Miniature Schnauzer Health
The Miniature Schnauzer is a robust, medium sized breed that is generally considered to be healthy but to ensure that we maintain this position an Annual Health Report is produced and forwarded to the Kennel Club.
In addition, an annual healthy survey is carried out in order that we can identify and hopefully tackle problems that prove numerically significant. The Northern Schnauzer Club has a fundamental duty of care for the health of the breed and as such encourages breeders and owners alike to participate in the Northern Schnauzer Club breed health plans.
Therefore, when looking for a puppy, you are strongly advised to ask the breeder for up to date details on the health of the dam, sire and puppies as well as the general health status of the breed. The Northern Schnauzer Club recommends that, as a minimum, breeders adhere to the required health screening tests relevant to the Miniature Schnauzer i.e. at the time of publication:
- eye testing for Hereditary Cataracts (HC) Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and litter screening puppies eyes for Congenital Hereditary Cataracts (CHC)
- DNA Screening for Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC)
Unfortunately the genetic position regarding many conditions currently remains unclear. There is a possibility that some health problems may have an inherited link within the breed. However there are no conclusive answers as to the mode of inheritance for such conditions which can present a challenge to the breed and canine world in general. As such a collaborative and long term approach to minimising incidences of any health problem is required and real life data collection is key. In the interim the Northern Schnauzer Club recommend a common sense approach, in that breeders should avoid the mating of affected dogs and also avoid repeat matings that produced affected offspring. The health status of any breeding pair and their ancestry requires careful consideration.
Hopefully with the help of breeders, owners and advancements in research and technologies the future may provide more conclusive answers that will assist in keeping our breed as healthy as possible.
In order to get a full picture, it is important that we capture data about healthy dogs, those who have encountered health problems as well as those that have died. All information will be treated in the strictest of confidence and we would encourage all Schnauzer owners to contribute to the Annual Breed health Survey which can be found http://www.schnauzerhealthsurvey.org.uk
Details for both Hereditary Eye Problems and MAC can be found on the link “Health Testing” below.
Health Testing - Miniature Schnauzers
- Hereditary Eye Problems
‘Congenital Hereditary Cataracts’ (CHC), ‘Hereditary Cataracts’ (HC) & Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), can occur in the Miniature Schnauzer. Until DNA tests are able to help eradicate these conditions from the breed, caring breeders must eye-test any dog or bitch used in breeding programme and screen every litter. This is now a mandatory requirement for our Club members. Testing is by a veterinary ophthalmologist registered with the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club (BVA/KC) Eye Scheme Panel.
When looking for a puppy, any caring and responsible breeder will be happy to show you the Eye Test Certificates of the mother (dam) and confirm that the sire has a clinically unaffected certificate (both should be dated within the previous 12 months). You would also see the Litter Screening Form proving the litter is clear of one of the eye conditions (CHC) at the time you collect your puppy.
When should we Eye Test?
Congenital Hereditary Cataracts (CHC): Puppies must be eye-screened, by a BVA/KC Eye Scheme panellist, between 5 & 8 weeks & before they leave the breeder. A copy of the litter screening form should be provided to the new owner.
Hereditary Cataract (HC) – sometimes referred to as ‘Juvenile’ or, in the USA, as ‘CJC’ – can only be diagnosed from about 6 months onward, and sometimes even later than aged 2 years. All dogs must be eye-tested prior to breeding.
Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) may not appear until 12 months upwards, but may be detected in some breeds at any point between 6 months and 6 years. The earliest reported case in Miniature Schnauzers was in a 3-year old.
Annual eye testing is necessary to identify HC or PRA, as both these conditions develop later.
To summarise: All Miniature Schnauzers should be eye-tested before being bred from and then annually whilst used in any breeding programme irrespective of age.
The Need to Eye Test regularly
Because there is, as yet, no DNA test for these conditions, it’s imperative that all Miniature Schnauzers, especially those used for breeding, are checked annually, up to about 8 years of age, by a BVA/KC Eye Scheme panellist. Ask your breeder or Vet, to give you more information and how to obtain the name of your closest BVA Eye Panellist.
What should I do if my Dog has problems?
If your dog is diagnosed with CHC, HC or PRA or any other hereditary condition, it’s so important for Miniature Schnauzers for you to tell the secretary of the Miniature Schnauzer Club (MSC), Northern Schnauzer Club (NSC), The Schnauzer Club of Great Britain (SCGB) or the Joint Miniature Schnauzer Eye Fund (JMSEF) as well as your breeder. You would help even further by completing our Health Survey form on-line at www.schnauzerhealthsurvey.org.uk
Why should we tell anyone?
Things occur even in the most carefully planned breeding programmes. Only by sharing such vital information will we be able to work towards eradicating these problems from our breed. It’s essential to tell the owners of the sire and dam, because they should not be bred together again. It’s equally important to owners of other puppies in the litter, because great care will be needed if any were used for breeding.
Why hasn’t a solution been found yet?
Because of the unknown mode of inheritance, (thought to be ‘recessive’) it’s not possible to identify dogs, which carry the defective gene. Eye testing is the one positive action that caring breeders take, and if owners of affected dogs advise other owners, through the 3 breed clubs, then alternative breeding can be followed.
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is currently working on CHC, part funded by the Joint Miniature Schnauzer Eye Fund (JMSEF), aimed at finding a DNA test to identify the gene(s) which cause this condition. Work has yet to commence for HC or PRA, although projects for these conditions in other breeds may help locate a solution for Miniature Schnauzers
What are the Breed Clubs doing?
The 3 clubs responsible for Miniature Schnauzers (MSC NSC & SCGB) support the BVA/KC Eye-Testing Scheme, organise low-cost eye-testing sessions and help raise funds, through JMSEF, to assist research with the AHT.
 Eye Scheme Panellists can be found on BVA’s website www.bva.co.uk (click on Canine Health Schemes, then click on Eye Scheme – this shows the latest eye test cost & details of local eye sessions) or on the JMSEF’s website www.jmsef.co.uk
- Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC)
New DNA testing scheme for Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC) in Miniature Schnauzers has been approved by the Kennel Club
The Kennel Club (KC) following consultation with the Northern Schnauzer Club (NSC), Schnauzer Club of Great Britain (SCGB) and Miniature Schnauzer Club (MSC) has approved the Official DNA Testing Scheme for MAC. As a result, the KC has sent emails to all breeders of Miniature Schnauzers detailing the information.
This collaborative approach between the 3 Clubs has also led to an agreement that the Clubs recommend, in line with Dr Giger and the American Miniature Schnauzer Club‘s (AMSC) guidance that:
PRIOR TO MATING, all Miniature Schnauzers should be DNA tested for MAC unless BOTH parents have been DNA tested and BOTH are ‘Normal/Clear’
The reasoning behind this recommendation is that although there is common ancestry in all carriers to date, (i.e. Bandsman Newsprint and Jerry O’s Future Shock on one, or both sides of the pedigree), potential exceptions are being investigated.
DNA-tested dogs’ results are certified ‘Normal’, ‘Carrier’ or ‘Affected’.
MAC is an autosomal recessive condition, i.e. to be ‘Affected’ with this disease, the dog has two copies of the abnormal gene (one from its mother AND one from its father). A dog that only has ONE copy of the abnormal gene, (from its mother OR father), will have no signs of the disease but, as a ‘Carrier’, may pass the gene onto any offspring. A dog DNA-tested ‘Normal’ does not have the abnormal genes for this condition.
The availability of the DNA test is therefore really good news. All caring, responsible breeders can help eradicate this disease from the breed, by having any dog or bitch DNA tested, prior to being used in a breeding programme.
DNA testing does not determine if you can breed or not, but with whom.
- Puppies from ‘Normal’ x ‘Normal’ parents will be clear;
- Puppies from ‘Normal’ x Carrier’ parents must be tested before they are used in future breeding programmes.
The DNA test (current cost US$75) is available from PennGen, University of Pennsylvania, USA and for further details and how to register go to:
Swab kits are available from: Chris Ellingworth on: