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OFA are saying rcd4 has been found in English Setters as well as Gordons and Irish Setters, and that rcd1 is the same in Irish Setters and IRWS. I have never heard of rcd1 in IRWS so I wonder why they think its the same gene?


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Thank you very much for that link, Margaret!!!

Since 1995 when Posterior Polar Cataract was discovered, some 2000 eye tests have been done for IRWS by the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme - particularly for breeding stock.  Over the years, random owners have asked the ophthamologists if they look for PRA as well as other eye conditions and the answers have always been 'yes'.  If any numbers of PRA had been found, the breed would have been alerted and when the sufficient number of cases had occurred, this condition would have progressed to the Schedule A List - and the results of eye tests published in the Breed Records Supplement.  Only one unregistered pet IRWS was found to have PRA at age 6 in 2004.  He was followed up but the owner was not interested in cooperating with the breed and disappeared pretty quickly.... if only we had been able to get his DNA!!!!

The drive for DNA samples from 'old dogs' has thrown up 3 cases of PRA - not rcd1 -  and they and a a cohort of the 60+ 'old dog' DNA samples have been tested for rcd4 - none have that particular mutation.  The focus on dogs over the age of 8 is because PPC has a variable age of onset - eye testing usually stops after the dogs are past breeding age and it could be after this time that the cataract can be observed - too late if the dog has already been bred from..  There is also a spin off for veterinary science to be able to study the progress of the eye in the aging dog - plenty of candidates!


Because the IRWS has only recently been recognised by the AKC, OFA probably lumped IRWS with Irish Setters because there was no slot for them in the system.  I know many US owners have had their  dogs examined for PRA - have had the DNA test for rcd1?  But I have not heard of any IRWS with PRA in the USA.

I have also not heard of rcd1 in IRWS, although I knew some US owners have been having their dogs tested because Optigen offers an rcd1 test for IRWS. I wrote to Optigen asking how they knew it was same gene as in Irish Setters if no cases have been found in IRWS! I didnt get  a reply

This is the reply I got from OFA



Optigen has identified that the same gene causes PRA in both Irish Setters and Irish Red and White Setters. 


Thank you.


G.G. Keller, D.V.M., MS

Diplomate ACVR

Chief of Veterinary Services

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

I also spoke to Carol Fowler recently, she has a new website which lists known health problems in each breed of dog. She had listed rcd1 as a condition known in IRWS, because she had found the test listed on the Optigen site. I believe she has now removed it from her list

In Gordons initial studies were conducted on 10yo and over and then moved to 8 and over.

As most of us with older dogs will realise many of them present signs of failing sight which we attribute to "old age"  and will not be diagnosed.

Commendable that IRWS are testing "breeding stock" but if the PRA is late onset is it being missed in a general eye test and only picked up in a blood analysis?

Mel I can understand your cynicism - they are making a lot of money but they are all weve got!

The Gordoners I think managed AHT very well, monitored them throughout, provided intelligent contacts who queried their findings and were incredibly homest about the health of their stock.

Perhaps you are right, maybe some greedy geneticist has realised that there is money to ve made in declaring a breed is carrying an inherited defect but the upside is that dogs are tested and breeders who denied problems are eventually tracked down.  DNA leaves very few places to hide


Maybe they are not testing? Maybe they are not saying? You have to think though that if IS have it the only way IRWS dont have it is if there is some other suppressant gene (perhaps to do with colour) in the red and white.

Personally I think the AHT have realised tha yopu can peddle fear especially if you suspect dishonesty (that is my cynical belief)

If it is rcd 1 then as that is early onset if IRWS had it it would be fairly obvious even without testing.

I had an update on rcd4 in English Setters while talking to Cathryn Mellersh at Crufts on Friday . It  seems rcd4 has been confirmed  in some working English Setters in Norway. Now does that surprise me? Not a lot ;))

Interesting!  English Setters in Norway, then?  I presume they have UK breeding behind them... although the ES is a popular working setter in continental countries they have perhaps gone a long way from UK roots - or have they?

There is no mention of English Setter eye problems on websites here in the UK, Their problems seem to be hips, skin, thyroid and deafness. I can't remember having seen any BVA/KC/ISDS eye test results in the Breed Records Supplement either.

Did you find out if there has been any more IRWS PRA?  I missed Cathryn, but spent some time speaking to Sarah Blott and Gary Johnson.....


Nothing more to report  in IRWS.

The working English Setters in Norway  are a very long way removed from the show English Setters in the UK, and likely to have some  mixed ancestry including Gordons and possibly  Irish Setter too. I'm not in the least surprised to hear rcd4 has shown up there

Were you discussing an outcross programme for IRWS in GB with Sarah Blott on behalf of the  GB IRWSC. Is she the same lady who stated Irish Red Setters ,English Setters and Gordons could be used in any future outcross programme in GB for IRWS.




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