BCSA Health Statement

The BCSA is committed to breeding practices that will preserve the working ability and health of the world’s premier sheep herding breed. Responsible breeders should test the sire and dam of each litter for disorders that may disproportionately affect the Border Collie. Dogs and bitches shall be of suitable age (BCSA strongly recommends breeding stock be at least two years old), of general overall good health and intelligence, certified free from hereditary eye defects and hip dysplasia, of good temperament, and with sound structure and bite. Dogs that are carriers for any disorder should not be bred together, or bred to affected dogs, however, it is acceptable for a carrier (or an affected dog) to be bred to a dog that is clear for the disorder (ensuring that no pups will be affected).

Genetic (DNA) tests are available for some disorders that can affect Border Collies. Breeders should select appropriate tests and certifications based on their knowledge of the breeding stock and ancestor dogs. The identity of any dog being tested should be verified by microchip. When relying upon DNA test results from parents or ancestors of the breeding pair, DNA parentage profiles shall be used to guarantee accuracy of the pedigree. Border Collie breeders are encouraged to deposit their DNA test results in the independent Border Collie Health database: http://bordercolliehealth.com

There are no DNA tests available for epilepsy, thyroid disease, hip/elbow dysplasia, and many eye disorders. Results of veterinary examination of X-rays and eyes (of microchipped dogs) should be recorded in a national database such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals: http://www.ofa.org

Numerous research studies are being conducted to determine if there is any genetic component to epilepsy, behavior problems, diabetes, and many types of cancer that may be prevalent in Border Collies (including hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, melanoma and osteosarcoma). Owners of affected dogs are encouraged to submit blood samples and tumor samples to these researchers: https://www.bordercolliesociety.com/canine-disease-research-contacts/



Tests which are strongly recommended for all breeding stock:
  • Hip testing (OFA/OVC/PennHip)
    X-rays are evaluated for laxity of hip joints. Scores range from Excellent to Dysplastic.
  • Annual opthalmological testing (OFA ECR has replaced CERF)
    Eyes are evaluated for a number of disorders that affect vision, both genetic and age-related. Some of these conditions can be predicted by DNA tests. The ECR screening may indicate that more advanced testing is needed, such as gonioscopy to detect glaucoma.
Tests which are recommended for disorders that may be prevalent in certain bloodlines:

Please note: the percentage of carriers/affected dogs is based only on dogs that have been tested, so the actual incidence in Border Collies may be lower:

  • Elbow/Shoulder evaluation (OFA)
    X-rays are evaluated for degenerative changes such as Osteochondritis (OCD).
  • Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing (2.5% affected)
    Detects Bilateral and Unilateral deafness, due to genetic or environmental conditions. Dogs with Merle coloring should not be bred together due to high incidence of deafness in double Merle dogs.
  • Collie Eye Anomaly/Choroidal Hypoplasia (CEA/CH) DNA test (25% carriers)
    Recessive early-onset disorder affecting the choroid tissues underneath the retina, resulting in blindness. A single mutation causes both CEA and the more severe CH. Other genetic and environmental factors may affect the severity of the disease.
  • Imerslund Grasbeck Syndrome (I-GS) DNA test (6% carriers)
    Recessive early onset disorder that affects the intestines ability to absorb Vitamin B12 (an essential vitamin), resulting in failure to thrive.
  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscionis (NCL/CL) DNA test (3% carriers)
    Recessive early-onset disorder that results in accumulation of lysosomal storage bodies, especially in neurons, which can lead to neurodegeneration, seizures, motor decline, and early death. This disorder has been linked to some Aus/NZ bloodlines but some US/UK dogs may be carriers.
  • Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) DNA test (18% carriers)
    Recessive disorder that affects the immune systems ability to fight infection. Severity can depend on the particular pathogen. TNS is widespread among Border Collie bloodlines both US and worldwide.
Test for disorders that do not usually affect Border Collies:
  • Multi-Drug Resistance 1 (MDR1) DNA test (0.5% carriers)
Partially dominant disorder that affects the dogs ability to clear certain drugs and toxins, resulting in neurological effects and death upon exposure. Can cause sensitivity to Ivermectin.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) DNA test (0.2% carriers)
Recessive late onset disorder affecting the white matter of the spinal cord, leading to neurodegeneration and muscle atrophy. This is analogous to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in humans.
  • Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) DNA test (< 0.1%)
Recessive late-onset disorder affecting vision by abnormal location of lens in the eye.
  • Sensory Neuropathy (SN) DNA test (< 0.1%)
Recessive early-onset disorder causing degeneration of sensory and motor neurons in the extremities of the limbs, leading to loss of sensation and gait abnormalities, and very poor quality of life.

Page Updated 07/13/2016