Eyes PRA, Optigen, CERF

There are various inherited and congenital eye problems found in all breeds of dogs including the Portuguese Water Dog breed. Some of these problems are expressed at an early age (eight weeks)and others cannot be diagnosed until well into adulthood. It is recommended that all pups have their eyes examined by a Board Certified ophthalmologist before going to their new home and that the owner receive a copy of the eye exam form from the breeder before sale is finalized.

Some problems that may be diagnosed at eight weeks are: entropion, ectropion, distichiasis, PPM (puppy pupillary membrane), microthalmia, cataracts, and a few others. Some of these diseases may need to be surgically corrected. And for some there is no cure.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an eye disease that will eventually cause blindness. Progressive rod-cone degeneration (prcd) is the form that affects the Portuguese Water Dog. It cannot be diagnosed by an eye exam until the dog is an adult, however, there is a DNA marker gene test than can determine dogs that are normal, carriers or affected. The test is available from Optigen, go to for additional information. Tests results are indicated by Pattern A or A1 for normal dogs that will never be affected by prcd and that cannot transmit the disease. Pattern B or B1 are carriers of prcd, but will not develop prcd and Pattern C or C1 indicates a dog will be affected with prcd. Pattern C dogs must get a copy of the gene from each parent to be affected. A pup that has at least one parent with an Optigen A rating will never have PRA but could be a carrier. Dogs with B or C ratings should only be bred to pattern A dogs to be sure that no pups will be affected with PRA. All pups from a litter that does NOT have at least one pattern A parent should be Optigen tested so that information can be available to the buyer before purchasing a pup.

EOPRA: Newly diagnosed form of PRA: A new form of PRA has emerged and appears to be an early onset variety as affected dogs are approximately two years of age. The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America is pleased to announce that Dr. Gustavo Aguirre, Dr. Keiko Miyadera and their lab at the University of Pennsylvania have identified the mutation gene and developed a test for Early Onset PRA that was found in the Portuguese Water Dog breed in the fall of 2012. OptiGen is targeting the end of October to have the test available. If anyone has submitted a sample from their dog in the past the chances are good that OptiGen still has the sample available for this new test, even if you did not pay for the long term storage. This has been another successful endeavor in addressing health issues in our breed by the PWDCA, our breeders and owners, and the PWD Foundation in working with our outstanding researchers. Please watch the OptiGen website for testing availability.

Effective April 1, 2018, all breeders must test at least one of a breeding pair for EOPRA at Optigen.

To ensure the overall health of the eyes, an annual eye exam by a Board Certified ophthalmologist is recommended for dogs to be used for breeding. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation, CERF, or the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Eye Certification Registry, OFA ECR, issue a certificate to owners for dogs with normal eyes. The evaluation done by either organization is only valid for one year. Both parents should have a current CERF or ECR exam and Optigen rating, and a copy should be shown to the prospective buyer. CERF shares test results with OFA and their database can be searched for individual dog’s results.