Dry eye

Animal Health Trust - How to take a DNA sample

This page has been added as there is also a DNA test for Curly Coat and Dry Eye, so that this often terrible condition might be eliminated from the breed.

Congenital keratoconjunctivitis sicca and Ichtyosiform dermatosis, commonly known as Curly Coat and Dry Eye Syndrome affects a dog’s; eyes, teeth, coat growth and texture, skin and nails. Affected dogs are likely to produce few, if any, tears to lubricate the surface of the eyes, Leaving the eyes painfully sore and liable to become affected by repeated Corneal Ulcers in the absence of effective treatment. Extensive areas of skin can becomes very flaky and dry, particularly on and around the paws, which can make standing and walking difficult and painful. Teeth may also be affected, over time, becoming brittle and liable to splintering and breaking off above and below the gum line. Claws are often gnarled, hooked, dry and brittle, frequently leading to splintering and/or breakage.


This condition appears to be a problem unique to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who may exhibit some or all of the above symptoms, of varying intensity. 


Early in 2011 geneticists at The Animal Health Trust identified a recessive mutated gene associated with CC/DE. A DNA test was developed after a period of testing and research which it is hoped will provide a useful diagnostic tool to the veterinary profession and dog to breeders. The test became available from 18th April 2011 at a cost of around £50, with a discount given to breeders who are members of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club. This test is specific to the mutation causing Curly Coat and Dry Eye  Syndrome.

Applicants are supplied with swabs to be swished around the dog's mouth (see video above), picking up sufficient cells containing the DNA of the dog or bitch they wish to breed from or simply to have tested, which is sent off to the Animal Health Trust. Results will be sent to them identifying their dog or bitch as belonging to one of three categories:

CLEAR: These subjects have normal copies of the identified gene in their DNA, and will not be either affected by the Syndrome themselves, or be capable of passing it on to their puppies.

CARRIER: These dogs carry a copy of the gene in its mutated form without being affected themselves, but they are capable of passing on the mutation to approximately 50 percent of their offspring.

AFFECTED: These dogs have inherited copies of the mutation from each parent associated with CC/DE and are affected themselves. In no circumstances should they be bred from. They are likely to be clinically affected - and expert diagnosis and treatment plans should be devised.

Please note that it is possible and more commonly likely for Cavaliers to be affected by non congenital forms of Ichyosis or Dry Eye which will not be detected by the DNA test because it is a different and more easily treatable condition that he CC/DE Syndrome.

Further details are available from the Animal Health Trust's website page AHT DNA testing




There is now a discussion and information group on Facebook. If you would like to know more, or speak to other people about EF, then please join the Facebook group.

Cavalier Episodic Falling discussion group on Facebook


Cavalier Dry Eye and Curly Coat
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Dorset DogDotCom,
6 Feb 2016, 04:30