Eye Health

The Clumber Spaniel Club applauds breeders of Clumber Spaniels for addressing eye health which has shown good improvement over recent years.

The most common eye problems in Clumber Spaniel are associated with the surround of the eye (adnexa), principally entropion where the eyelids roll in and ectropion where the eyelids roll out. Some Clumbers may suffer from tear staining and this can usually be resolved by regular cleaning. However Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) has now been found in the breed.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease of the retina that leads to blindness in affected dogs; the condition usually takes a long time to develop and night blindness can be an early indicator. As the disease progresses, dogs will also lose the ability to see when it is light and eventually will lose their sight completely.

There are many genetic variants, each affecting different breeds, but all cause a degeneration of the retina at the back of the eye. It is a disease that is often identified as a late onset condition in that it is seen in older dogs. Currently there is no treatment for progressive retinal atrophy.

Some Clumbers may lose their sight but this can be due to a variety of causes as is evident from the BVA eye test results.

The Clumber Spaniel Club became aware that a number of Clumber Spaniels that have been screened by Embark in the USA have been identified as carriers for PRA with a limited few being found to have two copies of the faulty gene; however none of these are clinically affected.

Advice was sought from the Kennel Club, the British Veterinary Association and the Animal Health Trust and as there had never been a recorded case of PRA in the UK for Clumbers it was thought that although we may find a high level of carriers with the faulty gene, either the gene that is identified did not lead to PRA in Clumbers or they have something else that keeps them from developing it.

There are now two Clumbers that have been confirmed as clinically affected with PRA and a DNA sample was tested by the AHT to determine which variant of the disease was present.

The PRA mutation that has been found is the RPGRIP1 (cord 1) variant that was first identified in Miniature Dachshunds by the AHT and has since been noted in English Springer Spaniels. It is a recessively inherited condition and a dog would need to inherit two copies of the faulty gene to be at risk of developing this form of PRA.

PRA follows an autosomal recessive trait of inheritance; the inheritance factor is shown in the following table:

Clear x Clear = 100% Clear
Clear x Carrier = 50% Clear + 50% Carriers
Clear x Affected = 100% Carriers
Carrier x Clear = 50% Clear + 50% Carriers
Carrier x Carrier = 25% Clear + 25% Affected + 50% Carriers
Carrier x Affected = 50% Carriers + 50% Affected
Affected x Clear = 100% Carriers
Affected x Carrier = 50% Carriers + 50% Affected
Affected x Affected = 100% Affected

Laboklin has validated a DNA test using samples from the clinically affected dog and plus several Clumbers that Embark had determined to have two copies of the faulty gene but were not yet clinically affected. The sample for the test is gathered by a simple mouth swab.

The following advice from Laboklin should be noted:

Not all dogs tested affected genetically for cord 1 PRA have
developed the PRA clinical symptoms, which is also the case in other breeds
including Miniature Dachshunds and English Springer Spaniel, we must make it
clear that not all Clumber Spaniels tested as genetically affected for cord
1 PRA will definitely develop PRA.

It is thought that in there are other factors, which maybe genetic or otherwise that affect the onset of clinical symptoms in genetically affected dogs, and therefore, test results will have
the following statement: “Association between the cord 1 PRA mutation and
symptoms of PRA is not always observed”

A dog tested “Clear” has not inherited the faulty gene and is free from the disease.

A dog tested as a “Carrier” has inherited one copy of the faulty gene; it will never display any symptoms but may pass the gene to their offspring.

A dog tested as “Affected” has inherited two copies of the faulty gene; it MAY display symptoms and will always pass on one copy of the gene to their offspring.

Members of the Clumber Spaniel Club and Working Clumber Spaniel Society will qualify for a 10% discount on the Laboklin test; further information on this can be obtained from Carol Page on 01489 589734 or health@clumberspanielclub.org.uk

Screening Project into the Prevalence of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in the UK population of Clumber Spaniels

The Clumber Spaniel Club is undertaking a study to investigate the prevalence of the condition within the UK population using DNA testing. It will also use the BVA Eye Test scheme to see if any of the dogs found to be genetically “Affected” are also clinically affected for the condition. The Club has engaged the help of Laboklin for this project; they will issue test forms specifically for this project and the results will be shared with the Club as well as the owner.

Further details and an application form for the study can be downloaded here

Previous PRA Test Results can be found here-  PRA Test Results

If you would like to have your Clumber’s PRA test result included please forward a copy of the result to Carol Page, Micklemess, 20, Swanwick Lane, Swanwick, Southampton SO31 7HF or e-mail

BVA Eye Testing

Eye testing is recommended by the Club and is also carried out under a KC/BVA scheme. The Clumber Spaniel Club offers a subsidy for all Clumber Spaniels being eye tested and holds an annual eye testing clinic in conjunction with its Championship Show in October.

The current subsidy offered is as follows:

  • At the Club’s annual eye testing day: £20 of the cost for each Clumber Spaniel tested that is owned by  an existing member and £10 of the cost for each Clumber Spaniel tested that is owned by a non member.
  • For all other eye tests the subsidy will be £10 for each dog tested owned by an existing member and £5 for each dog tested owned by a non member once a copy of the eye test certificate is received by the Breed Health Coordinator.
  • All Clumber Spaniels aged 8 and over will be tested at the Club’s expense.

The results of KC/BVA eye tests for Clumber Spaniels are not published therefore the Club has established a voluntary database for the results. Anyone wishing to contribute should send a photocopy of their dog’s eye test certificate to:

Carol Page, Micklemess, 20, Swanwick Lane, Swanwick, Southampton SO31 7HF or e-mail

Previous eye test results can be found here – Eye Test Results

Useful Reference Information

The following is a list of definitions for some terms commonly used on the eye test certificates:

  • Belepharitis – inflammation of the eyelids
  • Distichiasis – extra eyelashes
  • Ectropion – eyelids roll out, usually the lower lids
  • Entropion – eyelids roll in, in some cases eye lashes and hairs on the outside of the lids will cause irritation of the eye
  • Macroblepharon – increased palpebral fissure

A list of forthcoming eye testing clinics can be found on the BVA website