PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is the general term for degeneration of the retina in the eye, found within some breeds of dogs and humans. Several breed specific forms of retinal degeneration are caused by mutation in different genes.
Retinal degeneration was first documented in Miniature Long Haired Dachshunds. A DNA test was made available in 2005, predominantly for breeders to identify a specific gene mutation known as 'Cord1' in their dogs. The identical mutation was then found in Miniature Smooth Haired Dachshunds and Miniature Wire Haired Dachshunds - Standard Dachshunds of any coat do not have the mutation.
Breeders of Miniature Dachshunds have been required to carry out DNA testing to check the Cord1 PRA status of their dogs for a number of years. This test then reports whether the dog is 'Clear', 'Carrier' or 'Affected' with the Cord1 PRA mutation - every single Miniature Dachshund will fall under one of these categories. This is a Kennel Club compulsary test, meaning that all puppies registered with the Kennel Club must have a PRA status.
If both parents are Cord1 PRA Clear, then testing of the puppies is not required, as all puppies within the litter will be Hereditary Clear.
PRA Clear AND PRA Carrier dogs will NEVER be affected by symptoms of the Cord1 PRA Mutation
There seems to be some confusion among those looking into owning a Dachshund, believing that any puppy they buy must be Cord1 PRA Clear as anything else is inferior, defective or unhealthy - this is simply not the case and it is important for you to gain understanding of the condition and how it is inherited.
If a dog/pup is a Cord1 PRA Carrier, this purely means that he/she carries ONE copy of the Cord1 PRA gene - nothing more, nothing hidden, no poor eye health moving forward, just basic genetics.
Any one of us could unknowingly carry the copy of a gene for myriads of medical conditions that we don't show symptoms of and these would only be expressed in our offspring if our partner carried a matching gene. This is the same with Cord 1 PRA Carriers; perfectly healthy but carrying one copy of the gene.
However, as we have a DNA test available that can tell us each Dachshund's Cord1 PRA status, we can then avoid pairing two dogs that both carry a copy of this gene, making sure the puppies are never affected by the condition.
It is important to know that there is absolutely no eye health difference between a Cord1 PRA Clear or Carrier puppy/dog. As long as ONE parent is Cord1 PRA Clear, none of the offspring will be anything other than healthy in that department.
A problem would arise, however, if two Cord1 PRA Carriers were mated together, so for this reason, we must know the PRA status of our breeding dogs.
All of our girls here at Pelirroja are Cord1 PRA Clear, with the exception of one, and who is a Cord1 PRA Carrier. I generally only use Cord1 PRA Clear dogs at stud (and obviously always with a Cord1 PRA Carrier bitch) as the majority of stud dogs hold this PRA status anyway; this then automatically means my puppies are PRA Hereditary Clear. However, I wouldn't hesitate to use a Cord1 PRA Carrier stud with any of my Cord1 PRA Clear girls should he have the qualities I desired for my puppies. I would much rather use an excellent example of the breed who is a Cord1 PRA Carrier, than a stud who is mediocre in conformation with a poor temperament, purely because he is Cord1 PRA Clear.
Cord1 PRA Affected dogs are very few and far between now, as any reputable breeder who knows about the breed and the condition will never to mate two Cord1 PRA Carriers together to produce Cord1 PRA Affected puppies. There are only a handful of Kennel Club registered Cord1 PRA Affected dogs in the gene pool, and as long as they are mated to a Cord1 PRA Clear dog, their puppies would only ever be Cord1 PRA Carriers and not affected by the condition.
Being careful where you buy your Miniature Dachshund puppy is essential, as many
non KC registered Miniature Dachshunds will not have been tested for the Cord1 PRA mutation, therefore their owners won't know their Cord1 PRA status - they may not even know about the condition. If the owners of these dogs then decide to breed from them, selling their puppies on selling sites, they could have unknowingly mated two Cord1 PRA Carrier dogs together, producing Cord1 PRA Affected puppies - and you won't know as they don't either!
Any puppy that you purchase from non KC registered parents, who haven't had a Cord1 PRA test, could go blind at a very young age.
(For information: Standard Dachshunds DO NOT carry the Cord1 PRA mutation and there are NO health tests required, for this or any other inherited condition, for any of the three Standard Dachshund varieties)
Green and yellow dogs are both 'normal' and will never display symptoms of cord1 PRA. Red dogs are at risk of retinal degeneration from cord1 PRA. Yellow and red dogs MUST only be mated with green dogs otherwise they will produce puppies (Red) that are at risk of cord1 PRA