The Kennel Club has marked five years of its Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) by promising to fund five more years of research.

Created to combine the resources and expertise of The Kennel Club and the AHT, the centre celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2014.

Professor Steve Dean, chairman of The Kennel Club, said: “We are committed to helping dog breeders address inherited diseases and, by working with the AHT, we have, together, created a centre of excellence, which in just five years has already helped to significantly improve the health and welfare of a number of pedigree breeds.

“The Kennel Club invests a significant part of its income towards improving dog health and welfare.

“Historically, we have information on our registration system about millions of pedigree dogs, which we use to further knowledge of dog diseases and how to prevent them. By working in partnership with the AHT, we have been able to provide a number of practical resources and expertise to aid dog breeders in their ambition to reduce or eradicate inherited diseases.”

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust invested £1.2 million into the centre when it opened in 2009. Since then, and led by Dr Cathryn Mellersh and Dr Sarah Blott of the AHT, the centre has:

  • collected and stored DNA samples from 11,000 dogs from 170 different breed
  • undertaken genome-wide association studies using DNA samples from 1,461 dogs of 25 different breeds
  • identified 10 unique mutations responsible for inherited disorders known to affect 29 different breeds, and
  • developed DNA tests which have been used to test more than 38,000 dogs through the AHT’s DNA testing facility

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of canine genetics at the AHT, said: “The creation of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre has enabled us to take huge steps forward in our mutation detection work. This is assisting dog breeders in their breeding decisions and, most importantly, minimising the risk of breeding affected puppies.
“The work we are doing within the centre is making a significant difference for thousands of dogs.”

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