Genetic health programmes are one of the tools used by the SKK (the Swedish Kennel Club) to manage hereditary disease. The SKK implemented the use of screening programmes to improve health in Swedish dogs more than 30 years ago. The first programmes concerned hip dysplasia and hereditary eye diseases. More recently, programmes for other heritable conditions, such as elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and heart disease have been developed. Health programmes are based on breed-specific needs and have been introduced on request from and in consultation with the breed clubs.
An increasing number of genes underlying health issues in dogs are being revealed by advances in molecular genetics research. In addition to health programmes based on phenotypic information, the SKK records findings from genetic tests for several gene mutations. The availability of genetic tests makes it possible to accurately determine the genotype of an individual dog with respect to a specific disease, enabling a more subtle management of breeding programmes to decrease the frequency of a particular disease gene without unnecessary reduction of genetic variation.
Besides physical health, SKK has developed programmes with respect to mental health and management of genetic variation. All results, positive as well as negative, of tests carried out on dogs of breeds included in the various programmes are registered with the SKK and the results are accessible to the public through the SKK webpage.
For more information (in Swedish) on the various genetic health programmes managed by the SKK, please visit www.skk.se, and articles like Breeding Dogs in Sweden