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Breeding for quality of life

By P. D. McGreevy

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Many breeds of companion animal have inherited disorders that may impair quality of life (QoL) to the extent that it is unkind to keep them alive. If we struggle to discern when this point is reached, why do we breed compromised, short-lived animals in the first place? If we struggle to judge when environmental conditions cause an unacceptable QoL, why not breed appropriately for modern environments? In breeding pedigree dogs, five major problems arise: (1) some breed standards and selection practices run counter to dog welfare; (2) insufficient selection pressure seems to be exerted on some traits that would improve animal well-being and produce dogs better suited to modern environments; (3) the incidence of certain inherited defects in some breeds is unacceptably high; (4) the dearth of registered animals of certain breeds in particular countries makes it extremely difficult for breeders to avoid mating close relatives; and (5) there may be financial disincentives for veterinarians to reduce the incidence of inherited diseases. Before we can judge when behavioural or morphological changes caused by selective breeding result in an unacceptable QoL, we have to know which are prevalent. This paper reviews progress in two Australian schemes to monitor trends in the prevalence of inherited disorders in dogs and to promote behavioural phenotypes likely to cope with contemporary domestic environments.

Date 2007
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 16
Issue Supplement
Pages 125-128
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Faculty of Veterinary Science (B19), University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal anatomy
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Animal genetics
  4. Animal reproduction
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. APEC countries
  8. Australasia
  9. Australia
  10. Breeding
  11. Commonwealth of Nations
  12. Defects
  13. Developed countries
  14. Dogs
  15. Environment
  16. Epidemiology
  17. Health
  18. Hereditary diseases
  19. Incidence
  20. Inheritance
  21. Mammals
  22. Mating
  23. morphology
  24. Oceania
  25. OECD countries
  26. Pets and companion animals
  27. phenotypes
  28. Quality of life
  29. Reviews
  30. Selection
  31. standards
  32. temperament
  33. traits
  34. Veterinarians
  35. Veterinary surgery