You can click on any of the dates below to go directly to that news update.
 July 2020 The Animal Health Trust goes into liquidation and closes
 April 2020 Humeral condylar fractures - new study published by the RVC
 March 2020  2019/2020 Annual Health Report
 February 2020 Publication of ESS Breed Health & Conservation Plan
 December 2019 Changes to the official BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme
 September 2019 New research into Humeral Intracondylar Fissure (HIF) / IOHC
 September 2019  Kennel Club to limit automatic assignment of 'hereditary clear' status
 August 2019 New CombiBreed DNA test package offered by The Kennel Club
 February 2019  2018/2019 Annual Health Report
 December 2018  Completion of AMS mutation frequency study - results and conclusions
 March 2018  AMS DNA test now available at the Animal Health Trust and Laboklin
 February 2018  2017/2018 Annual Health Report
 December 2017  Changes to Kennel Club recording of Gonioscopy eye test results    
 July 2017  New Pilot Grading Scheme for Gonioscopy eye test results
 May 2017  Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS) DNA test now available in the UK
 April 2017 Introduction of official Kennel Club/ESS Breed Scheme for AMS DNA test
 March 2017 2016/2017 Annual Health Report
 February 2017 New Guidance for Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS) DNA testing
 September 2016 New KC/BVA Guidelines for Gonioscopy eye testing

July 2020:

The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket has gone into liquidation and is closing on 31st July 2020.  

The decision to cease operations was reached after several months of trying to secure the funding needed for a long-term viable future.  The site housed operations including small animal and equine veterinary referral centres, DNA testing laboratory and world renowned KC Genetics Research Centre.  It employed more than 250 staff and celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2017.  

As well as holding DNA samples for every thoroughbred horse registered in the UK, it also housed the UK's largest canine genome bank, including the entire genomes of 89 dogs from 77 breeds.   Since the KC Genetics Centre was founded in 2009, it has developed DNA tests for 22 different inherited diseases, benefiting around 50 different breeds of dog. On a positive note, the scientific data and biological material (including more than 40,000 DNA samples) have been secured and moved to Cambridge University.  These include over 900 ESS samples originally donated through a special recruitment campaign in 2016 for a study into the genetics of PRA in ESS.   All samples have been preserved for use in future genetic research.

As DNA testing is no longer available at the AHT, ESS owners should instead use these approved test laboratories

April 2020:

A study relevant to English Springers has been published by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC):  "Impact of breed on canine humeral condylar fracture (HCF) configuration, surgical management, and outcome."

Note: The humeral condyle is the name given to the end of the bone (called the humerus) at the top of the front leg (the forelimb). Along with the radius and the ulna (the two bones of the antebrachium or forearm), the humeral condyle makes up the elbow joint.

The aim of this study was to report the prevalence, types of fracture, risk factors, surgical fixation methods and outcomes after repair of humeral condylar fractures (HCF) in dogs.  The clinical records of 43,325 dogs referred to the RVC between January 2010 and August 2018 were searched, of which 112 dogs underwent HCF repair during that study period (3 dogs had fractures on both elbows). 

The most common breed types among HCF dogs were 27 French Bulldogs (24.1%), 21 English Springer Spaniels (18.75%), 13 Cocker Spaniels (11.6%), 12 Crossbreeds (10.7%) and 6 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (5.4%).

The breeds with the highest HCF prevalence were French Bulldog (2.40%), English Springer Spaniel (2.25%) and Cocker Spaniel (0.62%).

The study also showed that there were 35 complications from the 115 HCF repaired, giving a high overall complication rate of 30%.  One was catastrophic, 33 were classified as major and one as minor.  Eighteen of the complications were implant related and 12 were infection related.  Of those 18, one dog was euthanised due to a catastrophic complication, six dogs required revision surgery and six required removal of implants.

This study strongly reinforces previous evidence that English Springers are at a higher risk of humeral condylar fractures than many other breeds and that repair surgery can often lead to complications.  For those reasons and because of its serious impact on affected dogs, Humeral Intracondylar Fissure (HIF) / Incomplete Ossification of the Humeral Condyle (IOHC) is identified as an ESS health priority in our recently published Breed Health & Conservation Plan.  For further information on HIF/IOHC, please click HERE.  To read the full RVC study, please click on the icon below.

March 2020:

Our 2019-2020 ANNUAL ESS HEALTH REPORT has been published - to read it, click on the link below. 

February 2020:

OUR ESS BREED HEALTH & CONSERVATION PLAN HAS BEEN PUBLISHED - for a summary, please click HERE.  To read the full document, click on the link below.

December 2019:


Following consultation with the Eye Panel Working Party, the Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association have announced the following changes to the official Canine Health (Eye) Scheme, effective from 1st January 2020:

Removal of Schedule B

  • Schedule B will be removed. The Eye Scheme ‘sightings report’, which records and monitors evidence of conditions and abnormalities, will be used to add and remove breeds to and from the Known Inherited Ocular Disease (KIOD) List, previously known as Schedule A.  This lists breeds with known inherited eye conditions where there is enough scientific information to show that the condition is inherited in the breed.   Sightings reports have been collated by the Eye Panel Working Party alongside Schedule B for five years and will now be reviewed annually, allowing continued monitoring of the incidence of any conditions across all breeds. 
    Note:  Schedule B listed breeds with eye conditions ‘under investigation’.

  • Where evidence of new and emerging conditions has been noted via the sightings report, breeds may be considered for addition to the KIOD List, and where no reports of affected dogs have been noted for a period of five years, breeds may be considered for removal from this list.

  • English Springer Spaniels are on the KIOD List for Goniodysgenesis/Pectinate Ligament Dysplasia (re Primary Glaucoma), Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA), Retinal Pigment Epithelial Dystrophy (RPED) - also known as Centralised PRA (CPRA) and Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD). 

Publication of Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) results

  • MRD results will be published in the Breed Records Supplement and KC Health Test Results Finder online, rather than on an open register as previously.  Health test results will no longer be referred to as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, but rather ‘affected’ or ‘unaffected’.

Change to recommended frequency of eye screening

  • For KC Assured Breeders, all breeds on Schedule A must be eye screened within 12 months prior to the date of mating. The Assured Breeder Scheme rules will be altered to ensure that they accurately reflect this.
For full details of the KC/BVA announcement, please click HERE.

September 2019:


Humeral Intracondylar Fissure (HIF) or Incomplete Ossification of the Humeral Condyle (IOHC), is a condition in which there is a weakness in the humeral condyle (part of the elbow joint in the forelimb).  It is most commonly seen in Spaniels, particularly English Springer and Cocker Spaniels (although other medium and large breed dogs such as the Labrador Retriever may also be affected).  The cause of the condition is not yet fully understood.

In this condition, one of the bones (humerus) develops a split/crack (fissure line) which makes the bone weaker.  This weakness, which can be associated with mild to severe lameness and elbow pain, can lead to fractures (breaks) of the humeral condyle.  However, in some dogs HIF/IOHC does not cause any clinical signs and the condition goes unnoticed.  Early detection of this condition is therefore vital to prevent a fracture and future complications.

To treat this condition, surgery is currently the treatment of choice.  When HIF/IOHC is recognised as an incidental finding (i.e. without any associated symptoms) it is less clear if surgery should be performed or not.  The advantage of performing surgery at this early stage, is the reduction in risk of fracture in the future.

A pivotal research project is currently being conducted at The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre to identify the cause of HIF/IOHC and improve treatment outcomes for affected dogs.  They are currently enrolling cases into this project so, if you are concerned that your ESS has a persistent limp in his/her forelimb, please talk to your Vet about a referral to The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre in Marlow, Bucks. (Tel. 01628 308330) or ask them to contact Dr. Alan Danielski DVM MRCVS Dipl ECVS (European and RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery) at for more information.

For further details about HIF/IOHC, please click HERE.

September 2019:


Following on from a recent Kennel Club study published in the journal of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, a decision to restrict the automatic allocation of hereditary clear status was made by the Kennel Club Board on the recommendation of the Dog Health Group.  This change is being put in place to safeguard against the impact that dogs with an incorrect ‘hereditary clear’ status could have on health issues within a breed.

Hereditary clear status is given to dogs that are determined to be free of specific genetic material linked to a particular inherited disease.  The Kennel Club's registration system currently assigns a dog this status if both its parents are known to be clear, either because they have both been DNA tested as clear, or because they are hereditary clear themselves.

However, it is possible that dogs could be mistakenly given a false hereditary clear status for a number of reasons: for example if there has been an administrative failure of laboratory protocols, pedigree errors or incorrectly recorded parentage.***  In these instances it is unlikely that the inaccuracies would be noticed immediately, but rather that several generations later many more dogs that are descended from the individual with the original incorrect status will also have erroneous hereditary status, and the well-intended mating of two such apparently hereditary clear dogs risks producing affected puppies.

***NOTE: It is important to stress that any errors are not due to the scientific accuracy or validity of the DNA tests themselves.

The Kennel Club research analysed the risks faced by breed populations following the incorrect assignment of hereditary status and determined that the rate of dogs with false hereditary clear status could rise considerably over a fairly small number of generations, particularly for genetic conditions that are more common.

To reduce the knock-on effect of these errors, and the risk of unintentionally breeding affected puppies, the Kennel Club will be ensuring that from January 2022, 'hereditary clear status' will be limited to two generations, unless lineage is verified by DNA parentage profiling recorded by the Kennel Club.  If parentage has not been confirmed by DNA profiling, a dog with parents and grandparents with HC status will need to undergo DNA testing itself to confirm its genotype. 
DNA parentage profiling is a separate procedure to screening DNA for disease causing mutations, but can often be carried out at the same time by the same laboratory.

Kennel Club Genetics and Research Manager Dr Tom Lewis said: “Kennel Club advice has always been that even apparently ‘clear’ lines should be retested every few generations. This change to hereditary status reinforces that view and ensures that breeders can remain confident that the puppies they produce remain free from disease. DNA tests are helping breeders eradicate health issues in dogs and we want our registration system to maximise the impact these tests are having.”

The illustrations below show how the new 'two generation' limit will work after different mating combinations.

August 2019:


CombiBreed™ is a one-stop DNA testing package that allows owners to simultaneously access a number of different genetic tests using a single DNA sample, without the need to order each test individually.  The Kennel Club has partnered with the equine Thoroughbred registration body Weatherbys, to provide a simplified DNA testing process using state-of-the-art facilities at one of Europe’s leading DNA testing laboratories.  The package is initially being offered to thirteen breeds (Labrador Retriever, French Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Beagle, Border Collie, Rough Collie, Chinese Crested and Australian Shepherd.  These breeds were selected because they are popular and have several different DNA tests, but in time it is likely that more breeds will be added.

CombiBreed™ is a universal panel test for all the included breeds.  Instead of testing for a single breed-specific mutation, it uses modern technology to simultaneously test for a large number of mutations which have been reported as the cause of diseases in a number of breeds.  This is a standard method of volume testing.  However, it is recognised that not all mutations are either prevalent or the cause of disease in all breeds.  The reported results are therefore filtered by the laboratory and owners will only receive results for the specific disease mutations listed as relevant to their breed. 

For English Springers, there are FOUR relevant disease mutations listed under the CombiBreed package: Fucosidosis, PRA Cord1, AMS and PFK.  An ESS's genetic results (i.e. Clear, Carrier or Affected) for each of those four mutations will automatically be recorded by the KC on the dog's registration record and published on the KC’s online Health Test Results Finder.

The CombiBreed™ package can be ordered directly from the KC website. It is priced at £135 (incl. VAT) regardless of breed (as it is a universal panel test).  Kennel Club Assured Breeders are given a 10% discount, with the package costing £121.50 (incl. VAT).

For some breeds, the CombiBreedpackage offers a price saving compared to packages offered by other testing laboratories.  For English Springers, there is little price difference overall for carrying out all four individual tests.  The Kennel Club has made it clear that breeders are free to continue using other approved test laboratories – using CombiBreed™ is not compulsory – and results of DNA tests from those laboratories will continue to be accepted by the KC and published as before.

For further information, visit the KC website.

February 2019:

Our 2018-2019 ANNUAL ESS HEALTH REPORT has been published - to read it, click on the link below. 

December 2018:


A study to estimate the frequency of the AMS mutation in the UK ESS population has been carried out by geneticists at the Animal Health Trust.  It was initiated by the UK ESS Breed Clubs in order to gather evidence that could enable breeders to make informed decisions as to whether they should be routinely using the AMS DNA test.  The study cost a total of £3,600, half of which was met from a ring-fenced ESS Health Fund on behalf of the ESS Breed Clubs and half from a grant awarded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

The study used a large bank of ESS DNA samples originally donated to the AHT in 2016 for research into PRA.  591 ESS DNA samples were randomly selected from a total bank of 922 and screened for the AMS mutation - the identities and genetic status of the dogs whose samples were used will remain anonymous.


1.   The study found that 16 of the 591 samples had one copy of the mutation (i.e. they were carriers).

2.   Using the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, the study estimated that 97.31% of ESS in the UK are free from the AMS mutation, 2.67% are carriers and 0.02% will be affected (which equates to 2 affected dogs per 10,000).


The results indicate that the mutation frequency is very low.  However, these estimates are based on the assumption that all matings take place randomly throughout the ESS population.  In reality, most matings are highly selective and within separate ESS sub groups, which immediately affects the risks significantly.  Even with a low number of carriers overall, without knowing exactly where they are, breeders could be taking a risk with a mutation that may have devastating consequences.

Breeding Advice:

When deciding whether to use the AMS DNA test, breeders should consider the high impact of this traumatic disease, which strikes when dogs are very young and usually leads to euthanasia after a short period.  Therefore, even with a low mutation frequency across the Breed as a whole, the advice remains that breeders who want to avoid any risk of producing affected puppies should DNA test their ESS before breeding from them and ensure that at least one parent in any proposed mating is genetically CLEAR.

For more information on AMS, please click HERE.

March 2018:


The ESS DNA test for Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS) is now being offered by the Animal Health Trust* and Laboklin laboratories in the UK.  The test also remains available from Animal DNA Diagnostics.  All three laboratories automatically forward test results to the Kennel Club for recording and publication, as part of the official ESS/KC Breed Scheme for AMS. *Since this update was published, the Animal Health Trust has gone into liquidation and closed on 31st July 2020.

February 2018:

Our 2017-2018 ANNUAL ESS HEALTH REPORT has been published - to read it, click on the link below.

December 2017:


Gonioscopy eye test results have traditionally been recorded by the Kennel Club as either 'G' 'AFFECTED' or 'UNAFFECTED'.  Following the introduction of a Pilot Scheme by the BVA in July 2017, the KC has decided to change the way Gonioscopy results are officially recorded on their registration database, to bring them into line with the new gradings given by the BVA Panellists under the Gonioscopy Pilot Scheme.  The new recording system reflects more accurately what the Panellists observe and will provide owners and breeders with a greater level of information about the extent of any Goniodysgenesis, especially the extent of Pectinate Ligament Abnormality (PLA) / Dysplasia (PLD), which is a known risk factor for the future development of Primary Closed Angle Glaucoma.

(a)  All new Gonioscopy results received by the KC from 1st January 2018 onwards will have only a PLA grade (0, 1, 2 or 3) recorded.

(b)  Dogs that have undergone a Gonioscopy test and been given a PLA grade since the Pilot Study began on 1st July 2017, will have their 'G' 'UNAFFECTED' or 'AFFECTED' result removed and, in its place, the PLA grade (0, 1, 2 or 3) will be added to their registration record.

(c)   Results of Gonioscopy tests carried out before the introduction of the Pilot Study on 1st July 2017 will remain recorded as 'G' either 'UNAFFECTED' or 'AFFECTED'.

For an explanation of the new Gonioscopy PLA gradings and how to use them when making breeding decisions, click here.

July 2017:


The British Veterinary Association (BVA) Eye Panel Working Party has agreed to pilot a simple grading scheme for Gonioscopy eye tests under the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme.  This pilot study aims to give potential breeders the best scientific advice about reducing/eliminating Primary Closed Angle Glaucoma (PCAG) / Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma (PACG) without compromising genetic diversity.

The pilot study will start in July 2017 and the Eye Panel Working Party will assess its progress in November 2017.  There may be minor amendments during this interim stage if any new scientific evidence emerges.

While the Gonioscopy grading scheme is being piloted, the BVA will record the grades and the Kennel Club will continue to publish the results of Gonioscopy, as either 'Clinically unaffected' or 'Clinically affected', as is done at present.  The only change to the current arrangement is that owners will have access to the grading system proposed and agreed by the Eye Panel Working Party.  It should be noted that, at present, this is a pilot scheme and will not be formally adopted until 1st January 2018.

For further guidance and information from the BVA relating to the pilot grading system, please click here.
For more information about Glaucoma and Goniodysgenesis, click here.

May 2017:


We are pleased to confirm that the DNA test for AMS is now available in the UK from ANIMAL DNA DIAGNOSTICS laboratory in Cambridge, at a cost of £48 (inc. VAT).  Previously, this test was only available from Antagene laboratory in France, where it was originally developed.  We don't currently know if any other UK or overseas laboratories will offer the AMS test in the future. 
For more information about AMS and the procedure for DNA testing, click HERE.

The DNA test is also still available from ANTAGENE, at a cost of €75 (approx. £63).  Please note that any samples sent to Antagene must be verified by a Vet. 

Results of AMS tests carried out at Animal DNA Diagnostics will automatically be sent by the laboratory to the Kennel Club for recording on registrations.  However, owners will need to inform the Kennel Club themselves if they would like the results of tests carried out at Antagene to be recorded by the Kennel Club.

April 2017:


We have now received confirmation from the Kennel Club that an official English Springer Spaniel Breed Scheme for ACRAL MUTILATION SYNDROME (AMS) is now up and running.  To view the KC press release, click HERE.

Owners of dogs that have been DNA tested for AMS can now send the certified results to the Kennel Club for recording on registrations and publication in the Breed Records Supplement.  The results will also appear on Mate Select Health Test Results Finder on the KC website.

Scanned copies of test certificates should be emailed to the KC at  Alternatively, certificates can be sent to: Health & Breeder Services, The Kennel Club, Clarges Street, London W1J 8AB.

This DNA test is offered by Antagene Laboratory in France (  As the KC does not currently have an agreement with Antagene for results to be directly notified to them, results can only be recorded if they are submitted to the KC by owners.

March 2017:

To read our latest ANNUAL HEALTH REPORT 2016-2017 click HERE.

February 2017:


Canine Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS) is a devastating and incurable genetic condition leading to self-mutilation of toes, feet and legs, linked with insensitivity to pain.  It has an early onset (typically between the ages of 3 to 12 months), usually ending with euthanasia at a very young age.  It is inherited through a single autosomal recessive mutation in the same way as conditions such as Fucosidosis, Cord1 PRA and PFK.

In 2014, a DNA test became available for AMS in English Springers that determines their genetic status as Clear, Carrier or Affected.  The test is offered by the Antagene laboratory in France.  At the time, there was insufficient evidence to justify recommending that ESSs used for breeding should be DNA tested for AMS.  Unfortunately, it has recently emerged that a mating has taken place between two UK ESSs that were later both found to be carriers of the AMS mutation.  In an ESS gene pool with significant levels of common ancestry, it is therefore highly likely that a number of other carriers will also exist.  In light of this recent development, our advice on using the AMS test has now been amended. 

In order to avoid the risk of producing any dogs affected by AMS, ESSs used for breeding should be DNA tested for the AMS mutation and AT LEAST ONE PARENT CONFIRMED AS GENETICALLY CLEAR.

With sensible use of the DNA test results, it is still possible to use dogs that are AMS carriers in order to maintain genetic diversity and if it would be considered a serious loss to the breed to exclude them totally from breeding programmes.  However, breeders must be responsible for their own actions in ensuring that no ‘unsafe’ matings take place that could produce affected offspring.

For further information about AMS, click HERE.  To summarise some key information:

1)      The AMS DNA test is available from the Antagene laboratory in France.  Tests can be requested online at

2)      The test uses cheek swab samples – please note that samples for this test must be collected by a Vet – this is so that the dog’s identity can be verified from its microchip.

3)      The test costs 75€ for each dog (approximately £63 on current exchange rates).  Discounts are available for submitting samples from multiple dogs at the same time – owners should apply direct to Antagene for prices.

4)      There is currently no arrangement for the KC to receive DNA test results directly from Antagene.  However, if owners forward their dogs’ certified results to the KC, these will then be recorded on registrations and published in the Breed Records Supplement and on the KC website Health Test Results Finder.  We would encourage owners to report all AMS test results to the KC.

If anyone has any questions or would like any further information, please feel free to contact us at any time.

September 2016:


The Kennel Club and BVA have confirmed that Gonioscopy eye examination for English Springer Spaniels is no longer a one-off test and should, in future, be carried out every 3 years. They have issued the following statement:

In April 2016, at a meeting of the KC/BVA/ISDS Eye Panel Working Party, a group made up of experienced veterinary ophthalmologists, the frequency of Gonioscopy testing was discussed in response to research indicating progression of Pectinate Ligament Dysplasia (PLD) in both Flat Coated Retrievers and Welsh Springer Spaniels. There is also evidence of PLD progression in the Basset Hound, Dandie Dinmont and Leonberger. In these breeds, older dogs are affected with higher degrees of PLD than younger ones.

It was therefore agreed that the advice should be changed across all the BVA and Kennel Club’s Canine Health Schemes’ literature to advise that testing should be carried out every 3 years, unless any evidence to the contrary emerges. This is vital advice to ensure consistent identification of a condition that can lead to pain and blindness.

The BVA have produced a new advisory leaflet for Gonioscopy testing, which includes updated advice for dog breeds on Schedule A for Gonioscopy under the KC/BVA/ISDS Eye Scheme – please click HERE to view the leaflet.”

Primary Glaucoma is a devastating condition and anything that helps to identify dogs at risk is to be welcomed. The BVA and KC have reached this decision based on scientific research and in the best interests of the breeds concerned. Breeders should have confidence in the gonioscopy test and continue to use it. Results should be considered in the same way as those for the standard annual eye test – i.e. there is a possibility that clinical signs could change over time, therefore the test needs to be repeated.

Gonioscopy remains a requirement as a one-off test for ESS registrations under the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) – the new 3-yearly guideline is likely to be reflected in the breed-specific ABS requirements in future, but a formal decision about when this will take effect will not be made until nearer the end of this year. We will, of course, provide an update on this and any other further developments. In the meantime, if anyone has any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact the ESS Health Co-ordinators at any time.