February 2024:  **URGENT**  Canine Genetics Centre Funding Appeal

The Canine Genetics Centre (CGC) at the University of Cambridge, led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, is globally recognised as a leader in the field of canine genetics research.  Hundreds of thousands of dogs worldwide, along with their breeders and owners, have benefitted from DNA tests developed by the CGC.

The CGC's main sponsors, the Kennel Club and Kennel Club Charitable Trust, are unable to continue providing general financial support after the end of March 2024, which leaves the Centre facing an immediate funding gap of £345,000 if they are to retain the current research team for a 12-month period from 1st April 2024.  

They are working hard to find alternative sponsors and develop a longer-term funding plan, but in the meantime they are appealing to all owners, breeders and breed clubs to help bridge the immediate shortfall.

Please consider making a donation, knowing (if you are a UK taxpayer) that with Gift Aid, every £1 you donate means £1.25 for the CGC.  Even a modest contribution can make a real difference.  

Donate or pledge at

One more way to support the Canine Genetics Centre is to use their in-house commercial laboratory, Canine Genetic Testing (CAGT), for DNA testing your dogs.  All profits from CAGT are used to support the Canine Genetics Centre and all residual DNA samples are retained indefinitely for future use by the Genetics Centre whenever needed.  They offer an excellent service and are competitively priced for individual tests and combined test ‘bundles’.  Tests can be ordered online at

You can also follow progress of the funding appeal on the CGC's Facebook page page.

November 2023: Kennel Club announce changes to accepted DNA testing laboratories

The Kennel Club has announced changes to the list of approved laboratories it will accept DNA test results from.  

The accuracy of the DNA test results recorded by the KC is crucially important for the integrity of its database, and consequently, for the validity and quality of the advice given to breeders.  To align with changes in the genetic testing industry, the KC is introducing essential criteria which all laboratories, both new and previously recognised, must now meet in order for DNA test results to be accepted for recording.  Details of the new criteria can be found in the official KC press release - click on the link below.

For laboratories which have been on the list of accepted laboratories to date, but do not appear on the revised list, there will be a grace period where the KC will continue to record their results until the end of 2023.  However, as of 1st January 2024 (date of test result), the results from laboratories not on the revised list will no longer be accepted into the KC's database. 

A revised list of approved laboratories the KC will record results from are listed below:

Laboratories for whom verification is currently in progress include:

An updated list of approved laboratories can also be found on the KC website.  Click HERE, then scroll down to "Laboratories we record and publish the results from".

October 2023: ESS DNA test for Paradoxical Pseudomyotonia

We are aware of a newly discovered mutation which appears to be associated with Paradoxical Pseudomyotonia in English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels.  

In dogs with the disorder, muscles take longer to relax (remain stiff) after voluntary contraction (mainly during exercise).  When having an episode, they experience the sudden onset of muscle stiffness, causing them to look like they are “running in a computer game” or getting “stuck” while climbing steps or performing small jumps.  

The PP variant is recessive, so it is safe to breed from carriers provided either the sire or the dam is clear of the mutation.  A DNA test is available in the UK from CAGT (Canine Genetic Testing), who are offering a 20% discount until 31st December 2023 (price reduced from £48 to £38.40).

IMPORTANT NOTE:  As the discovery of the mutation is very recent, based on a small number of clinically affected dogs, and there appears to be a significant variability in the severity of the symptoms, we are currently gathering more information working with the KC and geneticists before any decision is made on whether this test should be added to the list of tests officially recognised for the Breed. 

For further information, including links to videos of affected dogs, please click HERE.

October 2023: DAMS DNA test now available from CAGT laboratory

The DAMS DNA test is now available from CAGT (Canine Genetic Testing) in Cambridge - previously, it had only been available in the UK from Laboklin laboratory.  CAGT are offering a 20% discount until 31st December 2023, reducing the price from £48 to £38.40.  The test can be ordered online directly from the CAGT website.

August 2023: Laboklin UK offers 10% discount on DAMS DNA test to Breed Club members

If you are a UK member of any of the UK ESS Breed Clubs, Laboklin Laboratory (UK) is offering a 10% discount for the DAMS test until 31st December 2023 (price reduced from £48 to £43.20).  Click on the link below to request a test at the discounted price. 

July 2023: DAMS (Dyserythropoietic Anaemia and Myopathy Syndrome) in ESS

In August 2022, a genetic mutation was discovered in show-type ESS in Sweden that causes a condition called Dyserythropoietic Anaemia and Myopathy Syndrome (DAMS).  DAMS is inherited through an autosomal recessive trait, which means that affected dogs have to inherit two copies of the mutant gene (one from each parent).  

DAMS is an early onset high impact and ultimately fatal disease.  The main symptoms are anaemia and impaired muscle function and muscle wasting. Affected dogs begin to show symptoms shortly after birth, progressing over time until the dog can no longer walk, jump, eat, drink and move freely. It varies individually in how long it takes before the symptoms increase to such an extent that the dog can no longer live with the disease and has to be euthanised.  

A DNA test is currently being offered in the UK by Laboklin Laboratory. Fortunately, recessive inheritance means it is safe to breed from carriers without risk of producing affected offspring, provided they are mated to dogs that are known to be clear of the mutation.

Approximately 20% of the Scandinavian dogs tested so far have been found to be carriers of the mutation. As there is a crossover between many Scandinavian and UK breeding lines, several concerned UK breeders have decided to test some or even all of their current stock. At this stage it is impossible to know what the mutation frequency is in the overall UK ESS population. We would encourage and support any breeders who are concerned that the DAMS mutation might affect their current breeding lines and want to avoid any possibility of producing affected dogs, to use the DNA test for their own peace of mind as well as contributing towards much needed data.

For further information on DAMS, click HERE.

March 2023: 2022-2023 ESS Health Report

Our 2022-2023 ANNUAL ESS HEALTH REPORT has been published - to read it, click on the link below. 

October 2022: Kennel Club Launches New DNA Testing Services

The Kennel Club is replacing CombiBreed with a new KC DNA Testing Service from 1st November 2022.  

As with CombiBreed, the new product 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 four previous DNA tests for English Springer Spaniels (AMS, Fucosidosis, PFK and Cord1 PRA) will be included as before.

One of the most important changes is that the new product also includes DNA profiling as standard with the ESS test bundle.

The price for the ESS breed package will be £140, with profiling included at no additional charge. A 10% discount will be available for ABS breeders and KCAI members, and they are also offering a promotion throughout November whereby all packages for the breed will be £20 off.    Further information can be found on the KC website by clicking HERE.

The data collated through this service will contribute towards further canine genetic research and aid The Kennel Club’s future health initiatives, and all funds are to be reinvested into ongoing research.

July 2022: The Kennel Club Pauses Plan to Limit Assignment of 'Hereditary Clear' Status

The Kennel Club has announced that it is unfortunately necessary to pause the changes to its policy on ‘hereditary clear’ status.  It had previously announced that, from January 2023, the assignment of ‘hereditary clear’ status of registered dogs would be limited to two generations, unless lineage is verified by DNA parentage profiling. Unfortunately, technical challenges have meant that they need to pause this complex project, which requires extensive testing before it can be implemented, and allow further development work to be carried out.  

Therefore, The Kennel Club’s current policy for assigning ‘hereditary clear’ status to the offspring of parents that are known to be clear for the same autosomal recessive condition (either because they have both been DNA tested as clear, or because they are hereditary clear themselves) will remain for the foreseeable future.  The future plan is still to implement the limitation of ‘hereditary clear’ status and The Kennel Club will release further communications regarding this in due course. 

‘Hereditary clear’ status is given to dogs that are determined to be free of specific genetic material linked to a particular inherited disease.

Following on from a Kennel Club study, published in the journal of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, a decision to restrict hereditary status was made by The Kennel Club Board to safeguard against the impact that dogs with an incorrect ‘hereditary clear’ status could have on health issues within a breed. Dogs could be mistakenly given a false ‘hereditary clear’ status for several reasons e.g., if there has been a failure of laboratory protocols, pedigree errors or incorrectly recorded parentage.  In these instances, it is unlikely that the inaccuracies would be noticed immediately but instead several generations later, and the well-intended mating of two apparently hereditary clear dogs risks producing affected puppies.  

The Kennel Club continues to strongly recommend that all breeding dogs, including apparently ‘clear’ lines, are retested every three generations to reduce the impact of errors and ensure the ‘hereditary clear’ status is as effective and reliable as possible, thereby reducing the risk of unintentionally breeding affected puppies.


November 2021: New Canine Genetic Testing (CAGT) Service Opens For Business

A new canine genetic testing service, Canine Genetic Testing (CAGT), opened its doors for business on Monday, 22nd November 2021. The service will operate from the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge and offers a range of genetic tests for inherited canine disorders.  Initially, this laboratory is able to offer the AMS and PFK DNA tests for English Springers.  They hope to add the Fucosidosis and Cord1 PRA tests to their services within the next few weeks.  

Before moving to the University of Cambridge, some members of the CAGT team worked in the Genetic Testing Service at the Animal Health Trust until its closure in July 2020, and they bring with them considerable expertise in the field of canine genetics and genetic testing.

Full details on the available tests, pricing and ordering procedure can be found on the CAGT website at  At this early stage, they are only able to offer tests to customers based in the UK, but they plan to extend this to overseas customers as soon as possible.

A summary of the major accredited UK laboratories offering DNA tests for ESS can be found HERE

September 2021: HIF (Humeral Intracondylar Fissure) Study (Part 1) Results Published 

The first part of the pivotal research study being carried out at The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre has been published in the Veterinary Surgery journal.  The study provides an in-depth look at the possible cause of HIF that has never been identified before.  Through arthroscopy (a miniature camera placed inside the elbow joint) it found that in the Spaniels that were suffering from HIF, there is a misfit (incongruency) between two bones of the elbow joint: the humerus (which sits at the front) and the ulna (at the back).  This is due to the fact that the ulna is slightly shorter than it should be and it is therefore impinging (pushing against) the bone at the front, causing the lesion at the back of the humerus reported in the study.   

It is this continuous pushing force against the humeral condyle that is believed to be the cause of the formation of the humeral intracondylar fissure, i.e. the crack/split/line of weakness (stress fracture phenomenon)This would also explain why so many screws break after a few years from being placed to strengthen the elbow joint.

Looking at improving this misfit between bones could be the solution to achieving healing of the HIF (which is well renowned for not healing even after a screw has been placed).  Hopefully the next year or so may give the answer to this question once the second part of the study being performed at The Ralph reaches conclusion.  Click on the link below to read the full published paper.  More detailed information on HIF/IOHC, can be found HERE.

September 2021: Lucy's Law Now Applies in England, Scotland and Wales

Lucy’s Law, which has been in force in England since April 2020, has now also come into effect in Scotland (1st September 2021) and Wales (10th September 2021).  The law requires puppies (and kittens) to be born and reared in a safe environment, with their mother, and to be sold from their place of birth.

The legislation means third parties are banned from selling puppies and also means that anyone wanting to buy or adopt a puppy aged under six months would need to deal directly with the breeder or an animal rehoming centre, rather than a pet shop or commercial dealer. 

If a business sells puppies (or kittens) without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months. The ban is also designed to deter smugglers who abuse the Pet Travel Scheme to bring young animals into the UK to be sold for financial gain.  

Click HERE for advice on Buying An ESS Puppy.

July 2021: Kennel Club Limitation on 'Hereditary Clear' Status Postponed to January 2023

Following the announcement that The Kennel Club will limit the assignment of ‘hereditary clear’ status of registered dogs to two generations, the organisation has announced that this change is now set to be implemented as of January 2023.  It was originally due to come into effect from January 2022.  Further details can be found in our original news update in September 2019.

Click HERE to read the full statement from The Kennel Club.

May 2021: 2020-2021 ESS Health Report

Our 2020-2021 ANNUAL ESS HEALTH REPORT has been published - to read it, click on the link below. 

March 2021:  RVC Canine Obesity Study Shows ESS as One of the Highest Risk Breeds

A new study from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) VetCompass programme has revealed the scale of the overweight epidemic in dogs in the UK, with 1 in 14 dogs recorded by their vets as overweight each year.  The study also found that English Springer Spaniels were the fourth most 'at risk' breed found to be especially prone to weight gain, after Pugs, Beagles and Golden Retrievers.

The study included 22,333 dogs whose health was followed for a year, using anonymised health records of veterinary surgeriesAs well as showing that specific breeds were at differing risk, the study also highlighted that being neutered and middle-aged were additionally associated with increasing chances of dogs being overweight.   

Obesity carries severe welfare risks for dogs. Obese dogs have shortened life spans, reduced quality of life and higher frequencies of some important conditions including arthritis, breathing problems, heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. This new study provides a much needed evidence-base for vets and owners to identify and protect those dogs most at-risk. Understanding which dogs are most at risk allows targeted weight control programmes in high risk dogs to either prevent or treat obesity.  Further feeding and dietary advice can be found HERE.    Click on the link below to read the full VetCompass study.

March 2021:  Kennel Club Genetics Centre Re-opening As Part of Cambridge University

Following the announcement in July 2020 of the closure of the Animal Health Trust, The Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre (which was based at the AHT) is to officially re-open and will be located at the University of Cambridge.

The new centre will continue to be led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh, and will resume its mission to research genetic mutations and assist in developing new DNA tests as breeding tools for some of the most common and debilitating inherited conditions in dogs. The Kennel Club and the canine genetics team will work together to ensure that the centre’s research targets conditions that have the greatest impact on the health of dogs.  

During its time at the Animal Health Trust, The Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre had a significant impact on the health of numerous breeds. Researchers at the centre developed 25 different DNA tests for canine inherited diseases that affect over 50 breeds. Over a ten year period, thanks to uptake of these tests by responsible breeders, the frequency of disease-causing genetic variants in some breeds reduced by a staggering 90%. The AHT's collection of over 40,000 canine DNA samples, along with its valuable scientific and DNA sequence data, have all been secured and transferred to the University of Cambridge for further analysis.  

DNA testing is not yet available at this centre, but they hope to offer this service in the future.  In the meantime, owners should continue to use these approved test laboratories


July 2020:  Animal Health Trust Liquidation and Closure

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:  Humeral Condylar Fractures (HCF) - Results of New Study by RVC

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 link below.

March 2020:  2019-2020 ESS Health Report

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

February 2020:  Publicaton of ESS Breed Health & Conservation Plan

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:  Changes to the Official BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme

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

Note:  Schedule B listed breeds with eye conditions ‘under investigation’.

Publication of Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) results

Change to recommended frequency of eye screening

For full details of the KC/BVA announcement, please click HERE.

September 2019:  Launch of Important New HIF/IOHC Research Project



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:  Kennel Club to Limit Automatic Assignment of 'Hereditary Clear' Status

FROM JANUARY 2022, the Kennel Club is to limit automatic assignment of 'HEREDITARY CLEAR' status to TWO generations.  STOP PRESS 06/07/2021: THIS WILL NOW COME INTO EFFECT IN JANUARY 2023.

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 have hereditary clear status 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 any parent and grandparent (in a direct line) 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:  New CombiBreed DNA Test Package Offered by The Kennel Club

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 CombiBreed™ package 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:  2018-2019 ESS Health Report

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


December 2018:  AMS Mutation Frequency Study - Results and Conclusions

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.

Results of the Study: 

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 principle, 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:  AMS DNA Test Now Available at The Animal Health Trust and Laboklin Laboratories

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:  2017-2018 ESS Health Report

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


December 2017:  Changes to Kennel Club Recording of Gonioscopy Eye Test Results

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:  New BVA Pilot Scheme for Grading Gonioscopy Eye Test Results

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.

Please note:

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 more information about Glaucoma and Goniodysgenesis, click HERE.

May 2017:  DNA Test for Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS) is Now Available in the UK

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:  New Official ESS/KC Breed Scheme for Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS)

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:  2016-2017 ESS Health Report

To read our latest ANNUAL HEALTH REPORT, click HERE.

February 2017:  New Guidance on DNA Testing for Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS)

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 the UK Health Co-ordinators at any time.


September 2016:  Gonioscopy Eye Testing - New Guidelines

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.

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.