"Genetic tests for dog traits, that is their physical characteristics, and diseases have become increasingly available over the past few years, offering exciting opportunities for improving the health of dogs at both individual and population levels. Dog owners and breeders have long dreamed of having genetic tools to allow them to determine if a dog is predisposed to any genetic diseases and/or to make educated breeding decisions that will improve the health of future generations. While the increasing availability of these tools is exciting, many genetic test results are difficult to interpret and can lead to confusion. Proper interpretation of genetic test results and understanding the limitations of a test are important to avoid their misapplication, which can cause unnecessary concern and expense to dog owners (e.g., clinical exams, dietary modifications). Moreover, the misapplication of genetic test results in breeding programs could lead to excessive neutering and unnecessary removal of individuals from the breeding population, which can negatively impact genetic variability within a breed, rather than improve its overall health.
The present document was supported by collaborative funding provided by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation with the goal of providing dog owners, breeders, and veterinarians with a foundation in canine genetics to help interpret and understand the implications of genetic test results. The information in this document is intended to help users of genetic tests determine which (if any) changes should be adopted to improve a dog’s quality of life and wellbeing. The document is designed to be a “living resource” that will be updated as new information becomes available and is accompanied by a glossary of genetic terms and didactic videos that will help the reader better understand important genetic concepts. The types of genetic tests currently in use, their application in breeding programs and their limitations will be discussed as well as potential detrimental effects of the misapplication of test results in both pet and breeding dogs. Finally, the future of genetic testing in dogs will be discussed as well as any anticipated limitations."