If you're planning to add a miniature schnauzer puppy to your household, it's very important to make sure that your dog's parents are certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. That's because these smart, active little dogs are genetically predisposed to several serious eye disorders.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy, as the name implies, keeps progressing until your miniature schnauzer's retina atrophies, rendering him blind. The retina, at the rear of the eye, senses light and sends images to the brain. The form of PRA commonly found in miniature schnauzers is photoreceptor dysplasia, which occurs only in this breed. A dog doesn't usually develop symptoms until the age 3 or older. Affected dogs start having difficulties seeing at night, and blindness eventually results. However, many miniature schnauzers with vision loss can live quite happily, providing their owners make some adjustment for their special needs.
Because affected puppies are born with retinal dysplasia, a veterinary ophthalmologist examining your miniature schnauzer puppy can tell you whether the puppy inherited this eye defect. According to the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, the gene for retinal dysplasia is inherited from both parents. The retina's layers don't form or attach properly when the puppy is in utero, although the severity ranges from minor to completely detached retinas that cause blindness. Even if the dog isn't badly affected, the retina can become detached as he ages. Moderately affected dogs might benefit from laser surgery. Other eye disorders, including glaucoma and cataracts, often develop in canines with retinal dysplasia.
Congenital cataracts once were quite common in the breed, but now now they're not often found in well-bred miniature schnauzers. This is because the American Miniature Schnauzer Club launched a campaign to keep dogs affected with the condition from breeding. Because these cataracts are present at birth, a veterinary ophthalmologist can see them as soon as the puppy's eyes open. Congenital cataracts affect both eyes, eventually causing blindness. If your miniature schnauzer develops ordinary, or adult, cataracts, he's probably 7 or older. You'll notice cloudiness in his eyes, as well as apparent vision problems. This type of cataract often responds to surgery.
Can you imagine your eyelashes constantly rubbing against your eyes, and how painful that must be? That's what happens in entropion, when your miniature schnauzer's eyelids roll inward. His eyelashes scratch his cornea, causing extreme irritation. This hereditary condition might be noticeable at birth or develop before your miniature schnauzer reaches his first birthday. Surgery usually corrects the condition and offers your dog relief.
- The American Miniature Schnauzer Club: The AMSCs Contributions to Miniature Schnauzer Health Research - Congenital Cataracts
- The American Miniature Schnauzer Club: Retinal Dysplasia in the Miniature Schnauzer
- Vetstreet: What You Need to Know About Miniature Schnauzer Health
- The American Miniature Schnauzer Club: The AMSCs Contributions to Miniature Schnauzer Health Research - PRA
- American Animal Hospital Association: Miniature Schnauzer
- EasyPetMD: Entropion
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.