Sigridur Pétursdóttir (fra Olafsvöllum) wurde am 01.01.2008 auf Island für ihre Verdienste um den Islandhund mit der Ehrenmedaille geehrt.

Nachruf Dr. Per-Erik Sundgren hier

Date: February 1, 2012


To:       Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America (ISAA) Members

            Icelandic Sheepdog International Cooperation (ISIC) Partner Clubs


From: ISAA Board of Directors


Current Project Liaison: Donna R.


Re: Icelandic Sheepdog Hereditary Cataract Study and Progress Report


Funding: Kennel Club Charitable Trust $393,000 from 1/3/06 through 1/3/09



The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is a veterinary charity that fights disease and injury in animals around the world. Through the efforts of a dedicated ISAA member, we were selected to participate in the Hereditary Cataract Study, a project that aims to identify genetic variants that contribute to the risk of developing Hereditary Cataract (HC). In fact, AHT has been successful in identifying genetic factors in several breeds.


AHT has made significant progress in the study of HC in the Icelandic Sheepdog (ISD). They have come to believe that ISDs affected with HC are dogs with posterior polar cataracts (sometimes described as subcapsular and occasionally described as cortical). They believe that other forms of cataracts are not typical of HC in our breed. They hope that through the information they discover during the course of this research, they will be able to develop DNA-based tools that breeders can use to try and lower the incidence of HC.

At this time, AHT believes that we need to collect and submit additional DNA (cheek swab) samples from two groups of ISDs to complete their research.

1.     Older, unaffected dogs over six years of age

2.     Dogs affected with HC.

To accomplish this goal, we are again asking for help from all who know and love the ISD around the world. We are hoping that you have one of these dogs and can participate in this important study. Additionally, if you have participated with an unaffected dog in the past who has now reached six (6) years of age and is free of HC, please help by submitting any eye test you have obtained after the dog reached six (6) years of age. Please contact our project liaison at the email listed above.

Finally, since our grant has expired, we are collecting donations from all ISAA members and members of our ISIC partner clubs around the world to assist in the continuation of this study. Please send checks to: ISAA c/o Judi Vittetoe, 24417 E. Rosewood, Newman Lake, WA 99025, USA. Please put “HC Study” in the notation section of the check. You may also send your payment via PayPal (please include a $2 transaction fee) to (address your payment to


Continued Funding: We are extremely grateful for the initial grant, which got us started. However, it currently costs between $200 -$300 to analyze the DNA from a single ISD. Whole Genome Scans (WGS) are expensive and, since the initial grant has expired, the Animal Health Trust relies on donations from breed clubs and individuals to fund the laboratory expenses.

We believe the follow-up WGS that we hope to facilitate, if we can collect enough samples from additional cases and controls, will cost $6300 - $9500.

Therefore, the ISAA is collecting donations from members of all ISIC partner clubs which includes ISAA members to assist in the continuation of this study.  Please refer to the Executive Summary for information on how to contribute.

Sample Collection: The total number of samples from Icelandic Sheepdogs held at the AHT now stands at 194, which is a great start. Of these, 24 samples are from dogs with some sort of opacity in at least one eye. A number of these, however, were noted by the examining ophthalmologist to be senile cataracts or nuclear sclerosis (a normal ageing change) rather than inherited cataracts. There are samples from eleven (11) dogs that they believe are probably suffering from inherited cataracts.  This number is a good start, and although DNA analysis has started, we have just learned that AHT will need samples from more affected ISDs before they can expect to make significant progress. The more samples they have, the quicker they can expect to make useful progress towards identifying the genetic mutation(s) responsible for HC in the ISD. They would like to have samples from 24 affected dogs, which means we would need samples from an additional 13 dogs.

Since the 2010 progress report, we have submitted six additional samples, two of which are from dogs affected by cataracts and one from an unaffected control over the age of six years old. Therefore, AHT has samples from 81 ISDs that have been declared free of cataracts at their last eye examination, although the majority of these dogs are fairly young. They presently have DNA samples from 23 dogs that were over the age of six years at their last eye examination although they would like to see samples from a total of 48 dogs over the age of six. 

These clear dogs are important for the study as they act as controls. Therefore, having dogs who are clear who are at least six years of age ensures that the dogs are truly clear rather than dogs that are genetically affected but that haven’t developed their cataracts yet due to their youth. Therefore, AHT critically needs samples from clear dogs that are as old as possible.We encourage owners of older ISDs to consider getting an eye test (CERF in the USA) on that dog and donating a sample from their ISD – the older the dog was when it was examined the better. 

DNA Analysis: A Whole Genome Scan (WGS) was undertaken using the DNA from 26 ISDs, at least nine of which are almost certainly suffering from hereditary cataracts (possibly 11) and 17 dogs that were clear of cataracts at their last eye examination.  A WGS compares the DNA from affected ISDs (cases) with the DNA from unaffected dogs (controls) at around 170,000 different positions in the genome, in an attempt to find regions that are consistently similar in all the cases and different in the controls.  Any such regions are very likely to contain mutations associated with the development of HC. Once they have identified an HC–associated region of the genome, additional experiments will be necessary to pinpoint the precise causal mutation, but finding an associated region is a very important initial step on the way to the development of a DNA test.

As described above, the number of samples we currently have available from ISDs is still  low, and therefore, the initial WGS failed to identify any region of the canine genome that is associated with the development of HC in our breed. Nevertheless, the data generated to date has not been wasted.  It will serve as the basis for further study once we have collected samples from additional dogs affected with HC, and additional older controls.  At that time, we will repeat the WGS, merge the data with that from the first WGS and re-analze the merged dataset to identify regions of the DNA that contain the responsible mutations.

This further WGS will be undertaken when we have collected samples from at least 13 additional HC-affected dogs, to bring the total number of cases in the analysis to 24.    ISDs with senile cataracts or with nuclear sclerosis will not be included in the study. We are also reluctant to include dogs with other forms of cataract (anterior cataracts for example) as these are not typical of HC in this breed. 

Follow Up Information: We always welcome updated health information about any ISDs that have donated DNA to the study, even if it’s to let us know the ISD is still healthy. In particular, if your ISD has additional eye examinations after their DNA has been submitted it is very helpful for us to hear the results, regardless of the findings. In particular we need to know about older dogs whose eyes are still clear. Please feel free to get in touch with Donna McDermott ( with updated health information.

Additional Information:

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank all ISD owners worldwide who have submitted samples and information from their ISDs. Without either of these we would be unable to make any progress with this project. Thank you, Laurie Ball-Gisch (ISAA) for researching and obtaining the original grant. Finally, we would like to thank Þorsteinn Thorsteinson (Deild Íslenska Fjárhundsins -DÍF) , Else Westermann (Danish Icelandic Sheepdog Club - Islandsk Fårehundeklub), Susanne Schütte (German Icelandic Sheepdog Club - Islandhunde im DCNH e.V),  Pia Stämpfli (Swiss Icelandic Sheepdog - Islandhundeclub Schweiz), Ami Rooth (Swedish Icelandic Sheepdog Club - Svenska Isländsk Fårhund Klubben), Terry Warnock, Donna McDermott & Laurie Ball-Gisch (Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America – ISAA) for organizing the distribution of DNA kits.


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