Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a family of inherited progressive degenerative eye diseases affecting the retina which ultimately result in blindness. Typically the first symptom of PRA is night blindness followed by increased reflectivity of the fundus or a "green sheen" to the eyes when viewed in dim light. 

There are several recognized forms of PRA and Mastiffs now have a DNA gene test available to them! The PRA DNA tests enable breeders to send in a blood sample and determine whether or not a dog has PRA or is clear (does not have the gene mutation for PRA) before the dog is old enough to develop symptoms. This also allows breeders to plan their breedings to avoid producing any pups that will be affected by PRA.  To see a list of PRA tests for other breeds go to OptiGenís Test Page.

MCOA PRA Committee DNA Testing Recommendations

It is the recommendation of the MCOA PRA Committee that prior to breeding both the sire and dam is proven free of the dominant Mastiff PRA gene mutation either by DNA test  or by having both parents proven free of the gene.
For example, a Mastiff is proven clear of the PRA gene if:

         both parents are DNA tested clear

  • or, both of the sire's parents are DNA tested clear and the dam is DNA tested clear

  • or, both of the dam's parents are DNA tested clear and the sire is DNA tested clear

  • or, all four grandparents are DNA tested clear


Please Only PRA & CMR DNA Test Your Mastiff with OptiGen

Over the past couple of years there have been other companies that have started advertising to use their Canine DNA tests at a reduced price.  Although the idea of saving money may be tempting, the MCOA Health Committee recommends that we continue to do our Mastiffís DNA testing through OptiGen for several reasons.  

  • OptiGen has a clear track record of over 8 years of commitment to the highest quality service and have a proven record that gives owners the best assurance of accuracy along with prompt turnaround in genetic testing with excellent customer service.
  • OptiGen is absolutely committed to the science and understanding of the diseases detected by the tests that it offers. OptiGen works closely with the veterinary community to provide clients with the best possible information, education and genetic counseling on these diseases. Most of OptiGen's tests were developed by scientists associated with OptiGen and are based on years of academic investigation into the disease being tested.  This is reflected in a complete understanding of what controls and descriptions are necessary to provide absolutely accurate information in the test report.
  • The scientists that work with OptiGen discovered the gene mutations that cause Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy in Mastiffs and they continue their investment in research to find new mutations and develop new DNA tests that will continue to provide breeders with the advantage of reliable, meaningful genetic information on their dogs. 
  • OptiGen has a close working relationship with the Mastiff Club of Americaís Health Committee and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and we recognize OptiGen's intellectual property rights.  OptiGen also sends quarterly reports to OFA and the data is shared publicly to help our breed club and researchers stay informed of PRA and CMR statistics.


PRA DNA Test Clinics

Would your club be interested in holding a Mastiff PRA DNA Testing Clinic? If you are, please contact OptiGen and they will help you organize a clinic to receive a group discount.  For information on upcoming OptiGen Discounted Testing Clinics go to OptiGenís website and click on Clinic Schedule.

Before you host a clinic please contact OptiGen directly and go to their website for more information.  Here is a list of some of the information, but make sure you check with OptiGen first for approval to offer the discounted rates at your clinic and to verify the addresses and instructions are current.

DNA Test By Submitting A Blood Or Semen Sample

Blood is the gold standard for genetic research submissions and although OptiGen will accept cheek swabs for DNA testing they prefer to that we submit blood samples.  The blood is much better for quality control purposes as it yields more DNA and it can be used with current state of the art technology.  DNA from blood is also less likely to be compromised from cross contamination.

OptiGen can extract a lot more DNA from a blood sample and they can offer long-term storage to their clients to use at a later date for research or as new DNA tests become available.  OptiGen also can archive a portion of the DNA submitted from blood samples for quality control purposes in case they need to go back and re-test a sample.  Semen will also yield more DNA than cheek swabs.

Cheek swabs cost less and are more convenient, but the amount of DNA extracted from them is limited and there is a higher risk of contaminationÖ  You can read more on the Concerns and Caveats of using cheek swabs on OptiGenís website.

So remember BLOOD IS BETTER for DNA testing and research!



Click Here To Read The History Behind The PRA Study and the Dominant    PRA DNA Test for Mastiffs!


Click Here For Links About Other Eye Problems In Mastiffs


Click Here To Read About Verification Of PRA DNA Testing


Click Here To Read The CERF Eye Exam Testing Recommendations


Click Here : Research Samples Needed For PRA & Cataracts!


Click Here: A Little Help From Our Friends- Mastiffs Who Participated In The PRA DNA Study Who Were Certified Clear Of PRA


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NOTE: This information is provided by the Mastiff Club of America only as a guide to help the public to become informed about their Mastiff's health. Please seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian when making any health related decisions for your Mastiffs.