Most dog breeds are super inbred, research has shown

English bulldogs are particularly prone to breathing and other health problems due to their unique body and face shape created by breeding.

English bulldogs are particularly prone to breathing and other health problems due to their unique body and face shape created by breeding.
Photography: Jacob King / PA Wire (AP)

New research seems to confirm the idea that many of our sweetest are purebred puppies they are also burdened by their genetics. The study found that most dog breeds have a high level of inbreeding. Moreover, this inbreeding can contribute to various health problems and expensive veterinary bills over time, especially for larger dogs.

It is certainly no surprise that some dog breeds are not blessed with strong health—Often the result of long-term breeding programs they use close relatives to select the traits they like best in the race. Brachycephalic dogs like pugs or bulldogs are well known for their increasingly squashed faces, for example, characterizes it predisposes to breathing problems (not to mention theirs other issues). This new study, a collaboration between veterinary researchers in California and Finland, decided to take a broader look, hoping to gain insight into the impact of inbreeding on the breed of purebred dogs in general.

To do so, they turned to a genetic database made up of results commercial DNA tests of nearly 50,000 dogs, comprising a total of 227 breeds. They then analyzed the average genetic similarity of dogs within one breed to estimate their level of inbreeding on a percentage scale of 1 to 100. To further test their math, they compared their results with data from previous studies that studied smaller groups of breeds. .

Overall, they estimated that the average level of inbreeding within these races was about 25%, or roughly the amount of genetic similarity you would see between two siblings. But while it’s okay for two family members to be so close, it doesn’t bode well for an animal population that relies on genetic diversity, as most do. At levels that are far lower than in humans (about 3% to 6%, the authors say), you may begin to see a higher risk of inherited disorders or other conditions affected by genes, such as cancer.

“Data on other species, combined with a strong predisposition of breeds for complex diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases, underscore the importance of high inbreeding in dogs for their health,” said study author Danika Bannasch, a veterinary geneticist at the University of California, Davis. statement from the university.

Bannasch and her team went even further in their research, comparing their findings with data from a pet insurance database, using insurance claims for non-routine visits to the vet as a substitute for dog health. They found that dog breeds with higher levels of inbreeding would have additional veterinary care than others, although factors such as size also played a key role. Brachycephalic races were also less healthy than non-brachycephalic dogs on average.

“While previous studies have shown that small dogs live longer than large dogs, no one has previously reported morbidity or the presence of the disease. This study found that if dogs are smaller in size and not related, they are much healthier than larger dogs with high kinship, ”Bannasch said.

The team’s findings were published in canine medicine and genetics.

Bannasch and her team found some breeds of dogs that were much less inbred, such as Danish-Swedish dogs on the farm. These dogs are probably better protected because of the large population and because they are still bred for various jobs, not just for their appearance. And not all breeds with high kinship seemed to be more unhealthy as a result.

But the authors say “careful management of breeding populations” is needed to preserve the existing genetic diversity of all these dogs, both in breeder education and in the use of genetic screening to monitor inbreeding levels. Some breeders have started outcross their dogs (breeding with dogs outside the pedigree) in the hope of improving the genetic health of racial populations, but the authors warn that even these efforts must be carefully monitored to ensure they truly improve diversity.

Although there has been some recognition of the problem, dog breeding groups and organizations have indecisive acknowledge the many shortcomings of the present state of affairs. In response, some veterinary groups even have began to declare himself with people not buying popular breeds like pugs, while at least one country, the Netherlands, has passed strict laws about breeding brachycephalic dogs.

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Naveen Kumar

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