Rough and Smooth Collies are healthy dogs and responsible breeders are careful to ensure that health issues are minimised wherever possible. These are the main concerns which it is important for you to be aware of:

CEA - Collie Eye Anomaly

Clinical Name - Choroidal hypoplasia


CEA/CH causes abnormal development of the choroid - an important layer of tissue under the retina of the eye. Since the choroid layer does not develop normally from the start, the primary abnormality can be diagnosed at a very young age.

The clinical effects vary greatly among affected dogs within one breed, between parent and offspring and even within a litter. Most often the disease presents as a mild form in affected dogs and the presence of the disease can only be detected upon ophthalmologic examination; the dog retains normal vision throughout life, however, dogs with mild disease can produce severely affected offspring.


The severe (thankfully rare) form of the disease presents with related problems with the health of the eye (such as retinal detachment and intraocular haemorhage) that can result in serious vision loss in some cases.

If your dog is mildly affected, the best way to explain CEA is that if he were a human, he may have to wear glasses in later life but the majority of collies with mild CEA show no apparent visual defect. .

The disease is described as an autosomal recessive condition. 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 affected. A dog that inherits only one copy of the abnormal gene (from its mother or its father) will have no signs of the disease, but will be a carrier and may pass the gene on to any offspring.

It is possible for litters to be tested for congenital hereditary conditions such as Collie Eye Anomaly and Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia when they are 5 to 12 weeks old. Testing over this age may show a 'false negative' as the fundus of the eye colours with age and the lesion may no longer be visible. This does not mean that it is not there and so a dog can be clinically clear but still be genetically affected.

Please click here for an extended article by specialist Dr Sheila Crispin regarding Hereditary Eye Diseases in dogs.

To find you nearest eye panellist to assess your litter/older dog please use this link to the BVA.

HD - Hip Dysplasia


The term Hip Dysplasia can be used to describe a number of developmental problems and other abnormalities involving the hip joint in dogs.

Hip dysplasia (HD) is a common inherited orthopaedic problem of dogs and a wide number of other mammals. Abnormal development of the structures that make up the hip joint leads to subsequent joint deformity. ‘Dysplasia’ means abnormal growth. The developmental changes appear first and because they are related to growth, they are termed primary changes. Subsequently these changes may lead to excessive wear and tear. The secondary changes may be referred to as (osteo)arthritis (OA), (osteo)arthrosis or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Later one or both hip joints may become mechanically defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and cause lameness. In extreme cases the dog may find movement very difficult and may suffer considerably. It was in the light of this knowledge that the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club (KC) developed a scheme some 40 years ago to assess the degree of hip deformity of dogs using radiography.


To date radiographs (X-rays) from more than 250,000 dogs have been assessed providing a standardised reflection of the HD status of those dogs that have been examined. This information is primarily of use for breeders. Currently 126 breeds are surveyed by the scheme in the UK.

To read the full Kennel Club/BVA information leaftlet on HD, please click here.

To view the 2012 breed statistics for the BVA/KC scheme, please click here.

MDR1 - Multi Drug Resistance


It is now widely accepted that some Collies appear to be hypersensitive to certain toxins (natural or drug-induced) and are more prone to stress-related problems.


The problem first came to light in 1983 when several Collies died from Ivermectin poisoning and, since then, the veterinary profession has accepted this drug should never be given to Collies. More recently a Rough Collie died from eating horse faeces (Ivermectin is used for worming horses and any excess drug passes out with their faeces).


Researchers have since found that approximately 60% of Rough and Smooth Collies appear to be susceptible not only to Ivermectin, but to a wide range of other drug substances. The MDR1 (multi-drug resistant) gene is responsible for ensuring the body’s natural P-glycoprotein functions normally by protecting the body from both environmental toxins and administered toxins eg drugs, and acting as a transport mechanism moving substances from cell to cell. P-glycoproteins are normally extensively distributed in the blood-brain and blood-testes barriers as well as major organs such as the liver, kidneys, intestines and placenta. When they are present in the intestinal tract three things normally happen – the substance may be metabolised; it may enter the circulatory system; or it may be passed out of the large intestine with the faeces.


In MDR1-affected dogs the function of the P-glycoprotein is compromised and so toxins may leak into the major organs. If these compounds leak across the blood-brain barrier, they enter the central nervous system causing toxic reactions such as excessive salivation, Ataxia, blindness, coma, respiratory problems and even death.


Because of a lack of the p-glycoprotein transporter in the body, an MDR1-affected dog also tends to have a deficiency of Cortisol (a steroid hormone produced by the Adrenal glands). Cortisol is responsible for stress management and the maintenance of an efficient immune system, and a deficiency can therefore lead to stress-related problems such as colitis or inflammatory bowel disease.


An MDR1 Clear dog (normal or +/+)…receives a healthy MDR1 gene from each of its parents and can therefore only pass on healthy genes to its offspring. The healthy + genes are dominant and such animals do not exhibit drug toxicity.


A ‘Carrier’ (+/-) is a dog that has received a normal [dominant] MDR1 gene from one of its parents, and a defective gene [recessive] from the other parent which is 'carried' by the dominant + gene. Please bear in mind that a carrier can pass either a normal or a defective genes onto its offspring resulting in approximately 50% of the puppies inheriting a defective MDR1 gene. Theoretically the 'carrier' animal should not be susceptible to drug toxicity but unfortunately the dominance of the MDR1 + gene has been found to be incomplete as some ‘carrier’ animals also appear to be susceptible to high doses of those drugs that cause problems in MDR1-affected dogs, that is, those with two defective MDR1 genes (-/-).


An Affected dog (-/-) receives a defective or mutant MDR1 gene from both its parents, so such dogs are double recessive and will display toxic reactions to a wide range of drug compounds (see list below). In 2007 a genetic test was made available for MDR1 and so It is extremely important that breeders try and use Normal (+/+) dogs in their breeding programmes so as to eliminate the defective MDR1 genes as soon as possible.


If you have an MDR1-affected Collie (-/-) you could be in a position to save its life by providing your veterinary surgeon with a copy of its MDR1 Certificate and the list of drug compounds that your Collie should never be given. Of those vets who have already been asked to put MDR1 test results onto a Collie’s records, all have been aware of the Ivermectin problem but have had no idea about the broad spectrum of drug compounds that can severely threaten an MDR1-affected dog. Please note there are usually alternative, safe drugs your Collie could be given instead.

Please use this link to Labkolin for the lastest list of drugs that cause sensitivity in dogs with the MDR1 gene as well as information on how to test your own collies.


Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm, (known as Angiostrongylus Vasorum) which affects dogs and foxes (who are often implicated in spreading the disease). Once dogs are infected, adult lungworms live in their heart and the major blood vessels supplying the lungs, where they often cause a host of potentially serious problems. 

Wet spring months usually mean you'll see a fair few slugs and snails around and they've all got the potential to carry the dangerous lungworm parasite. So when your dog rummages through undergrowth, drinks from puddles, eats grass, or generally sniffs around outside; they can end up eating these slugs or snails either accidentally or on purpose. Although slugs and snails can give off foul-tasting substances that prevent them from being ingested, some dogs just appear to ignore these warnings. Also any contact with the slime trail in outdoor food and water bowls, even over toys left out in the garden, can be enough to cause infection too.

Unlike many diseases, however, lungworm is not actually passed directly from dog to dog. The worm needs slug and snail hosts in order to grow and develop, and it's from eating these that infection may occur, then by the dog passing larvae in its waste. So the more infected slugs and snails eaten, the more likely disease is then rapidly spread within dog communities.

After infection, lungworm usually causes progressively worsening signs of cardiac and respiratory disease (often at 'extremes' of exercise); as well as causing haemorrhages in lungs, liver, intestine, eyes, and spinal cord, but also pretty much anywhere in the body. If left untreated, it can be fatal in severe cases.

Signs of lungworm disease are vague, and easily confused with other illnesses, including weight loss, breathing difficulties, coughing (especially bringing up blood), lethargy, poor blood clotting/persistent bleeding, general sickness, circling, stomach and back pain, poor appetite, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Lungworm is often a chronic disease, lasting months, even years. However, it will occasionally cause sudden death. Even changes in behaviour, such as depression, tiring easily, and seizures can indicate infection, with mild cases often remaining totally unnoticed by owners.

An absolute diagnosis of lungworm is difficult and involves a variety of diagnostic methods, such as blood samples for DNA, analysis of stool samples for eggs and larvae, chest X-rays, even bronchoscopy. Interestingly, not finding worms doesn't mean your dog isn't infected. Diagnosing lungworm infection is often based on history, compatible clinical signs and response to treatment.

Dogs of all ages and breeds are susceptible to lungworm, with playful, younger dogs (less than two years old), unsurprisingly, more prone to picking up the parasite. Dogs known to purposely eat slugs and snails are obviously considered higher risk.

Lungworm is what we call an 'emerging' disease: it's gradually becoming more common. Until recently it only appeared in select 'hot spots' in the south of the UK, but over the last few years, it's been successfully identified in various parts of the country. It's unclear exactly what's caused this spread (and that of other parasites, including ticks), but increased movement of pets around the country, and abroad, as well as greater contact between wildlife and the urban environment are all thought to be very influential factors.

Not every snail or slug carries the disease and lungworm's geographical limitations means infection is currently relatively uncommon, but it does rear its head from time to time; and in extreme cases, causes death of infected patients, so it is potentially extremely serious.

What do I do if I think my dog may be infected?

If you're concerned your dog has picked up lungworm, is displaying signs of the disease, or is at risk from lungworm infection, then call your vet immediately. Lungworm treatment is widely available from your vet and extremely easy to administer. Once diagnosed and treated, most dogs make a full recovery and, like all diseases, the key to successful treatment is taking action early.

Killing lungworm is relatively simple, and involves making sure your routine anti-parasite preventative treatments administered to your dog are appropriate. No invasive or expensive treatments are indicated when disease is caught early. However, the more advanced the effects or level of infection, the more significant the permanent damage is likely to be, so the more costly any veterinary treatment required will be.

How can lungworm be prevented?

Your vet may provide you with some simple treatments that you can apply to protect your dog from lungworm, as well as other parasitic worms and fleas.

If you spot slugs and snails in your garden or local park, be extra vigilant when out walking your dog. Always pick up and safely dispose of your dog's faeces, and consult your vet as soon as possible if your dog becomes unwell.

Find out more at

If you have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this article then please contact your local veterinary practice for further information.

This article was written by Marc Abraham and was originally published in the Crufts Magazine -

Marc Abraham is a vet based in Brighton.  He regularly appears on UK television.  For more information about Marc please visit

Child Safety around dogs - from the Kennel Club website

Your children need to be taught that the puppy is not a toy or doll, and should not be disturbed when resting or sleeping, picked up, cuddled, hugged, kissed, carried around, or dressed up, all of which can make it grumpy and snappy.

Toddlers and young children often unwittingly encourage puppies to chase and play bite them, so you should only let them interact under your supervision. Keep them apart (use a child-gate or playpen) if one or the other is having an exuberant moment, and never leave them alone together.

However, even older children (and some adults!) can be excitable and inconsistent or over-stimulating the puppy one minute, and then telling it off (and often hitting it) the next. Children (and puppies) are not known for their patience, so both need to be taught how to be gentle with each other.

Dog bite injuries are a problem in all societies, but a high majority of these injuries are preventable with the correct education. Most dog biting incidents happen in the home and many people are simply unaware of the simple measures that can be taken to avoid problems. The language used by dogs is subtle and children are prone to misinterpreting it, which can lead to biting incidents.

Teach your children the doggy dos and don'ts

  • Don't play rough and aggressive games with your puppy as this can encourage aggressive behaviour later on

  • Don't play fight with each other or taunt the puppy to make it protective or jealous, because this tends to backfire badly later if the dog ever misjudges the situation

  • Most puppies dislike close face-to-face contact, unless they have instigated it themselves, so keep faces away from the puppy's, or risk being bitten on the face!

  • Never let children ambush or force themselves on the puppy. If they want to play, the puppy should be invited over, but do not let the children force the issue if the puppy does not want to go to them. The children must be made to understand the importance of having 'quiet time' with the puppy, and give it space and peace and quiet when it wants it

  • Puppies will often steal, chew and swallow children's toys and clothes for attention, so teach your children tidy habits, or your puppy will spend its youth at the veterinary practice having things surgically removed from it (or worse, it could die)

  • Children have to be 10 years old or over to be legally responsible for a dog outside their homes

  • Children must learn to ask a dog's owner permission before petting their dog.


Living with dogs enriches children's lives. Taking care of a dog is an excellent way of teaching a child to take responsibility, express empathy, get some exercise and to have fun. Dogs can also significantly help to raise their self-esteem. But it is the responsibility of adults; especially parents, to make sure that these valuable child/dog relationships are nurtured so that one understands the other.

April 2016 - Alabama rot or idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV)

In November 2012 the first cases were identified in the UK.  In January 2014, the outbreak in England was identified as having the same or similar cause as Alabama rot,  although a wide range of breeds were affected. The disease has continued to spread across England, with a case being reported as far north as North Yorkshire in March 2015. A UK map (HERE) confirmed (with postmortem) and unconfirmed (without postmortem) cases of Alabama rot since December 2012.

© 2017 Managed by Amy Peacock and built by Hannah Walder for the London Collie Club.