED is a serious condition which can lead to blindness in Affected dogs. The disease is caused by the inability of some cells in the eye to produce enzymes which break down waste materials (most commonly, lipopigments) - these then accumulate on the retina of the eye. The cells in the eye which are sensitive to light then degenerate, causing partial or total blindness. It can be detected in dogs as young as 12 months old, although most Affected dogs have been at least 18 months of age when they have been diagnosed.
The mode of inheritance for this disease is not known, and it is thought that nutrition (particularly availability of Vitamin E) also plays a significant role; because of BVA/KC/ISDS eye testing schemes (and possibly better nutrition), the incidence is very low.
Dogs can be tested for RPED whenever they have a routine eye exam; there is no genetic test available for RPED. Several DNA tests exist for the various PRA condition BUT none of these apply to Border Collies. The old PRA tests have now been divided in categories and the test now used is the one for RPED.

KC/BVA Hip Dysplasia scheme

Hip Dysplasia is known to affect 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.

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 dogs elbows.

BAER Hearing testing

It has been ascertained that a small percentage of 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 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. 

About us

The inaugural meeting of the Border Collie Club of Great Britain took place on the 6th August, 1973. 45 years on, the club remains the premier Border Collie breed club in the UK.