Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (C.L.) in the Border Collie is a rare disease which affects the nerve cells of the body. It is also known as Storage Disease.
It is an inherited disease. It is not contagious.
Recent DNA research (November 1995) has identified the gene for the identical disease which occurs in humans, and is known as Batten's Disease. Once this gene is identified in Border Collies, we will be able to eliminate the disease from the breed in one or two generations.
In Australia the first known case of Ceroid Lipofuscinosis in Border Collies was found in 1980. Since then until April 1996, 27 cases diagnosed from 15 litters have been notified.
The Border Collie Club of NSW Inc. has established a sub-committee to investigate the incidence of the disease in the breed. Notified cases are recorded and information is shared with sister Border Collie clubs.
The names of proven identified carriers and their pedigrees have been published (with permission from the owners of the animals) to improve the knowledge of inheritance.
C.L. has been found overseas in other breeds of dogs (Salukis, English Setters, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds), in Devon Cattle and South Hampshire Sheep and in Siamese Cats. Affected Chihuahuas have been found in Australia.
Donations from the Club are made to a DNA research programme at the University of NSW, with the aim of identifying the defective gene responsible for the disease.
The Veterinary Clinical Centre at the University of Melbourne has also been engaged in research.
Affected dogs do not display any signs until aged approx. 15 to 18 months and owners of animals with suspect symptoms are asked to contact the Club.
The likelihood of a Border Collie developing the disease is very small whatever its ancestry and carrier dogs are not themselves affected in any way. They can be kept as non-breeding pets as in other aspects they are normal healthy animals.
The occurrence of C.L. in Border Collies is not the fault of any one person or group. The carrier gene was probably present in a dog imported at a time when the disease had not been diagnosed. For many years the disease lay dormant or occurred sporadically & has surfaced now as a breed problem which we must try to control.
Affected animals appear normal until aged approximately 18 months. However, from the embryonic stage, there is a metabolic defect which allows a waste product 'ceroid lipofuscin' to accumulate in body cells.
The brain cells have very little room for waste products and symptoms emerge when an accumulation of waste begins to compress and destroy healthy brain cells. As a result, by 18 months of age some or all of the following signs may be noted:
The disease progresses rapidly once
the initial signs appear and the distressed animals have not been
kept past the age of 2 1/2 years. Unfortunately there
is no treatment for an affected animal.
To date there is no test available
to identify which dogs have inherited the disease or are carriers
of the defective gene. Suspected cases can be confirmed by brain
biopsy. A post mortem examination will give an accurate diagnosis.
Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is one of a group of Metabolic Storage Diseases. It is characterised by the accumulation of ceroid lipofuscin, a wax-like liquid waste product of cell metabolism which is normally removed by body enzymes. In cases of C.L. one of the enzymes is missing.
Current research has determined that C.L. has an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, ie:
Guidelines are being set for breeders to avoid using PROVEN carrier animals except for research.
Suspected Cases can be referred to:
University of Melbourne,
School of Veterinary Science,
Phone (03) 741 3500.
Updated information is published in the Club Newsletters to assist members and to maintain awareness of research developments.
Financial support is essential to the research program and breeders are asked to make donations to the Fighting Fund from sales or from stud fees.
Early this century, F.E. Batten studied and described the disease in children, hence the name Battens Disease. This is the same disease now being diagnosed in dogs and known as Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. It is hoped research being conducted on the disease in dogs will benefit the children suffering from Battens Disease. As in dogs, there is no cure and no treatment yet available. The life span of children with Battens Disease is approximately 7 years.
In June 1980, a 17 month old Border Collie bitch was referred to the University of Melbourne suffering from 'fits' and 'sight disturbance'. In December that year another dog, a 19 month old male was also studied. After enquiries were made at the Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, it was suggested that the dog was affected by Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. The dog was put down and the first case re-opened and compared. It was considered that the two animals suffered from the same condition.
Cases from 3 separate litters were diagnosed in 1985/86 and others were discovered in 87/88. Since then 6 other litters have been found to have affected animals, in all (from 1980 to 1996) a total of 15 litters are diagnosed as having produced C.L.
The Border Collie Club of Victoria published in 1989 a series of articles and in March 1989, Dr. R. Mitten delivered a lecture at the club which drew a large audience. A sub-committee was then elected to deal with all aspects of C.L. in Victorian Border Collies.
The Border Collie Club of NSW Inc. has also formed a sub-committee which acts in conjunction with the Victorian Club to verify disease related information. All Border Collie Clubs in Australia liaise to share information. Newsletters carry articles concerning C.L. and pedigrees of PROVEN carriers have been published with permission from the owners of affected animals. (See the Bordertales Supplement issued March 1994.)
Ch Bundaliere Jazz Amatazz C.D
Ch Byrnbala Rhyl Solette
Ch Crestvale Gay Roger C.D.X.
Ch Finestyle Sundancer
Ch Gotrah Lancelot Lad CDX
Ch Kennoway Bill Bailey
Ch Margian Skipper Too
Milangimbi Bronzed Gizmo
Rosebrook Shar Moss
Tullaview Sono Spade
A/NZ C h Tullaview Trailblazer
Ch Werlak Beau Jade
Blackbeck Black Mystic
Crestvale Bonnie Lass C.D.
Ch Crestvale Gay Serena
Finestyle Fancy Free
Jenlehton Kirrie Bay
Kelsey Lady in Blue
Kennoway Our Wee Maggie
Liric Opal Jayde
Marglo Blue Rhapsody
Monsalvat Amazing Grace
Rantara Shantelle Lace
Ch Tullacrest Town Tart
Ch Tullaview Temptress
Genetically the dog/bitch falls into one of three categories:
CLEAR: Has not inherited a defective gene.
CARRIER: Has inherited the defective gene from a parent.
AFFECTED: Has inherited the defective gene from both parents and has or will develop the disease.
Important points to remember are:
The Border Collie Club of NSW
Inc gratefully acknowledges the Border Collie Club of Victoria
for the initial information used in this brochure. Information
is current as of August 1996.
Further information.can be provided by the Border Collie Club of NSW, Inc Sub-committee.
Sub-committee members are:
Karen Galbraith 02 9607 6364
Judy de Jong 02 9876 3926
Bettie Miller 02 9804 7602
Gail Van Look 02 9823 2462
Email: Judy de Jong at
You may freely use this article exactly as it appears here and in its entirety. It may be distributed widely without permission of the original authors. However, modification or use of portions of this article must be done so only with the express permission of Judy de Jong or The Border Collie Club of NSW, Inc.