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Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Prepared by Jocelynn Jacobs-Knoll, DVM (Oct 2000)

The PRA research unit at Cornell is still looking for blood samples from verified PRA malamutes. What is PRA? It is characterized by degeneration of the cells of the retina, leading eventually to blindness. As the name implies, the degenerative changes are progressive, but often quite gradual. It is definitely inherited and is considered a simple recessive trait. For more information go to

The primary researcher, Dr. Greg Acland, stressed the importance of a verified diagnosis before the sample can be included. This means diagnosis by CERF evaluation or by a certified vet. ophthalmologist. There are other conditions or injuries that can look like PRA. Few clinic vets are qualified to make this judgment. If you think you might have a candidate but aren't sure, have your vet contact Dr. Acland for more precise information.

This research also involves other northern breeds, and is supported by CHF Grant 1273. But it will only benefit malamutes if they can obtain enough samples from affected dogs, and that is something money can't buy. If you know of a PRA dog, that blood sample might be the one contribution that makes this project a success.

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