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By access to epidemiological data from Kennel Clubs and Pet insurance companies it is becoming quite evident that breed - specific accumulation of detrimental genes goes not only for single gene diseases. Likewise, and probably to an even greater extent, also multifactorial ones, previously unknown to exhibit significant genetic components, do segregate within breeds.
Since the revealing of the canine genome molecular genetic testing for numerous diseases has been developed (7). Well organized registries on results from gene tests as well as screening programmes, based
on phenotype and openly accessible to the public, are important tools, which cynological organisations and the veterinary profession should share the responsibility for.
Selection for size, color and shape has unfortunately also encouraged recognition of exaggerated features, fixed as breed characteristics. Breed standards formulated in the past and judges at dog-shows did support this fashion unaware of negative consequences for health and well- being. Creation of new breeds and reestablishment of old, almost extinct breeds, from just a few founders has happened repeatedly over the last century. That has resulted in too small and “regulatory isolated populations” in which detrimental genes may be accumulated and then propagated by inbreeding and too widely used sires. Exaggerated features and the accumulation and propagation of detrimental genes - have been brought to attention by vets and geneticists quite recently from an evolutionary perspective. Unfortunately it takes a much longer time and greater efforts to repair it.
In 1967 at the world congress organized by WSAVA
in Paris a detailed presentation was given on breed standards that encouraged exaggerated anatomical features. [8] Since then work within FCI as well as the US and UK kennel club have resulted in changes in breed standards for several breeds.
It is quite evident that breeders and vets as well as kennel clubs and the veterinary profession do share a responsibility for canine genetic health. Further formal cooperation between the veterinary profession and cynological organizations on national and international basis have great advantages and organizations as WSAVA, FECAVA and FCI are suitable as international leader in that process.(9)
An Urban Experience
GENERAL MEASURES Besides efforts to control spread of detrimental genes currently known of, there is an urgent need for measures to prevent the history from being repeated. As long as dogs are bred in too small and genetically isolated populations, new problems will occur and easily propagate. Breeding “purebred” dogs in the future relies on measures to counteract wisely the isolation in too small populations of breeds and their varieties. Rare breeds that are, from an evolutionary perspective, varieties, would probably benefit from less rigorous regulatory barriers.
To prevent from their further propagation and new ones to be emerging there are a number changes in breeding of PGD - summarized in the following - that could and should be instituted.
Do not breed PGD in too small populations
That is achieved by
1. a) counteracting division of exiting breeds in varieties
2. b) counteracting the establishment of new breeds with insufficient
numbers and unrelatedness
Do not breed PGD with exaggerated anatomical features
That is achieved by
1. a) making sure that existing and new breed standards do not contain wording that can be interpreted in a way that it promotes exaggerated anatomical features.
2. b) information and education of judges and breeders about the increased risk by exaggerations and how to reward and select
breeding stock with less exaggerated features.
1. Stockard C.R., Andersson O.D., James W.T. The genetic and endocrine basis for differences in form and behavior, as elucidated by studies of contrasted pure- line dog breeds and their hybrids. The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, 1941, PA, Pennsylvania
2. Bellumori TP, Famula TR, Bannasch DL, Belanger JM, Oberbauer AM Prevalence of inherited disorders among mixed-breed and purebred dogs: 27,254 cases (1995-2010). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Jun 1; 242(11):1549-55
3. Asher L, Diesel G, Summers JF, McGreevy PD, Collins LM. (2009) Inherited defects in pedigree dogs. Part 1: Vet J.; 2009
4. Summers JF, Diesel G, Asher L, McGreevy PD, Collins LM. (2010) Inherited defects in pedigree dogs. Part 2: disorders that are not related to breed standards. Vet J.; 183(1):39–4
5. Henricson B and Olsson S-E Hereditary acetabular dysplasia in German shepherd dogs.
Am Vet Med Assoc.1959; 135(4):207-10
6. Hedhammar, Å. Cynology and small Animal Veterinary Medicine. Actions by FCI and WSAVA to promote canine genetic health. The FECAVA Symposium 2004 European Journal of Companion Animal Practice 2005; 15: 22–25.
7. Karlsson, E.K., Baranowska, I., Wade, C.M., Salmon Hillbertz, N.H.C., Zody, M.C., Anderson, N., Biagi, T.M., Patterson, N., Pielberg, G.R., Kulbokas, E.J., Comstock, K.E., Keller, E.T., Mesirov, J.P., von Euler, H., Kämpe, O., Hedhammar, Å., Lander, E.S., Andersson, G., Andersson, L., Lindblad-Toh, K. Efficient mapping of Mendelian traits in dogs through genome-wide association. Nature Genetics; 2007 39: 1321–1328.
8. Anonymus Report of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Committee appointed to consider breed standards in relation to the health and welfare of dogs. J Small Anim. Pract, 1969 Mar, 10(3): 135-41.
9. Hedhammar ÅA, Malm S, Bonnett B (2011) International and collaborative strategies to enhance genetic health in purebred dogs. Vet J.; 2011 189(2):189-96

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