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Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling in Pet and Breeding Dogs


    World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2010

    Jerold S. Bell, DVM

    North Grafton, MA, USA


    "Breeders should be counseled on how to utilize test results for the best interests of the breed."




    With so many new developments in the study of canine genetics we find owners, breeders and breed clubs engaged in exploration of best management practices and making decisions to 'improve' individual dog's and breed's health based upon results of genetic tests and evaluations. This article is a starting point for consideration of what genetic counseling is - who needs it, and when and how is it delivered.



    Dr. Jerold Bell




    "As practitioners, we deal with genetic disease every day in our practice in cross-bred and pure-bred dogs. Predictability is the hallmark of genetic disease. With disorders whose progression can be altered, our role as veterinarians is early diagnosis and intervention. Any recommendations that we make to clients based on our knowledge of how our patients will respond to that recommendation is genetic counseling."


    Genetic Counseling for Owners

    "We need to be knowledgeable about what genetic tests are available, and in what patients they should be run. "



    Genetic Counseling for Breeders

    "Breeder genetic counseling recommendations are geared toward preventing the production of affected animals, and reducing the production of carriers. At the same time, recommendations should allow the continuation of breeding lines, to preserve the genetic diversity of the population.

    Historically, genetic counseling has ranged from recommendations to not repeat a mating and outbreed, to recommendations to eliminate all relatives of affected dogs. Neither of these serves the best interest of breeds. Outbreeding can prevent the production of affected animals, but it will propagate and further disperse the detrimental recessive genes. Breeders are working with closed studbooks, and must consider how selection affects genetic diversity in the gene pool."





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