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Whippet Health

a resource for whippet owners & breeders

KC Initiatives to improve the health of pedigree dogs

 The Kennel Club held a Breeder's symposium in 2010 where they unveiled a new tool to help breeders to reduce the COIs of pedigree dogs. This was known as Mate Select




Prof. Jeff Sampson. Kennel Club – the consultant on canine genetics gave the talk, reproduced below is the summary as supplied by the Kennel Club


IT Developments at The Kennel Club


As you all know, dog breeding has never been under such close scrutiny as it has during the last couple of years and as a result there have been two or three major independent inquiries into the health and welfare aspects of dog breeding. The overall outcome of all these reviews were not particularly surprising, but concentrated majorly on the following areas;


Health screening of potential parents

The impact that inbreeding has had on population structure of purebred dogs

The need for better health surveillance to provide further insight into the overall health of dogs today


Of course the Kennel Club, Breed Clubs and Councils and dog breeders generally have been collaborating in all of these areas,to a greater or lesser extent,for considerably longer than the last two years.


Health surveillance of potential breeding stock has been part of the responsible breeder psyche for some considerable time. We have three major clinical screening programmes,run jointly with the British Veterinary Association, one to detect inherited conditions of the eye, one addressing Hip Dysplasia and the third one focused on Elbow Dysplasia. The first two of these schemes have a long and illustrious history,both being around in one form or another since the 1960 s. The Elbow Dysplasia Scheme is somewhat younger, being introduced in 1998. Over the years many tens of thousands of dogs have been screened under these three schemes and breeders have been able to use the results to select against these conditions in their breeding programmes. There is no doubt that these three schemes have been very successful in addressing the conditions covered by the schemes.


More recently, since the turn of the century, more predictive screening programmes, based on an understanding of the molecular mutations causing inherited disease and the development of simple DNA tests for them,have been developed. This new DNA technology has certainly provided new and sensitive weapons in the breeders armoury to eradicate the causative mutations for these simple,single gene mutations and others will talk in depth at this symposium on these issues. One major boost to this technology here in the UK has been the creation of the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust(AHT). This support of canine genetics at the AHT really recognises the importance of the research group there to UK dog breeders and provides a significant financial input to encourage the development of more DNA tests for single gene disorders.


Inbreeding has been part of the breeding of purebred dogs since the very beginning. Early exponents used this approach skilfully to first establish a breed and then to expand and improbe breed type and temperament,providing the dog breeds that we all enjoy today. Inbreeding comes in different shapes and sizes, but is essentially the breeding of two dogs that are more closely related to each other than they are to the rest of the breed.  So, linebreeding is inbreeding and therefore has had an effect on the overall population structure on todays dog breeds. Genetic bottlenecks have also had a part to play and their effects are also reflected in the genetic structures of dog breeds. Over the years, the use of popular sires in many breeds has introduced significant genetic bottlenecks. There is no doubt that linebreeding and the use of popular dogs have improved dog breeding over the years,but it has also brought with it collateral problems leaving most of todays dog breeds far more genetically homogeneous than we would wish. This is a particularly difficult area to discuss because there are no direct consequences of the loss of genetic diversity that breeding practices over the centuries has brought about, but what we can say is that as the level of inbreeding goes up, with consequent loss of genetic diversity, then the risk of serious problems resulting also increases. Fortunately, the KC has been working for a number of years now to understand the level of inbreeding and find ways of helping breeders begin to manage inbreeding and therefore manage the risk of developing serious problems within dog breeds. The new Mate Select tool is the first of,i hope, many new tools that will help breeders manage inbreeding in the future and has been made possible largely through the other half of the Genetics Centre at the AHT which is represented by the quantitative genetics groups there, and we have also heard from them at this Symposium.


Finally health surveillance, this really is an important facet of moving forward and continueing to improve the overall well being of purebred dogs. We all really need to make a concerted effort to better understand what is going on with the health of todays dog breeds. With understanding comes the possibility of developing more useful screening programmes that will help breeders control inherited disease in future generations. Health surveillance will form a central platform for future progress. Breed Clubs will have to assume responsibility for surveying the health of their own breeds and the Kennel Club will have to find more successful ways of collating information provided by breed clubs so that research will be able to better understand the individual conditions and provide new ways of helping breeders to prevent the disease being passed to future generations. Of course, in many breeds work in this area has already begun, but we must all increase our efforts to ensure that progress is as rapid as possible.






"The population structure of our pure bred dogs is a little peculiar and with that comes increased risk"  

Prof Jeff Sampson

(KC genetics consultant)

Notes from the talk on Mate Select



The Mate Select system is web-based, free of charge & was launched by the KC in 2011


The system enables breeders and puppy buyers to find the inbreeding coefficient of any dog or of a planned litter at the touch of a button. Simply type in the registered name of the sire and Dam

and the database will do the rest.


There will be explanations of the importance of COI on the web page


The question of recommended level of COI  was put to  Mr Sampson , the reply was that matings will only be advisable if the predicted COI is lower than the average for the breed.


DNA test results will be recorded on a Health Database  along with results from all BVA schemes ,this will be searchable


The KC will take over and store breed specific test results that are not official KC requirements for the breed.


It is hoped it will be available to receive information on inherited disease from pet owners, permission will need to be given to contact the treating veterinary surgeon


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