"Microphthalmia in Dogs

"Microphthalmia in Dogs

Health & Safety

Rottweilers as well as other breeds, are predisposed to inheriting an eye disorder known as microphthalmia. In some breeds, the mode of inheritance is known to be autosomal, but with Rottweilers more research is needed to establish it. The condition is relatively uncommon, but a dog's eyes would appear shrunken when they are diagnosed as suffering from microphthalmia whether both or just one eye is negatively impacted.

The condition explained

A dog's eyes first start to develop when a puppy is still in their mother's womb and continue to do so right through the gestation period. An inherited eye defect can be apparent when a puppy is first born or it can occur as they develop. When it comes to microphthalmia, either both or just one of a puppy's eyes can be negatively impacted and appear to be shrunken and therefore small. In some cases, the eye might be missing altogether. In some cases, a dog might what is referred to as a protuberant"" third eye.

Breeds and dogs most at risk

The condition although relatively rare is associated with specific breeds and dogs with certain coat colours with Rottweilers being one of them. Other breeds and dogs with a particular colouring that are more predisposed to inheriting the disorder include the following:

  • Australian Shepherds
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Corgis
  • Collies
  • Great Danes
  • Chihuahuas
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Pomeranians

When it comes to dogs with specific coat colours that are known to be predisposed to inheriting the condition, these are as follows:

  • Merle/dapple with a lot of white in their coats

Signs of there being a problem

The most obvious sign of there being a problem with a dog's eye or eyes are as follows:

  • They have a third eyelid
  • One or both eyes are small and recessed often giving the appearance of being shrunken into a dog's head

Diagnosing the problem

A vet would need to have a dog's full medical history before thoroughly examining their eyes and could recommend a dog be examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist. The sort of tests a vet could recommend carrying out to make a definitive diagnosis would include the following:

  • Full blood work
  • CT or MRI scan
  • Cerebral spinal fluid test

Treatment options

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the microphthalmia, but even with impaired vision, a Rottweiler can go on to lead a full and active life providing that both eyes are not affected and that they are not totally blind. Because the condition is due to a structural defect of a dog's eye or eyes, there is nothing that can be done to rectify the defect.

Breeding advice

Any dog that is born with the defect should be spayed or neutered whether one or both eyes are affected and no matter how mild or severe their condition is deemed to be. This is the only way to ensure that they cannot pass the defect onto their offspring. It is also worth noting that all lines that are known to from microphthalmia should not be used for breeding purposes as this is the only way of reducing the risk of the condition being passed onto their offspring.


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