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Canine Eye Registration Foundation and Kerry Blue Terriers


© 2003 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

The author holds copyright for this article, with the exception of the 2002 C.E.R.F. statistics for Kerry Blue Terriers. Permission to reprint can be obtained by contacting Chris Brill-Packard via the Kerry Blue Foundation.

Copyright for the 2002 C.E.R.F. statistics for Kerry Blue Terriers is held by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation and is reproduced here with permission. It may not be further reproduced without permission from C.E.R.F.

What is C.E.R.F and how is it important to a future puppy owner, and the breeders?

Whether you are a breeder, or a pet owner or an owner who is looking to purchase a dog with specifics goals in mind (agility, obedience, field work, conformation etc); it will be important to know if the prospective dog is a healthy dog.

C.E.R.F. is a non-profit medical database company founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog's lives was being affected by heritable disease. They have contracted staff at Purdue University. C.E.R.F. does not perform any medical research.

When a dog is registered by C.E.R.F., any and all diseases found at the time of the exam are recorded. Since some eye diseases occur early in life (i.e. progressive retinal atrophy, juvenile cataract), while others are developed in later years; the following is recommended.

Dogs should be certified every year to ensure that they have not developed serious ocular disease that occur after the dogs are one or 2 years of age.

What does C.E.R.F. provide you?

A copy of the examination sheet listing the diagnoses (if any) and if you send the fee into C.E.R.F., you will receive a certificate and a number for one year. Beginning April 1, 2003 - the actual diagnosis will be printed on the certificate if any, instead of category. The same information will be posted on C.E.R.F.'s website for all dogs registered after April 1, 2003.

A yearly C.E.R.F. exam will keep the C.E.R.F. number up-to-date.

Individual dogs that are "clear" at 9 years of age are usually not going to develop any genetic eye disease after 9 years.

C.E.R.F. advises for show, obedience, performance, working and breeding dogs that they have a C.E.R.F. examination when they are:

  • less than 4 months of age.
  • another examination before they are used for breeding the first time.
  • After that, males used regularly for stud service should be examined every year until age 10.
  • Females and males being bred intermittently should be examined before they are bred each time.
  • Exam should be one month prior to breeding to decrease the possibility of missing a genetic disease that may develop during the time between exam and breeding.
  • Breeders need to check the validity of the C.E.R.F. number and check date of exam, check the date and number by visiting the OR ask to see the current C.E.R.F. certificate which shows date of examination and C.E.R.F. number.

Yearly examinations do not guarantee the dog is not a carrier of genetic ocular disease, they do ensure that within the last year, the dog was examined and no genetic ocular disease was diagnosed. If C.E.R.F. clear dogs are bred, genetic ocular disease can be significantly decreased in each successive generation and eliminated in 6 generations. C.E.R.F. has a brochure entitled "Eliminating Heritable Eye Disease in Purebred Dogs" which is available to individuals and clubs free of charge. You can call 765/494-8179 or email: for copies.

What is the process to obtain a C.E.R.F. number?

An American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) Diplomate performs a painless examination of the dogs' eyes. The AVCO Diplomate will complete the C.E.R.F. form and indicate any specific disease(s) found. Breeding advice will be offered based on guidelines established for that particular breed by the genetics committee of the ACVO. The ACVO is a separate organization from C.E.R.F. that cooperates in providing uniform standards for testing.

You will need to present your dogs' permanent identification in the form of microchip, tattoo or DNA profile for the C.E.R.F. registration along with $10.00 for the original C.E.R.F. registration. Re-certification fee is $7.50. Certification is good for 12 months from the date of the exam.

What can C.E.R.F. do for you?

Provides the following:

  • Registry of purebred dogs that have been certified free of heritable eye diseases.
  • Various membership which include C.E.R.F. newsletter, registration and research
  • Reports for up-to-date canine ophthalmology topics.
  • Reports on the prevalence of eye diseases in certain breeds, including reports generated by Veterinary Medical Data Base (VMDB) which compiles data from 24 participating veterinary colleges in the US and Canada.
  • Centralized source to answer questions for C.E.R.F. clinics, or ACVO Diplomates located near you and educational materials to learn more about ocular diseases.
  • C.E.R.F. status of a prospective mate for your dog

Table 1. The numbers of Kerry Blue Terriers (KBTs) registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and C.E.R.F. in a recent three-year period.

Year Number of KBTs Registered with AKC Number of KBTs Registered with C.E.R.F. Percent KBTs Registered with Both AKC and C.E.R.F.
2000 435 20 4.6%
2001 395 50 12.7%
2003 464 42 9.1%

In comparison to other breeds, the rate of C.E.R.F. among Kerry Blue Terriers is low. Due to the low level of exams registered, it may be difficult for your examiner to provide you the possible cause of any specific diagnosis. These numbers are for dogs examined with C.E.R.F. papers filed.Sheryl Krohne, DVM, MS, ACVO at C.E.R.F. gave the following warning regarding drawing conclusion for the last three years of data:

"Better data to look at would be larger numbers over 1991-1999 when 195
dogs were looked at. 93% of these were normal. 5% of these dogs had serious
eye problems, most of them cataracts. I think that from this, breeders of
Kerry blue terriers should be encouraged to have their dogs looked at. The
rate is reasonably low, however, most abnormal dogs seem to have some type
of cataract. It would help to have C.E.R.F. exams if you are trying to get rid
of this problem.

I hope this helps. More exams would also give us more data. It looks to me
that in the last 3 years, a larger percentage of those having exams, are
dogs that are abnormal. That inflates your affected numbers and gives very
low statistical numbers to evaluate."

What can you do to help the breed?

All future owners of a Kerry Blue need to ask for the papers for the C.E.R.F. exam as proof that it has been performed on the male and female of the prospective litter. Remember to look at the dates of the exams to ensure that the exam was just prior to the conception of the prospective litter.

As your puppy develops, consider having your dog C.E.R.F. tested and report the results to the breeder, even if you are not planning on breeding yourself, including pet owners. You will have the freedom of mind that your dog can perform daily activities safely and if there is a medical issue, you have caught it early in life. Additionally, it will increase the knowledge of eye diseases in Kerry Blue Terriers and help us protect the breed from passing on genetically caused diseases to future generations.

2002 Statistics Report for Eye Disease in KBTs provided by C.E.R.F.

The C.E.R.F. website listed the following as a possible inheritable eye disease among Kerry Blue Terriers.

Inherited Cataracts in dogs ­ Kerry Blue Terriers
Characteristics Posterior Cortical
Severity Often impairs vision
Age at onset <= 2 years of age
Inheritance Pattern No information available

Table 2. 2002 Report on Eye Disease in Kerry Blue Terriers provided by C.E.R.F. This data was obtained from KBTs submitted for C.E.R.F examination during the one-year period. Detailed explanations of the diseases listed in the table can be found at the C.E.R.F. website at

Location of Problem Disease Unilateral or Bilateral Gender # of KBTs Affected Age at Examination
(in years)
Eyelid Distichiasis Bilateral Male 1 2-3
Lens Anterior Cortex Puncture Sign. Unknown Bilateral Female 1 3-4
Male 2 8-9 and 10+
Unilateral Female 1 7-9
Male 1 9-10
Anterior Cortex Diffuse Bilateral Female 1 7-8
Anterior Cortex Punct. Bilateral Male 1 10+
Nucleus Diffuce Bilateral Female 1 3-4
Posterior Cortex Punct. Sign. Unknown Unilateral Female 1 7-8
Posterior Cortex Diffuse Bilateral Female 1 3-4
Posterior Cortex Intermediate Unilateral Male 1 3-4
Other Problems Other, non-inherited Bilateral Female 1 7-8
Unilateral Female 2 3-4
Uvea Persistent Pupillary Membranes Iris to Iris Unilateral Male 1 6-7
Vitreous Degeneration Bilateral Female 1 10+
Male 1 10+

**Please note that a dog may have more than one diagnosis.
This table lists all of the diagnosis listed on the C.E.R.F. form at time of examination.

Table 3. C.E.R.F examination results for Kerry Blue Terriers in 2002.
Gender Total Number of KBTs Tested Total Number of KBTs with Normal Test Results Percent Normal KBTs
Female 23 18 78.3%
Male 16 9 56.3%
Unknown 3 3 100%
Female + Male 42 30 71.4%

Contact Information for the Canine Eye Registration Foundation:

Mailing address:

Purdue University
CERF/Lynn Hall
625 Harrison St
West Lafayette IN 47907-2026
Phone: 765-494-8179 Fax: 765-494-9981


Allen W. Hahn, D.V.M., Ph.D. is currently President - Elect of the Veterinary Medical DataBases (VMDB) that also houses and administers the Canine Eye Research Foundation (CERF). VMDB is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under the laws of the state of Illinois since 1973 (home state of the American Veterinary Medical Association - AVMA)). The corporation is a 501 c-3 corporation and, under IRS rules, contributions to VMDB (and by implication CERF) are deductible for U.S. income tax purposes. C.E.R.F. has some brochures about what we (VMDB and CERF) do. Donations are accepted.

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