Prior to purchasing an Australian Cattle Dog, you should be aware that, like most breeds, they have certain hereditary and congenital problems which should be discussed with the breeder.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy relates to a group of inherited diseases that can result in loss of sight in many breeds of dog. Most forms of Progressive Retinal Atrophy are thought to be transmitted as simple Mendelian recessives but they differ in their age of development.
Progressive Rod/Cone Degeneration is the type of Progressive Retinal Atrophy that is found in the Australian Cattle Dog.
This disease is known to have caused blindness in Australian Cattle Dogs as young as 3 years, but some dogs do not develop signs of the disease until they are 6 or 7 years old, or even older.
Progressive Rod/Cone Degeneration has been around from early in the breed’s history but because it is usually late in the dog's life when it develops, affected animals may already have been used for breeding before the disease is diagnosed.
It's interesting to note that a dog that develops Progressive Rod/Cone Degeneration must inherit the gene from both parents, as a dog that inherits the gene from one parent and the healthy gene from the other will not go on to develop Progressive Rod/Cone Degeneration.
Having said that it is quite possible that the dog will pass the disease on to any pups.
Your Australian Cattle Dog could inherit sensorineural deafness, sometimes related to pigmentation genes that make up the white color in the coat of the dog but tests have shown that deafness does not develop in dogs until after the first few weeks of life.
Deaf dogs will need special care and dedicated, experienced trainers for their development.
Hip Dysplasia develops in many breeds of dogs. In some cases it is the most common cause of degenerative joint disease. The term dysplasia is a condition that results in abnormal looseness of the hip joints. This is a disease that can vary in degrees and x-rays must be taken to evaluate the seriousness of the problem.
There are several types and levels of patella luxation. The patella or kneecap can luxate or dislocate medially which is towards the body, or laterally which is away from the body and can be caused by trauma or it can be inherited.
This condition has been apparent in Australian Cattle Dogs for some time with the breed suffering from lateral luxation in most instances. An operation is not usually advised, as in about half of all cases treated surgically the problem reoccurs, sometimes as early as 1 year, unless the dog shows symptoms such as pain or gait irregularities.
The condition can be easily diagnosed by your veterinarian and a simple examination of the patella can be carried out. Dogs that have this problem should not be bred as the likelyhood of passing the condition on to the offspring is high.