This approach will also improve genetic diversity, which helps to counteract the risk of disorders, researchers say.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute made the recommendations having reviewed the various approaches that are being taken to minimise potential defects in pedigree animals.
Pedigree dog breeds are created for desirable physical and behavioural characteristics, which often stem from breeding between closed familial lines over years and — in some cases — centuries.
This approach means that inherited diseases can become more common in pedigree populations. Around half of all King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, for instance, are affected by an inherited heart murmur that can be life-threatening.
Health screening dogs before selecting animals to breed from has already helped to reduce the prevalence of some diseases, such as floating knee-cap in the Dutch Kooiker breed.
DNA tests are now available to help identify dogs carrying gene mutations that are known to cause some severe illnesses. It is hoped that this technology will help to eliminate disease-causing genes from pedigree lines.
But ruling out breeding dogs solely on the basis of a single failed DNA test result will reduce the gene pool of pedigree lines and make inbreeding more common, researchers say. It could also inadvertently increase the prevalence of other genetic diseases which have not been tested for.
The researchers recommend limiting the use of individual stud dogs to
Don’t you just hate it when trees jump into the middle of the road?
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