Ocular Disorders Presumed to be Inherited in Four Italian Breeds: Italian Spitz, Neapolitan Mastiff, Cane Corso and Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2005
Adolfo Guandalini, DMV, PhD, DECVO
Via Casetta Mattei
Rome, Italy

The aim of this study is to document ocular diseases that are inherited or suspected in the four aforementioned Italian breeds.

The medical records or examination forms from eye certification clinics from dogs evaluated between 1992 and 2000 were retrospectively reviewed. All the animals were examined using slit-lamp biomicroscopy, direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy, applanation tonometry and , in some selected cases, gonioscopy. Ocular lesions were considered inherited or suspected to be inherited if they were listed as such by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists / Canine Eye Registry Foundation guide. Prevalence data below is cited on the basis of number of eyes affected/number of eyes examined.

During the study period 71 Italian Spitz, 113 Neapolitan Mastiff, 81 Cane Corso and 110 Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese were evaluated. For the Italian Spitz 22.5% of eyes were normal, 21.1% were affected by ocular conditions not considered to be inherited (such as traumatic or inflammatory in origin), 56.3% had ocular disorders suspected to be inherited. Lens luxations and cataracts (mostly pulverulent) represented 84.4% of the lesions in the latter category. For the Neapolitan Mastiff 7.9% of eyes were normal, 4.4% had conditions not considered to be inherited and 87.6% had eye diseases presumed to be inherited. In this latter category disorders affecting the eyelids including ectropion, entropion or a combination of both and prolapse of the third eyelid gland represented 96.6% of the lesions documented. For the Cane Corso breed 28.4% of dogs were normal, 70.4% had lesions considered as inherited and 1.2% had lesions which were not defined. The most common lesion which was presumed to be inherited was the ectropion. For the Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese 22.7% of dogs were normal, 49.1% were affected by ocular conditions not considered to be inherited (such as traumatic or inflammatory in origin), 28.2% had ocular disorders suspected to be inherited. Cataracts represented 37.1% of the lesions in the latter category, 17.7% of the dogs had retinal diseases (progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia), 12.9% had iris lesions with a prevalence of persistent papillary membranes.

Ocular conditions which are considered inherited or presumed to have a heritable basis were common in all four of these Italian breeds.

Lens luxations were common in the Italian Spitz, adnexal lesions in the Neapolitan Mastiff and Cane Corso breeds and cataracts in the Pastore Maremmano-Abruzzese.

While many of the lesions were not vision threatening, the high prevalence of ocular lesions suggests routine eye screening and selective breeding practices are indicated for these breeds.


1.  ACVO Genetics Committee, Ocular disorders proven or suspected to be hereditary in dogs, ACVO ed., 1st ed., 1992, 201-203;

2.  Guandalini A, Oculopatie di probabile natura ereditaria in cani di razze italiane, PhD Thesis, Messina , February 2001;

3.  Rubin LF, Inherited eye diseases in purebred dogs, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1989.

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Adolfo Guandalini, DMV, Phd, DECVO

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