Australian Shepherds are a beloved breed of dog, and it is essential to ensure their health and wellbeing. To do this, there are a variety of DNA tests available to assess the health of Australian Shepherds. Two tests, MDR1 (multidrug resistance) and an hereditary cataract screening test for the HSF4 gene, should be considered mandatory for all Australian Shepherds. MDR1 detects a mutation present in approximately half of the breed that can cause serious or fatal drug reactions.
All Australian Shepherds should be tested for this mutation. Additionally, breeding Australian Shepherds should be tested for cataracts; the HSF4 mutation, present in approximately a quarter of Australians, is a dominant risk factor gene that makes any dog with it more likely to develop cataracts. If both parents of a dog have previously been tested for the disease, there is no need to test it again. However, there are other health tests that should be performed on breeding dogs if a relative is affected or carries the mutation. These tests include those to detect collie eye anomaly and progressive rod-cone degeneration (a form of progressive retinal atrophy).Dogs with a double dose of genes that cause painful, crippling, or deadly health problems should be removed from the breeding population, unless the disease gene is so common that this severely reduces the population of breeding dogs. It is important to ensure that all Australian Shepherds are tested for MDR1 and HSF4 mutations in order to maintain their health and wellbeing.
Additionally, if any relatives have been affected by other diseases, further testing should be done to ensure that these diseases are not passed on to future generations.