Two new DNA test reporting schemes to combat inherited disease in the Shetland Sheepdog

In a move designed to combat inherited disease in the Shetland Sheepdog, the Kennel Club has approved two new official DNA test reporting schemes for two forms of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) in the breed following consultation with the Breed Health Coordinator. These schemes are for PRA (BBS2-PRA) and PRA (CNGA1-PRA).

PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is an inherited condition that causes the parts of the eye that are sensitive to light to break down. PRA produces a gradual loss of vision in both eyes, eventually leading to total blindness. A number of breeds are affected by PRA and, although the clinical effects are usually the same, each breed’s version of PRA is often caused by a different genetic mutation.

PRA (BBS2-PRA) and PRA (CNGA1-PRA) are both described as autosomal-recessive conditions. This 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.

Tested dogs will be recorded on the Kennel Club systems as one of the following:


The dog does not have any copies of the abnormal gene associated with the disease. The dog is highly unlikely to be clinically affected and will pass on only a normal copy of the gene to a puppy.


The dog has one copy of the normal gene and one copy of the abnormal gene associated with the disease. The dog is unlikely to be clinically affected but may pass on one copy of the normal gene, or one copy of the abnormal gene, to a puppy.


The dog has two copies of the abnormal gene associated with the disease. The dog will likely be clinically affected by the disorder and will pass on one copy of the abnormal gene to any potential offspring.

To find out which laboratories the Kennel Club is able to record results from, and which labs will send results direct to the Kennel Club, please refer to the worldwide DNA testing list per breed on our Breeds A to Z. Please note that this listing is not necessarily comprehensive and other labs may offer the tests.

The Kennel Club constantly reviews DNA testing schemes in conjunction with breed clubs to ensure that breeders are supported with resources which help them to make responsible breeding decisions. 

The Kennel Club works alongside breed clubs and breed health coordinators in a collaborative effort to improve the health of pedigree dogs and is happy to accommodate a club's request to add a new DNA test to its lists. A formal request from the breed's health coordinator or a majority request from the breed clubs is normally required to do this.

Test results will be added to the dog’s registration details which will trigger the publication of the result in the next available Breed Records Supplement. The result will appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog, and also on the Health Test Results Finder on the Kennel Club website. 

Results for dogs already tested can also be recorded, but owners will need to submit copies of the DNA certificates themselves, which should be scanned and emailed to our team.

Owners are reminded that since August 2018, it has been mandatory that the dog’s microchip (or tattoo) number is recorded along with either the dog’s registered name or registered number on any DNA certificates. Any test results issued after that date that do not carry these identifying features will not be added to the Kennel Club systems.