Unfortunately at this moment in time we do not have a DNA test to identify affected dogs or carriers. We can see from our testing results over the last two years that all tested dogs are clear of HC but we are also aware that opthamologists are operating on bichon for the condition. This suggests, so far, that HC is not in the show/breeder kennels but is prevalent in dogs from commercial or pet breeders.
I will be writing to all BVA Opthamologists asking them to submit to the Animal Health Trust (AHT) the DNA of any affected bichons that they come across. The aim is to have suffient DNA samples for the AHT to try and identify the gene responsible for HC. It should be noted that the identifying gene, which is similar in all canines, is not exactly the same for each breed. Some dogs will produce late onset of HC (aged 5-7) but by the time they are tested 'affected' they may well have already produced several litters with some of the resulting puppies producing the next generation. Ultimately we would like to be able to know whether puppies are clear, affected or carriers and having this knowlegde at the start of their lives will eliminate the need to have regular ongoing tests and to remove any affected, and just as importantly, carriers from a breeding programme.
Our health survey ended on 7th June with an amazing 801 returns making it the largest survey ever carried out on bichons worldwide. We will be examining the results of the survey and should we find any emerging problems or existing problems in sufficient numbers we WILL be acting on them to continue to preserve the health of our wonderful breed. The results, together with a report, should be available at the end of June.