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Cerebellar Abiotrophy

The Gordon Setter Breed Council & British Gordon Setter Club has recently been made aware of a new DNA test available to Gordon Setters. More information on CA & DNA Test.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - "Moving On"

In February 2009 it was confirmed that the Gordon Setter could suffer from a autosomal recessive mutation of a gene which causes PRA. In the Gordon Setter this has been found to have "late onset" that is it is unlikely to be displayed until 10 years of age, although ophthalmic testing could show early clinical signs from 7 years of age.

At this time the members of the British Gordon Setter Club together with the other breed clubs and associations all joined together to fund research into this condition via The Animal Health Trust (AHT).

Seminars were held with eminent speakers to ensure that the condition was understood and how it could be managed, although it was made clear that this was not a curable condition.

Many breeds suffer a form of PRA but the mutation in the Gordon Setter unfortunately did not match that of any other breed and so the AHT had to genotype the mutation and this could take many years of research and testing.

It is therefore amazing that the mutation was discovered in under 2 years and there is now a test available ( please see information below) to allow us to move forward with our breeding programmes which if sensibly managed will mean that PRA within the Gordon Setter can be eradicated completely although this will take several years.

The British Gordon Setter Club is extremely grateful to Cathryne Melluish and her team at the AHT who have worked so hard to bring the test to fruition.

The chart below shows how by using the knowledge of whether a dog is CLEAR, a CARRIER, or even AFFECTED, it should be possible to eliminate the condition in just a few generations. Consideration need to be given to the dog as a whole as we cannot simply breed for eye sight, we need to breed for type, temperament, good hips and overall good health.

Moving On

Identification of Mutation for Progressive Retinal Atrophy in the Gordon Setter

A mutation responsible for the development of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in the Gordon Setter has been identified by geneticists working in the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust.

PRA is a well-recognised inherited condition that many breeds of dog are predisposed to. The condition is characterised by bilateral degeneration of the retina which causes progressive vision loss that culminates in total blindness. There is no treatment for PRA.

Owners report that their affected dogs develop night blindness in the first instance, which is indicative of a rod-cone degeneration, so we have termed this mutation rcd4 (for rod-cone degeneration 4) to distinguish it from other, previously described, forms of rod-cone degeneration.

The mutation is recessive and 19 out of the 21 Gordon Setters in our study that had clinical signs of PRA were homozygous (carried two copies) for this mutation, indicating it is the major cause of PRA in the breed. Two dogs in our study had PRA but did not carry the rcd4 mutation, indicating there might be another, genetically distinct, rarer form of PRA segregating in this breed.

The Animal Health Trust has developed a DNA test for the rcd4 mutation that will be available from Monday 14th March, 2011. DNA test kits are available to order online, via their website ( .there is a discount available to Assured Breeder Scheme Members via the Kennel Club website in the my KC Area

The research that led to identification of the rcd4 mutation was funded by many different organisations, including the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, the British Gordon Setter Club, the Gordon Setter Field Trial Society, the Gordon Setter Association, the Gordon Setter Club of Scotland and the LUPA project ( as well as several individuals who have also contributed significantly. The AHT would like to thank sincerely all the organisations and individuals who donated funds to help support the research as well as all the owners who contributed DNA and information from their dogs.

Gordon Setter Breed Council

Guidelines on PRA (RCD4) testing

Clinical Eye Testing is advised prior to each mating

Annual Eye testing is essential for stud dogs

DNA tests:

In every mating one partner must be Clear

CCarrier x Carrier / Carrier x Affected / Affected x Affected should not be done

Advice will be revised on an annual basis, in consultation with the AHT

Over time, the ultimate aim is to eradicate PRA from the breed.

Puppy sale contracts should always be done which include breeding endorsements that can only be lifted by the Breeder.

Useful Links:


Offer PRA9rcd4), Coat Colour and CA testing and offer 10% discount to Assured Breeder Scheme members. ABS members must send a photocopy of their ABS Certificate with their order and deduct 10% from their payment.

AHT also offer a discount for PRA(rcd4) testing obtainable by following the link to their site via the KC website, My KC area under Special Offers

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