Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pup may have vision problem

Princeton likes to grin from his right side

Princeton’s vision may be significantly worse in his left eye. Our Great Dane pup tends to cock his head at look sideways at you. I’ve always thought it was cute how he gives a three-quarter view of his face and gazes slyly out of one eye.

However, some people complained that he seems distracted or even blind. I improvised some vision tests and he always passed, except that he doesn’t have much depth perception.

I kept focusing on how Princeton’s eyes look different. His left eye is blue-green and surrounded by white fur, while his right eye is darker with black and grey fur around it. Finally it hit me. His eyes don’t just look different, they might work differently, too.

Sure enough, when I paid attention, it was obvious that he ALWAYS looks with his head turned with his brown eye forward. Both eyes respond to bright light, but I finally realized that maybe he can’t see as well in his light-colored eye, the one with the white fur around it. Merles are known for such genetic defects. Click here for an excellent summary of merle Dane genetics and related vision problems.

I’m going to ask the vet and the breeder about it. He gets around just fine, but it does explain some of his quirks. For example, he’s run into me or my partner a few times when he was galloping at top speed. Maybe he misjudged where we were?

This also explains why he keeps wanting to “heel” on the wrong side -- so he can have his good eye on the outside to watch for danger. He keeps wanting to move from my left side to my right side. It’s not just him being naughty, either. He does it when he’s on his best behavior, and he doesn’t pull or act up when he does it. I think he wants to have his “good eye” on the outside to see what’s happening. I’m going to try modifying his leash training with this in mind.

Princeton has never been able to catch something that’s thrown to him, unless it’s huge. My old Dane mix used to love catching apple peels, but toss one to Princeton and it just hits his snout every time. This may just be a Dane thing. I had another Dane lover test her 5-month-old puppy, and he couldn’t catch treats, either.

Interestingly, my favorite baby photo of Princeton from the breeder is one where he is looking out sideways out of his good eye with a mischievous expression at age two weeks. It’s still my screen saver. I post it below.

That photo is one reason that we chose to adopt Princeton. I thought that any puppy with that cute sideways mischievous look must be a lot of fun and have a special outlook on life. And it’s true.

Princeton already had his classic sideways glance at 2 weeks old
(photo courtesy of Shabrea Great Danes)


Denn said...

Well, you certainly have made a good case. What an interesting post.

Mindy Lu said...

PAW! Dude, you are a cute little guy! Cant wait to watch you get even bigger! PAW- Max the Dude!

Michalea said...

I've not noticed that on Merlin. He has one brown eye, and one eye that's half-blue/half-brown. Maybe the half-brown helps him out. I do love the Princeton pix.

Emma said...

While yes, Merlin does do the sideways glance, Reese, who's eyes are both blue doesn't seem to have any problems...but then again, Reese isn't exactly the brightest bulb in the tanning bed.

KC said...

Thanks for all the comments! When I discussed this with Princeton's breeder, she said that she wondered about his one eye back when he was a young puppy.

She said that genetic vision problems like this "can happen when breeding Harls together." (Princeton's parents made their high-risk Harl-on-Harl love match on their own, not authorized or planned mating by the breeder.)

Anonymous said...

Hi, your blog is really interesting cause my great dane Shannon is one and I'm beginning to think she has eye problems. Sometimes she acts like she doesn't know how I am or my dad especially if you don't talk to her. At first we (dad) thought she just wasn't that bright. Im thinking of taking her to the vet though. Its hard to say cause her eyes don't look bad on the outside. I thought you made an interesting post, and have lost of fun with your great dane :)