The Council Visits Kyna
In June 2019 Kyna Cockers was inspected by St Helens Council, we are pleased to say that we have been awarded a 5 star, 3-year Animal Breeding Licence.
Health & Testing
We take the health and welfare of our cocker spaniels very seriously and test our breeding stock for all hereditary diseases. Here are the hereditary conditions explained and testing schemes.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
This is an inherited disease found in many breeds of dogs with varying ages of onset. There are various types of PRA but the one most commonly seen in Cockers is:
GRPA (General Progressive Atrophy): This is also known as prcd-PRA. The disease results in night blindness which gradually leads to total blindness. In Cockers, PRA has a variable age of onset, from as early as 18 months to as late as 7 years. It is inherited as a simple Autosomal Recessive Gene, meaning that a copy of the PRA gene must be inherited from both parents for the disease to occur. With recessive conditions like PRA, there are 3 genetic categories- affected, carrier and normal. Affected animals have two copies of the faulty PRA gene; one is inherited from each parent. Carrier animals have one faulty copy of the PRA gene but appear healthy and cannot be distinguished from normal dogs by eye screening. Normal animals are entirely free of the faulty gene.
Until recent years, breeders had no way of identifying which categories their breeding stock fell into, as the screening test available in the UK (eye testing by a BVA Panellist) could only determine if a dog was clinically clear of the disease at the time of testing. This test could not determine whether the dog was a carrier or whether the dog would develop the disease at some time in the future. American company OptiGen have identified the mutation gene which causes prcd-PRA in English Cocker Spaniels and offer a gene test to breeders to identify whether their dogs are genetically clear, carriers or affected with the disease. For further information on the test please visit the OptiGen website.
CPRA (Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy): This disease in cockers is associated with an inherited metabolic inability to circulate Vitamin E around the dog’s system. This results in a central loss of vision but not usually total blindness. Supplementation with Vitamin E can apparently help in stopping further development of the condition. It is not yet known exactly how this genetic defect id inherited and at present there is no DNA test available.
Primary glaucoma: This is a very painful condition caused by a build-up of internal pressure in the eye due to an inherited abnormality of the drainage angle. An affected dog will go blind, often having the affected eyes removed. Predisposition to glaucoma can be determined by the Gonioscopy test as part of the BVA/KC Eye Testing Scheme. There is no DNA test available at present.
Other eye conditions are also occasionally seen in Cockers, such as cataracts, Persistent Pupillary Membrane, Distichiasis (extra eyelashes), Entropian (ingrowing eyelids), and Ectropion (loose eyelids).
For further details of Eye Testing and BVA/KC Eye Testing Scheme please visit the KC Website.
Familial Nephropathy (FN)
Familial Nephropathy (FN) is a fatal kidney disease in young Cocker Spaniels. Onset of the disease is typically between 6 months to 2 years of age. Affected dogs are born with an abnormal structure in the walls of their kidney tubules, meaning they are unable to remove waste products from the blood and to produce urine as they normally would do. This in turn causes further damage to the kidneys. The condition has a rapid onset and affects young dogs, and is ultimately fatal.
The clinical signs of FN include excessive thirst and urination, loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, halitosis (bad breath), poor coat quality and pale mucous membranes. A diagnosis can be made based on the presence of blood proteins in the urine and/or abnormally high levels of waste products in the blood.
Familial Nephropathy is a simple inherited trait which is autosomal and recessive. This means a dog needs to inherit two copies of the mutated gene for it to be affected by the disease. If a dog has only one copy of the mutation, the dog will not be affected, but is a carrier and may pass on mutated gene to some of their offspring if the other parent is affected or a carrier.
DNA testing for this disease is now available, please visit the Antagene website for further details about this test.
Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS)
Acral Mutilation Syndrome is a rare autosomal-recessive genetic sensory neuropathy of canines. It causes the absence of pain sensation in the dog’s extremities and eventually leads to progressive self-mutilation. AMS is a hereditary disease and causes progressive degeneration and abnormal development of the sensory neurons in the spinal cord in the peripheral nerves. Single or multiple limbs can be affected by the disease, the hind legs are thought to be the most severely affected.
Dogs affected with AMS chew, bite, lick and self-mutilate their feet and legs, resulting in ulcers, fungal or bacterial infections. In severe cases auto-amputation of toes, pads and claws can occur. The dogs will continue to walk on mutilated feet without showing pain or lameness. Motor skills, co-ordination and reflexes will all appear normal.
Breeds that are affected by this condition are English Springer Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels (only working lines have been confirmed to date) German Short Haired Pointers, English Pointers, and the Miniature Schnauzer.
The symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the disease. Primary symptoms of the syndrome are: puppies with AMS are smaller than their littermate, and the chewing and biting of the feet can start as early as 3 months of age. The puppies show no pain or temperature sensation.
Secondary symptoms and resulting conditions may include bleeding, swollen pads, redness around pads, nail loss, ulceration on toes or feet, abscesses, extensive fibrosis (scarring), bacterial infection, fungal infection.
AMS is an autosomal-recessive condition. This means the dog must inherit the abnormal genes from both parents in order to be affected by the condition. If both parents are clear of ACM their offspring will not inherit the condition, nor will they be carriers of the disease. A dog that inherits only one abnormal gene from either parent will have no signs of the diseases, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.
To prevent this dreadful disease it is important that breeders take advantage of the new KC Official DNA testing scheme available for Cocker Spaniels. This is carried out at ANTAGENE and ANIMALDIAGNOSTICSUK
The DNA test is easy to perform, a simple check swab of the dog’s mouth is taken and sent to the relevant laboratory. Results are usually returned within 2 weeks.
Diagnosis is made on clinical signs affecting the puppy/dog. Your vet will require a complete medical history and onset of symptoms. A diagnosis is usually established with a combination of tests which may include Electromyography. EMG test evaluates the absence of normal nerve and muscle health, the dog will need to sedated for this test or given anaesthesia. Nerve biopsies may be taken under anaesthetic. Bloodwork and cultures will help determine if bacterial or fungal infection is present.
There is no treatment for this condition, the vet can only provide treatment to help the symptoms. This may include Anxiolytic Drugs (sedatives) such as Diazepam and Endorphin Blockers to help the dog with anxiety, and Antibiotics if it is established that infection is present. Laser Ablation may help to sterilise lesions and deaden nerve endings. Alternative medical treatments such as Acupuncture or Cold Laser Therapy may also provide some relief to the dog. If attempts to stop the dog from further self-mutilation are unsuccessful the vet may suggest euthanasia.
There is no cure for Acral Mutilation Syndrome and this condition although it is not a life threatening disease, it will require a lifetime commitment to manage the symptoms. If the dog does not stop self- mutilating himself, the quality of life must be considered.
Adult Onset Neuropathy (AON)
Adult Onset Neuropathy is a progressive weakness due to a neuropathy which has been recognised as an autosomal recessive, hereditary disorder in English Cocker Spaniels. Clinical signs typically begin between 7.5 and 9 years of age and consist first of an uncoordinated gait or wobbling in the hind limbs. The stance in the hind limbs is wide-base and the hocks will drop lower to the ground. The weakness eventually progresses to also involve the front limbs. When dogs become non-ambulatory on all limbs, difficulty in swallowing also become apparent. The neurologic signs seem to progress gradually over 3 to 4 years and more slowly than those of degenerative myelopathy. This condition was initially thought to affect only solid Cockers but carriers have now been detected in all colours. As with any other Autosomal Recessive conditions like AN, there are 3 genetic categories- affected, normal and carriers. Breeders can use the available DNA test at O.F.A
Glaucoma – Pectinate Ligament Abnormality (PLA)
PRIMARY GLAUCOMA is an inherited condition and is divided into two types: primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) and primary angle closure/closed angle glaucoma (PCAG). In both types, glaucoma results from reduced drainage of the fluid that is made within the eye, resulting in a build-up of pressure inside the eye, leading to pain and blindness.
PCAG is associated with defective development of the drainage angle, which is termed Pectinate Ligament Abnormality (PLA), also known as goniodysgenesis (gonio = angle, dysgenesis = defective development).
PLA is inherited in several breeds. The precise mode of inheritance of PCAG has not been determined for affected breeds, but clear breed and line predisposition indicate a genetically determined cause with what is likely to be a complex mode of inheritance.
PLA is tested for using a screening technique called gonioscopy. Gonioscopy involves examination of the drainage angle with a special lens (goniolens) and is separate from routine eye examination. Gonioscopy enables the drainage angle to be assessed in those breeds in which PLA is recognised.
A simple grading scheme (0 – 3) for PLA is in place where 0 is a normal angle, 1 is mildly affected, 2 is moderately affected and 3 is severely affected.
It is advised that for Schedule A breeds, gonioscopy should be carried out every 3 years. Information about eye testing for Glaucoma can be found at www.bva.co.uk/Canine-Health-Schemes/Eye-scheme
Breeding advice is as follows: