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Hybrid vigour in dogs?

By F. W. Nicholas, E. R. Arnott, P. D. McGreevy

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Abstract

Evidence from other species justifies the hypotheses that useful hybrid vigour occurs in dogs and that it can be exploited for improved health, welfare and fitness for purpose. Unfortunately, most of the relevant published canine studies do not provide estimates of actual hybrid vigour because of inadequate specification of the parentage of mixed-bred dogs. To our knowledge, only three published studies have shed any light on actual hybrid vigour in dogs. There are two reports of actual hybrid vigour between Labrador and Golden retrievers, the first ranging from +2.5% to −6.0% for components of a standardised applied-stimulus behavioural test, and the second being at least +12.4% for chance of graduating as a guide dog. The third study provides a minimum estimate of negative actual hybrid vigour: crossbreds between Labrador retrievers and poodles had a higher prevalence of multifocal retinal dysplasia than the average prevalence in their purebred parent breeds. The lack of estimates of actual hybrid vigour can be overcome by including the exact nature of the cross (e.g. F1, F2 or backcross) and their purebred parental breeds in the specification of mixed-bred dogs. Even if only F1 crossbreds can be categorised, this change would enable researchers to conduct substantial investigations to determine whether hybrid vigour has any utility for dog breeding.

Date 2016
Publication Title Veterinary Journal
Volume 214
Pages 77-83
ISBN/ISSN 1090-0233
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.tvjl.2016.05.013
Language English
Additional Language English
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  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal welfare