Eye conditions and breeding advice

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How are eye conditions inherited?

Some conditions may have a complex inheritance (controlled by a number of different genes and environmental factors), while others will have a simple mode of inheritance (controlled entirely by one gene). For information on how a particular condition is inherited, you may wish to speak to your own veterinary surgeon initially, or contact the Canine Health Scheme Department at the British Veterinary Association.

Using the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme

The BVA/KC/International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) Eye Scheme offers breeders the opportunity of screening for inherited eye disease by examination of the eye. Breeders can use the information obtained from the examination to eliminate or reduce the frequency of eye disease being passed on to puppies.

Examination under the Eye Scheme is not restricted to the identification of inherited eye disease, but also includes general assessment of the health of the eye and adnexa (eyelids, tear ducts and other parts around the eye ball).

Changes to the Eye Scheme

From the 1st January 2020 the Kennel Club have introducing a number of changes to the scheme. Find out more here, or read our questions and answers for more details.

Why screen your dog?

Breeders are able to screen their breeding stock for known and emerging inherited diseases before the dogs are bred from. Testing all potential breeding stock allows breeders to better understand the genes a dog may pass on to its offspring. Making informed decisions from health test results enables breeders to adapt their breeding programmes and reduce the risk of inherited diseases appearing in future generations.

How do I get my dog's eyes tested?

Panellists appointed by the British Veterinary Association can carry out eye tests and can issue certificates under the scheme. Owners make an appointment with one of the eye panellists directly, or through their own veterinary surgeon. Often, Breed Clubs will arrange for a BVA panellist to attend their shows. This enables many dogs to be examined on one occasion at a reduced rate.

Owners of Kennel Club registered dogs must have the relevant documents with them at the time of testing to qualify for an eye test under the scheme. Wherever possible, any previous eye certificates issued for the dog should also be provided.

The panellist will examine the dog, issue an eye certificate and inform the owner of the result at the time of examination. Copies of the certificate are distributed to the owner, the owner’s veterinary surgeon, the BVA and the examining eye panellist.

When is it best to have my dog examined?

For those breeds in which inherited disease can be detected soon after birth (congenital and neonatal disease) it may be advisable to screen the puppies as part of a litter and litter screening is usually carried out at between six and twelve weeks of age.

Breeding dogs should be examined under the eye scheme within 12 prior to mating; especially the many breeds in which inherited eye disease can develop later in life. A final examination, at reduced cost, should take place in all dogs that have been used for breeding when they have reached eight years of age.

Which inherited conditions may affect my breed?

For the breeds with known inherited eye diseases (previously described on Schedule A), a certificate is issued indicating the dog is either "clinically affected" or "clinically unaffected" and these results are recorded and published by the Kennel Club. Many other potentially inherited conditions are also being assessed and the information gathered from routine eye examinations is collated and analysed from "sighting reports" (completed by the eye panellist). In this way, any emerging inherited condition can be detected early and dealt with properly before it becomes more widespread. Once the inherited nature of the condition has been confirmed it is moved onto a list of inherited eye disease. Similarly if a condition is not noted in the breed for at least five years it may be removed from this list.

Current list of known inherited eye diseases

Which breeds are screened under the Scheme?

Although any breed can be examined for eye disease, currently only the results of those breeds that appear on the inherited eye disease list of the Eye Scheme are sent to the Kennel Club for inclusion on computer records and printing in the Breed Records Supplement. To view an individual dog’s health test results, why not view our Mate Select online service.

In the near future, we aim to include online access listing all breeds of dog, including crossbreeds, which are not on the inherited eye disease list, but have had their eyes examined under the Eye Scheme

The eye scheme currently relates to conditions involving the eye itself and not those involving the adnexa (eyelids, tear ducts and other parts around the eye ball). Therefore, only hereditary eye conditions of the eye are recorded as clinically affected or clinically unaffected, whilst adnexal conditions such as entropion, ectropion, distichiasis and dry eye, for example, are not. These latter conditions are of importance, but because of their complex nature and the lack of scientific evidence relating to the exact mode of inheritance, they are not included in the scheme at present.

Is the Eye Scheme relevant to my breed?

Find out which health tests or schemes are recommended for your breed on the Kennel Club’s Breed Information Centre and the Hereditary Eye Disease Leaflet. These recommendations are suggested by the BVA Eye Panel and the Eye Panel Working Party and Breed Clubs. They are approved by Kennel Club committees (whose membership includes veterinary professionals and research scientists).

Breeding Advice

For relevant breeds, breeding dogs should be examined under the eye scheme within 12 months prior to mating.

In general, it is recommended that you should not breed from dogs affected by known inherited eye conditions, but it is accepted that other factors such as the relevance of the inherited condition to the dog’s well-being and the breed’s genetic diversity may also come into play. If a dog is found to be affected, it is recommended that you seek breed specific and condition specific breeding advice from the Eye Panellist at the time of examination, your own veterinary surgeon, the Kennel Club Health Team, or the BVA Canine Health Scheme staff.

Making balanced breeding decisions

As well as considering the implications of a dog’s eye test results, there are other equally important factors to consider when deciding whether two dogs should be mated together, such as, for example, temperament, genetic diversity, conformation, other available health test results and general health. Clearly those conditions which are painful, or may cause the dog to go blind, or require surgical correction or long term medical therapy, should be regarded as important to eliminate from a breed. Your breeding decisions should always be well balanced and take into consideration the qualities and compatibility of both the sire and dam that you are considering.

Can the results of the scheme be used to predict accurately if future puppies will be affected?

Some inherited conditions have such a characteristic presentation that they can be diagnosed with a high degree of certainty on clinical examination. The parallel and complimentary use of DNA tests, when they are available, enables breeders to devise safe breeding programmes for single gene mutations; the challenges are greater with more complex modes of inheritance.

Are the BVA/KC results published?

The names and results (“clinically affected” or “clinically unaffected”) of Kennel Club registered dogs will be sent to the Kennel Club for recording on their database and will be made available:

  • In the next available Breed Records Supplement
  • On any new registration certificate issued for the dog
  • On the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog
  • On the Health Test Results Finder in the Kennel Club's online health resource, Mate Select

What are the costs involved?


Routine Eye Examination

Cost ex VAT per dog

Cost inc VAT

1st dog



Extra dogs in same ownership



Group testing (25 or more)



Examination of dogs over 8 years



Gonioscopy per dog - separate examination



Gonioscopy performed at same time as a routine examination



 Repeat Gonioscopy (presenting previous cert) 10% off current price



Separate examination



Performed as same time as routine








Litter screening (5 to 12 weeks) All dogs must be microchipped

Cost ex VAT per dog

Cost inc VAT

1 to 3 puppies



Per puppy thereafter



Duplicate copy of certificate



To find out if there are any health testing clinics in your area please click here.

Where can I get more information?

Free, detailed leaflets can be downloaded here or are available from either: Health & Breeder Services Department, The Kennel Club, Clarges St, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB or the Canine Health Schemes Department, BVA, 7 Mansfield Street, London W1G 9NQ.

For further information on the schemes, please visit the BVA website.

What summary statistics are held on the eye scheme?

Statistics on the number of dogs examined under the eye scheme and summary results of the examination can be accessed in the Kennel Club’s Dog Health Group Annual Report.


Related Topics

Dog Health Health Schemes Eye Scheme
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