Future of Dog Breeding is Bright with Cutting Edge Resource to Launch at Crufts

The Kennel Club is launching a cutting edge resource as part of its existing Mate Select service, designed to help breeders to reduce the risk of inherited aspects of two complex conditions - hip and elbow dysplasia.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs), which are being launched at Crufts, use data from the British Veterinary Association (BVA)/Kennel Club Hip and Elbow schemes to calculate an inheritance ‘risk factor’ for each dog.

EBVs will help reduce the risk of inheriting hip and elbow dysplasia more efficiently than by using individual elbow and hip scores alone. Complex inherited disorders such as hip and elbow dysplasia are influenced by environmental or external factors and EBVs strip these away and estimate only the genetic component of these conditions.

EBVs were developed with scientists at the Animal Health Trust, and the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and will help breeders of pedigree dogs make sensible and informed choices for breeding, to ensure that they have the best possible chance of producing healthy and happy puppies.

Dr Tom Lewis, Animal Health Trust Quantitative Geneticist, said: “We have been working with the Kennel Club for a number of years to develop EBVs. EBVs are a more accurate indicator of genetic predisposition to hip and elbow dysplasia, because in their calculation we use the pedigree to link hip and elbow scores for an individual dog with that of all its relatives thereby making more effective use of the scoring data provided by the BVA/KC schemes. They allow more accurate selection since only the genetics is inherited across generations.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We are extremely proud of the EBVs and that we will be launching such a cutting edge resource at the world’s largest dog event, Crufts, to so many dog lovers.

“The EBVs will run as part of Mate Select, the increasingly popular resource from the Kennel Club to help breeders make the best breeding choices. We hope that anyone breeding pedigree dogs, with EBVs available, will utilise this fantastic addition and continue to do their best to protect and maintain the health of pedigree dogs.
“EBVs will help countless dog breeders make decisions based on robust data to estimate genetic risk, something that will undoubtedly help to protect the future of our pedigree dogs.

“EBVs will make use of data collected through the British Veterinary Association and Kennel Club hip and elbow testing schemes, and the more breeders make use of this scheme, the more accurate the estimation can be to determine the chance of inherited conditions. By continuing to hip and elbow score, for example, breeders are effectively securing the future for countless other dogs by providing the information needed to continue Estimated Breeding Values.”

The development of EBVs on Mate Select is an example of how dog breeders, the veterinary profession, BVA, researchers, and the Kennel Club are working together to improve canine health.

EBVs currently exist for fifteen breeds – Akita, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bearded Collie, Border Collie, English Setter, Flat Coated Retriever, Gordon Setter, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Siberian Husky, Rottweiler, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Tibetan Terrier. As more breeders continue to hip and elbow score their dogs using the BVA/KC schemes, it is hoped that more breeds will be added in the near future.

To find out more about this new resource, and other Kennel Club health initiatives, visit the health area of the main Kennel Club stand at Crufts, held on 6th to 9th March at the NEC in Birmingham, or visit www.mateselect.org.uk.