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Optimisation of breeding strategies to reduce the prevalence of inherited disease in pedigree dogs

By T. W. Lewis, J. A. Woolliams, S. C. Blott

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One option for improving the welfare of purebred dog breeds is to implement health breeding programmes, which allow selection to be directed against known diseases while controlling the rate of inbreeding to a minimal level in order to maintain the long-term health of the breed. The aim of this study is to evaluate the predicted impact of selection against disease in two breeds: the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (CKCS) and the Labrador Retriever. Heritabilities for mitral valve disease, syringomyelia in the CKCS and hip dysplasia in the Labrador were estimated to be 0.64 (+or-0.07), 0.32 (+or-0.125) and 0.35 (+or-0.016), respectively, which suggest encouraging selection responses are feasible based upon the estimation of breeding values (EBVs) if monitoring schemes are maintained for these breeds. Although using data from disease databases can introduce problems due to bias, as a result of individuals and families with disease usually being over-represented, the data presented is a step forward in providing information on risk. EBVs will allow breeders to distinguish between potential parents of high and low risk, after removing the influence of life history events. Analysis of current population structure, including numbers of dogs used for breeding, average kinship and average inbreeding provides a basis from which to compare breeding strategies. Predictions can then be made about the number of generations it will take to eradicate disease, the number of affected individuals that will be born during the course of selective breeding and the benefits that can be obtained by using optimisation to constrain inbreeding to a pre-defined sustainable rate.

Date 2010
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 19
Issue Supplement
Pages 93-98
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7UU, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. animal breed
  3. Animal diseases
  4. Animal genetics
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Breeding
  8. Breeding programs
  9. data
  10. Dog Breeds
  11. Dogs
  12. Estimation
  13. Family
  14. Health
  15. Hereditary diseases
  16. Hip dysplasia
  17. Hips
  18. Inbreeding
  19. Incidence
  20. Information
  21. Inheritance
  22. Life experiences
  23. Mammals
  24. Methodologies
  25. monitoring
  26. parents
  27. peer-reviewed
  28. Pets and companion animals
  29. Population
  30. responses
  31. Selection
  32. surveillance
  33. Techniques
  1. peer-reviewed