Though, as a species, Canis familiaris is not endangered, a number of breeds are in as much danger of extinction as some of their wild cousins. If different varieties of wolves are worthy of preservation, are not the different breeds of domestic dogs equally worthy?
Starting with wolves, and perhaps other related canids, man shaped the dog to his own ends. For several thousand years they have been our companions, helpers and guardians. A dog, treated with a little kindness, will be your friend for life. How do we reward them? By condemning many to a life of pain or an early death due to various inherited diseases. Do we not owe them more than this?
- Become informed
- on basic genetic principles and good breeding practice
- on the major genetic diseases in your breed
- on the attitude of your Breed Club or Association
- Support genetic research
- Spread the word about this site
- Ask the Question - Do you need a "Breed Survival Plan"?
If you would like more information, or to be placed on our mailing list, contact:Dr. John B. Armstronge-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Diversity Project
Department of Biology
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
A. Some Endangered Canids
African Wild Dog Dhole (Asiatic Wild Dog) Mexican Gray Wolf Red Wolf Maned Wolf The Ethiopian Wolf
B. Reintroduction Projects
C. Other Endangered Species
A. Selected BreedsNote: The breeds listed here should not be regarded as having more or fewer problems with genetic diversity or disease than those not listed. Those familiar with other breeds are invited to submit appropriate links.
Afghan Border Collie Doberman Golden Retriever Lhasa Apso Corgi (Pembroke) Portuguese Water Dog Poodle Saluki Tibetan KyiApso Tibetan Mastiff Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon
B. Breeding Issues
- "The Mixed Breed Dog" - a look at the pros and cons.
- "Genetics and The Border Collie" Basic genetic principles and a commentary on the creation of a breed.
- "Purebred Dog Breeds into the Twenty-First Century", by J. Jeffrey Bragg. The consequences of limited genetic diversity and closed registries, with specific reference to the Siberian Husky. [116 kb]
- "The Genetic Tide: Will it leave us high and dry?", by J. Jeffrey Bragg
- "The Value of Population Genetics to the Breeder", by John Armstrong
- "The Influence of Wycliffe on the Black Standard Poodle", by John Armstrong. How one kennel came to dominate a whole breed. [See also: "Diversity in the Standard Poodle"]
A. Articles on genetics and breeding
by Dr. John Armstrong
- "A Genetic Primer for Breeders". Topics: What traits are inherited; genes and alleles; naming genes; dominance; sex linkage; expressivity and penetrance; determining the mode of inheritance; inbreeding.
- "The Nature of Genetic Disease". The difference between true genetic diseases and genetic problems caused by "un-natural" selection.
- "Inbreeding and Diversity". Low inbreeding does not mean giving up all hope of winning championships.
- "The Argument for Assortative Mating". Inbreeding and outcrossing aren't the only choices. [see also Genetic Load]
by Dr. Catherine Marley
- "Breeding - Dogs or Pedigrees?". More on assortative mating.
- "Genetic Diversity - the Dark Side of Inbreeeding". What happens when everyone breeds to Mr. Wonderful, and what not to do when everyone discovers they have the same problem.
Other recommended reading
- "Genetic Selection". The effects of intentional and unintentional selection for and against specific traits.
- "Getting What You Want from Your Breeding Program", by Dr. Jerold Bell. A clear explanation of inbreeding coefficients and the importance of going back more than 4-5 generations in a pedigree.
B. Dealing with genetic disease
Before any effective action can be taken to reduce or eliminate a genetic disease, its mode of inheritance must be determined (i.e. Is more than one gene involved? Is it dominant or recessive?). This is usually accomplished through the analysis of the pedigrees of affected dogs.
In "Genetic Research Strategies: The Example of Canine Epilepsy", Dr. Barbara Licht and her colleagues discuss the role of breeders and owners in canine genetic research, and the importance of having data not only on affected dogs, but also on relatives and unrelated animals.
In an accompanying article, "Pedigree Analysis: Bloat in the Standard Poodle", John Armstrong illustrates the difficulties that may be encountered in working with a partial data set.
Though breeders would, understandably, prefer not to breed affected dogs, deliberate test matings are sometimes the only way to clarify ambiguous data. One of the most thorough series of test matings done for such a purpose was that of Rubin, Bourns and Lord for dayblindness in the Alaskan Malamute.
- "Day Blindness in Alaskan Malamutes" is an account written by Dr. Bourns for Dogs in Canada describing the discovery of the genetic disease and the test mating program.
- "The Bourns Test Litters for Dayblindness in Malamutes" summarizes the actual data from their 1967 paper in the American Journal of Veterinary Research.
Because of the time and expense, test matings have not generally been used for routine testing. Nevertheless, for a time, the English Kennel Club adopted a policy that allowed registration of Irish Setters only if they had produced at least six normal and no affected pups in a mating with a known PRA-affected animal (Willis, "Genetics of the Dog", p.223). This should have detected 98-99% of the carriers (Willis, p. 356) and was effective in reducing the incidence of PRA.
Now, a direct DNA test is available for PRA in Irish Setters and for a few other genetic diseases. In "Genetic Testing: A Guide for Breeders", Dr. Mary Whiteley describes the basic principles of these tests.
Though only a few such tests have been developed, research is progressing on many more. In cases where the mutant allele has reached high frequencies in the population, wholesale elimination of heterozygous carriers could have disastrous consequences for genetic diversity. For example, in the Doberman, the combined incidence of carriers and affected animals is about 80%. The article by Dr. George Brewer, "DNA Studies in Doberman von Willebrand's Disease", should be read by all.
11014 Schuylkill Rd.
Rockville, MD 20852
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) Irish Setter $35
3728 Plaza Drive Suite One
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone: (800) 483-8436; Fax: 313-669-8441
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) Irish Setter $135 von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) Doberman 135   Manchester Terrier 135   Scottish Terrier 135   Shetland Sheepdog 135 Phosphofructokinase (pfk) deficiency American Cocker Spaniel 75   English Springer Spaniel 75 Pyruvate kinase deficiency Basenji 135 Copper toxicosis* Bedlington Terrier 50
* linkage test
Diversity in the Standard Poodle (University of Ottawa)
The Dog Genome Project (University of California, Berkeley)
VetGen's Canine Research
We endorse the efforts of The Elizabeth Campbell Memorial Canine Research and Education Institute to promote the health, welfare and future of purebred dogs through research and education.
The Institute's objectives include:
Contributions can be sent to:
The Elizabeth Campbell Institute
P.O. Box 336, Bonita CA 91908, USA
Donations are tax deductible.
|assort2.html||Are we breeding pedigrees instead of dogs? (Marley)||7.1|
|bart.html||Wycliffe history - pedigree of Executive and Command Performance||10|
|bourns.html||Bourns' test litters for dayblindness in the Malamute||5.7|
|bragg.html||Jeffrey Bragg's article on the problems with dog breeding||119|
|central.html||Wycliffe history - central line||22|
|dassin.html||Wycliffe history - the Dassin kennel||5.2|
|dnatest.html||A guide to genetic testing (Whiteley)||10|
|epilepsy.html||The Poodle Epilepsy Project (Licht, Licht & Harper)||17|
|extend.html||Wycliffe history - related kennels in the Northwest||11|
|gendis.html||The nature of genetic disease||10|
|inbreed.html||How to get a good poodle and avoid inbreeding||10|
|michael.html||Wycliffe history - pedigree of central line||1.4|
|pdlcolor.html||The genetics of poodle color||14|
|pedigree.html||Determining the mode of inheritance from a pedigree||4.6|
|popgen.html||The value of population genetics to the breeder||7.0|
|primer.html||Basic genetics for breeders||31|
|standard.html||Outline of my research on the Standard poodle||12|
|wycliffe.html||Wycliffe kennel history (poodle) - contents||1.6|
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This information was last updated on December 24, 1997
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