The carrier status of more than 11,000 dogs worldwide has been established thanks to tests developed by the Kennel Club Genetics Centre since its establishment at the Animal Health Trust in March 2009.
The carrier status of more than 11,000 dogs worldwide has been established thanks to tests developed by the Kennel Club Genetics Centre (KCGC) since its establishment at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in March 2009.
This is just one of the figures highlighted within the mid-term report issued by the KCGC, which looks at the “significant progress” made by the centre.
Since 2009 the KCGC has focused on helping dog breeders to reduce or eradicate inherited disease from their breeds. This has been achieved through the development and provision of essential tools which minimise the risk of breeding affected puppies.
Cathryn Mellersh, head of canine genetics at the AHT, said: “The creation of the KCGC has been a huge step forward into inherited disease research in dogs. The centre has helped to focus attention on this important area and, without the support of the Kennel Club and all the various breed clubs and individual breeders, we wouldn’t have made so much progress.”
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has committed £1.2 million to the genetics centre to investigate the mutations responsible for inherited diseases. So far, 5 different mutations associated with diseases in 20 breeds of dog have been identified.
For all of these mutations, DNA tests have been developed at the AHT. Breeders are now able to find out whether their dog is clear or carries the mutation by supplying DNA to the AHT genetic services laboratory through a simple cheek swab. Thanks to the development of these tests the carrier status of more than 11,000 dogs, in the UK and across the world, has been established.
Kennel Club communications director Caroline Kisko said: “The funding given by the charitable trust is also helping scientists at the genetics centre to conduct research into developing wider breeding strategies to improve the general health of dogs and maintain genetic diversity in our pedigree breeds.”
The development of estimated breeding values (EBVs) enables whole dog populations to be evaluated for the risk of inherited disease – even if individuals have not been scanned or DNA tested themselves. EBV projects are currently underway to look at hip and elbow dysplasia in Labrador retrievers and syringomyelia and mitral valve disease in cavalier King Charles spaniels.
Maintenance of genetic diversity is another important issue being addressed by the centre, one which lies at the heart of the recently launched Mate Select service.
The KCGC set out to investigate a number of inherited diseases between 2009 and 2013. It is currently investigating the genetics of a wide range of inherited conditions, including idiopathic epilepsy in border collies and hereditary cataract and progressive retinal atrophy in many breeds, including Siberian huskies, miniature schnauzers and Tibetan spaniels.
- For further information on the progress of the KCGC you can download the mid-term report here.