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  1. 4th IDHW: Don't Miss Out - Register Now! News & Highlights IPFD Annual Report 2018: Hitting Our Stride Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  2. Ian Seath has again stimulated our 'little grey cells' and maybe even touched on some emotions, attitudes, and even deep-seated beliefs in his DOG-ED: SOCIAL ENTERPRISE post (23 June 2020): CULTURE EATS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST! Catchy title - firstly - where does that come from, and what does it mean? "Management Guru Peter Drucker famously stated that culture eats strategy for breakfast. So, What does "culture eats strategy" mean for you and your organization? In a very practical sense: No matter what business strategy or strategic plan you try to implement with your team, its success and efficacy are going to be held back by the people implementing the plan if the culture does not support it. " from: SME Strategy Management Consulting Ian's article draws on his extensive knowledge and background in business, strategy, and change management - as well as his fantastic dog expertise - to examine topical international information on COVID-19 and to draw comparisons with challenges in the dog world. He wants to encourage us to think about various aspects of health and welfare in dogs. Further moving his title discussion into the dog world: it means that if those needed to implement and drive change (in attitudes or practices) aren't passionate about the change or at least willing to embrace change or - even worse - if they deny the need for change at all (i.e. deny the existence of 'a problem') or are apathetic to the issues, then you stand no chance implementing a plan. Ultimately it is all about the people. Denial or apathy or resistance to change may occur if there is great passion for and attachment to an existing culture. In terms of the complex problems of the dog world, IPFD exists because it is clear that these issues have many stakeholders who bear responsibilities for the challenges and the solutions. And each of the stakeholder communities has their own culture - and that influences their views and actions and even willingness to collaborate. Ian goes on to describe bench-marking, i.e., ways to define, measure and characterize issues and actions on 3 levels. Let's further describe this relative to the dog world, and with a few possible examples: Metrics (statistics, measures) - tell you “what the performance is” or define and quantify aspects of the issue. E.g., prevalence and increased breed-specific risks of disease in various populations based on quantitative analysis vs. anecdote from personal experience (e.g. MY dogs are healthy!) Challenges: differences across regions, types of dogs, etc.; lack of consensus on how much is too much; perspectives of those who see dogs from different populations - e.g. veterinarians in practice vs. show judges. Lack of comprehensive, clear evidence fosters a reliance on culture-based interpretations...spin! Process (how the situation came to be, or what has influenced those levels): E.g. the influences of breeding practices (how diligently have breeders prioritized health and longevity). It must be noted that these processes have certainly been driven by culture. E.g., breeding for performance vs. for the conformation show ring vs. for companion dogs vs. for the trendy puppy trade E.g. health programs implemented by breed and kennel clubs (Ian gives some good examples) Challenges - the perception of the need for and time frame of change; and the amount of change; the acceptance of any authority over practices and processes from within or outside a community or culture. There is a tendency to look for simple solutions to complex problems - and then to be surprised that the outcome wasn't ideal. Culture tells you the story behind the processes...and that includes attitudes, tradition, beliefs, and habits...of the people involved. Those within a community (e.g. show world, veterinarians, the wider public) may share one culture...or there may be various cultures within a wider community. Culture can change. There are many cultures and communities in the dog world! From those who believe pedigree dogs are the most important and breed standards are essentially inviolable; to those who feel there is room for evolution and flexibility, even within existing registries; to those who feel pedigree dogs are not necessary. From those whose culture defines dogs as commodities or chattels; to those who accept dogs as sentient beings with some rights; to those who think they should be essentially be accorded human-level treatment. Challenges - all those attitudes impact what that community, culture, or group accepts as reasonable levels of welfare or disease or longevity. In fact, when cultural influences are strong, they may impact the willingness of those inside the culture to objectively view metrics, or to embrace processes and programs. And let's face it - a group or individual's attachment to their culture may be so strong, that they tend to view it not as one view, but the only acceptable view. 'Cultural norms' may be very different across communities. Rigidity is a major barrier to collaboration. Keys to moving forward Firstly, reflecting sincerely on how YOUR culture influences you, and then, if you want others to respect your culture Being aware of the differences across stakeholders - in their culture (attitudes, attachments, basic beliefs, approaches, etc.) wouldn't if be great if we could respect all views? but at least we must be aware of whether our disagreements are arising from different interpretation of the metrics and evidence OR from a different approach and process OR from the cultural sphere Taking the brave step outside cultural influences - embrace collaboration and collective actions while never assuming there is a one-size-fits-all solution. Leadership from various cultures and communities is needed. The ultimate question is - do we have common ground on which to advance? For IPFD, that would mean that even if we have slightly different definitions on the specifics, everyone comes to the table with a desire to enhance the health and welfare of dogs. Human aspects are critical as well - but there must be a balance.
  3. This year has been challenging for all organizations globally. However, IPFD has fared well. We have always been a ‘virtual’-based operation, with all consultants working from home. Building on our 2019 Annual Report: A Growing Voice, this milestones document is meant to update our Partners and Sponsors on our activities in 2020. – Dr. Brenda Bonnett, CEO (click to download/share as a PDF): IPFD Milestones December 2020.pdf Message from the Canadian Kennel Club: “CKC’s membership in the International Partnership for Dogs, and participation in the biennial Dog Health Workshop and the international working group for extremes in conformation has strengthened Canada’s position internationally on critical and strategic issues such as conformation standards development, health strategies and breeding Brachycephalic dogs. Closer to home, it has helped CKC to improved awareness and confidence in CKC with breeders, government and the general public that health and well-being of purebred dogs is top of mind.” IPFD Operations IPFD Board IPFD transitioned in three new Board members, from the USA and Germany. In November, we introduced our newest Board Member, Alexandre Balzer, and thanked Gregoire Leroy for his contributions as he stepped away from the Board. The Board has added new committees to increase its effectiveness. The IPFD Communications and Fundraising Committees held five virtual meetings and will be looking to expand with external members in 2021 to broaden representation. See Board and Officer profiles. Team Monique Megens joined as IPFD's first Chief Operating Officer (COO). Her impressive credentials have assisted us in streamlining administrative functions and address growth and sustainability. IPFD CEO Dr. Brenda Bonnett has been named honorary doctor at the Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry. Cancelled all planned travel and face-to-face meetings without substantive impact. Partners and Sponsors In 2019 we had renewed or continued ongoing contracts with all Partners, and in 2020 we have welcomed/are in discussions with several new IPFD Partners/Sponsors, including the Black Russian Terrier Club of America (BRTCA). We continue to develop outreach tactics with our partners, such as IPFD Collaborating Partner, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). IPFD is submitting a monthly feature, called Meet the Breed, as a monthly feature in their online news section and WSAVA Bulletin, which highlights IPFD resources on a particular breed with a focus on breed-specific diseases, international health data, and more. Communications Published 2019 Annual Report: A Growing Voice. In our fifth year we continued to effectively advance our mission of enhancing dog health, well-being, and welfare and supporting human-dog interactions. Enhanced messaging and branding for IPFD with new “About IPFD” section on highlighting who we are, what we do, and how and where we work. New plans to increase our visibility in the dog world. For example, WSAVA collaboration, and plans to distribute content for breed clubs and media. Published seven issues of DogWellNet Digest, a newsletter sent to all members, highlighting new content and featuring a spotlight on major current issues, e.g. 'Pandemic Puppies' and Brachycephalic issues. Social Media: expanding reach with more posts and followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Major Initiatives is the hub for our major initiatives – where the fantastic resources, information, and tools are available to all. In 2020, content has expanded with dozens of new articles and blogs, in addition to resources from our major initiatives (below). As all the pieces of the puzzle of dog health and welfare continue to be compiled, we are advancing also in our role to promote the Big Picture… i.e. a truly holistic approach integrating across stakeholders, topics, and regions and bringing the dog world together. International Dog Health Workshops (IDHWs) A report on the 4th IDHW was published in the online journal Canine Medicine and Genetics. Actions prioritized at that meeting are underway, and outcomes are being realized. Prioritized in the Extremes theme at the 4th IDHW, the new International Working Group on Extreme Conformation in Dogs (IWGECD) has been enacted. It will facilitate creating and sharing resources across national/ international working groups, experts, and other stakeholders. First focused on challenges with brachycephalic breeds, it will eventually address other issues related to extremes of conformation. Significant advancement of actions under Genetics (validation of tests, breed relevance reporting, laboratory standards), Breed Health Strategies, and Supply and Demand are ongoing. There may be a virtual meeting in 2021, and the IDHW in 2022 may be in Canada – stay tuned! Breeds Database It continues to expand both in terms of the content and the number of breeds (180 in total). We added seven new breeds (American Bulldog | American Akita | Pembroke Welsh Corgi | Cardigan Welsh Corgi | Azawakh | Field Spaniel | Frisian Water Dog) and updated many more. A review of content and updates on many other breeds is ongoing. Breed experts and clubs continue to share material, and we are expanding our collaborations. Our breeds material is integral to the new Get a GRIHP! articles (see below). Our 2020 Breeds of the Month features included links to breed profiles in our Pedigree Breeds Database and links to other content on, such as Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles (GRIHPs), which describe the Big Picture of health on (all) conditions that are of interest within a breed. Breeds on the Month included: Australian Shepherd | Saluki | Dachshund (Miniature, Standard) | Cardigan Welsh Corgi | Field Spaniel. Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) The HGTD Database now includes listings for 82 international test providers and 45 actively participating GTPs in 22 countries. The database includes 346 phenes, with gene and mutations provided, links to research, clinical information, and additional publications. 195 phenes have at least 1 breed-specific reference, with most phenes also having additional breed-specific information on test usage or application in the breed(s). Breed Relevance Ratings (BRR) support evidence-based usage and application of genetic tests. BRRs are a way to capture current research, and expert opinion on breed-specific tests, as well as many crossbreeds. Canine health specialists, as well as dog owners, can use BRR to more easily identify tests that may be important to consider in health and breeding decisions. Complimentary to BRR, the information gathered in producing BRRs has added significantly to our phene database, providing more breed-specific research links, contributions from Breed Clubs, researcher commentary, and test application recommendations. Despite only launching this year, more than half of the almost 2000 breed-specific phenes have been assessed for a Breed Relevance Rating. This represents hundreds of hours searching and reviewing research papers, liaising with international researchers and experts, and cross-referencing with external research groups and databases. Significant contributions for review and inclusion have come from breed experts representing years of experience as breed health liaisons, health advocates, and breed clubs and councils. Breed-specific genetic testing information is being integrated into Get a GRIHP! developments. A 3-tiered system for commercial participant has been revised: Sponsors, Supporters, and Participants. We are having good response to our annual request for donations from the test providers. This year also saw a major change in our HGTD page display, showing not only all breed-specific tests, but also tests available to all dogs, in one easy search. For those breeds who do not currently have any breed-specific tests available, they are linked to closely associated breed options. Four major database reviews were undertaken to improve and update gene and mutation information, links to our research collaborators and peer-reviewed publications, and accommodate the expanding breed-specific information. Twelve entries in the new HGTD & Genetic Testing blog, providing regular updates on our expanding genetic testing resources. Bringing it all together: Let’s Get a GRIHP! Dog problems are complex and require a multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach. The pieces of the health puzzle are addressed by: breed clubs identifying conditions of interest in their breed, kennel club recommendations/requirements, researchers studying disease and population statistics, genetic test providers’ offerings, national population stats - and all this must be integrated. Use and interpretation of genetic tests, e.g. needs to be balanced with other disease risks and health and welfare concerns. Veterinarians, owners, breeders, and health advisors need tools to help them pull it all together. IPFD’s answer is to Get a GRIHP! - a Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profile. IPFD is creating a series of articles on the Big Picture of health and welfare within breeds as resources for veterinarians, owners, caretakers, breeders and others who want to understand the key issues for individual dogs and breed populations, internationally; under the 'Get a GRIHP!' initiative. Creating the GRIHP profiles involved not only working with our existing resources (Agria data files and RAS/JTO) but included consultation with breed specialist collaborators as well as collection of data available via IPFD Partner's tools and resources. Use of KC tools from several countries allowed us to create a more 'global' view of breed-specific health profiles. Since their introduction in August of 2020, there are now five breeds (Welsh Corgis | Dachshunds | French Bulldogs | Australian Shepherds | Salukis) with GRIHPs on GRIHPs are referenced in our WSAVA Meet the Breed features. IPFD contributor Ian J. Seath published an article focusing on IPFD's Get a GRIHP! on Breed Health Initiative in Our Dogs and his Sunsong Dachshunds blog. With support from Morris Animal Foundation, we are preparing a Get GRIHP! package for Golden Retrievers. Ultimately, we are working to establish the Health Strategies Database for Dogs (HSSD) that will be an interactive resource of health strategy information from many stakeholders and collaborators. Structured similarly to the HGTD, but with information on all conditions of interest in a breed. Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs IPFD published an article entitled: Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs: A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration and Collective Actions. Our aim is to encourage open and respectful dialogue, collective and collaborative actions, and a global perspective on issues affecting the health and welfare of dogs, including the impact of human dog interactions, the culture of dogs, legislative approaches, and emerging challenges. Brenda Bonnett has participated in several online events to encourage further discussion, including a webinar hosted by the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (APDAWG) on 1 December. We've compiled a list of media stories and articles posted by IPFD Partners and other contributors helping to spread the word on IPFD's Call for Collective Actions for Health and Welfare of Pedigree Dogs. IPFD – Into 2021 Controversies and challenges to dogs internationally continue to underline the need for broad-based collaboration and the impartial voice of IPFD. Initially we were concerned about impact on our Partners due to COVID-19 and associated challenges; however, it seems that with increased dog registrations in 2020, our funding base from most of our existing kennel club partners, e.g., will be stable. And yet, our big ideas need further support. In 2021, we will step up our outreach to enlist new supporters and secure additional revenue through enhanced fundraising efforts. Watch for our 2020 Annual Report early in the new year. Contact:
  4. In This Issue: News & Highlights Collaboration Creates a "Golden" Opportunity for a Beloved Retriever Breed Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  5. In This Issue: News & Highlights IPFD Annual Report 2020: A Year Like No Other Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  6. In This Issue: News & Highlights Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  7. HGTD This Week: NEW feature - Key Comments In our continued effort to improve HGTD, we have a new addition to our breed-specific testing information. Complementing the Breed Relevance Ratings, the new Key Comments feature highlights in the breed search, any tests that have a comment related to the relevance of the test for that breed. Users can then click through to the phenes information to not only read the Key Comment, but also other general, and breed-specific information about the phene. Key comments are sourced from the researchers or test developers, as well as relevant experts. What do Key Comments look like in the breed-specific test listing? Look out for a "key" symbol next to the phenes in the breed-search list. If you see a key, then there is a key comment associated with this phene. You can click on the phene name to read the key comment, as well as other information related to the test including: clinical information, application recommendations in the breed/dog, research/gene information, etc. Once you click through to the phene, look out for the Key Comment information section. What are examples of Key Comments? Key comments are associated with the relevance of the test to specific breeds/types, and can vary in content. Provided by experts in the discovery or application of the test, the information could be related to how common the test is in a breed, specific concerns about the test for a particular breed, or breed-specific application of the test. This differs from the application information currently provided in phenes, which is a general comment on the test application and not breed-specific. Examples of key comments are for the phene congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) in the Golden Retriever, and Golden Retriever crosses. There are currently two tests available for CMS that are available to the Golden Retriever. Each test is based on a different genetic mutation, and CMS is considered rare in the breed and its crosses. In this example, the key comment for the COLQ-related test is that it is very rare and may only be relevant for a specific line of Golden Retrievers, and not have breed-wide importance. Arguably more critical is the CHRNE-related key comment which notes that while this test may be applied to Golden Retrievers, it is actually an incorrect test. In these examples, the key comment not only has breed-specific information on the relevance and the BRR, it also supports test selection where the phene/test names are similar and may be confusing. Who provides Key Comments? Key comments are currently sourced from the original research, with the goal of testing and test results being informative and applied appropriately to a dog/breed. This is most often provided directly from the researchers, but may also be augmented with peer-reviewed publications and/or external links to additional information. In time, it may also include other breed and/or test expert comment. Where can I get more information? You are welcome to ask questions about key comments, or provide feedback by emailing Image via Pexels, H. Lopes.
  8. At a time when we're rethinking almost everything in our lives, Your Pandemic Puppy will recalibrate your concept of puppy rearing and dog ownership. Author Marty Greer, DVM, JD is a member of the IPFD Board.
  9. As part of IPFD's support of new research and research participation, we welcome this guest blog by Quinn Rausch. The Puppy Project is an opportunity for breeders in the US and CA to contribute to important research on puppy socialization and behaviour development. The content of this blog, including external links and all information was provided by Quinn Rausch, and all questions should be directed to them. Background to the Puppy Project To what extent does a young puppy’s experiences affect their behaviour later in life? Every year thousands of puppies are purchased in Canada and the United States and yet little is known about the rearing environments of these dogs or attitudes of breeders around common breeding practices (ref. 1). Previous research from other countries suggests that breeding practices and attitudes can vary greatly (ref. 1-4). Early experiences are known to impact adult temperament (e.g., fear and aggression) and to influence the development of undesirable behaviours (ref. 5-7). Experiences during this period appear to be more influential than any other period (ref. 6-9). A puppy’s first critical period for learning and socialization begins at 3 weeks of age when senses and motor skills become more developed and extends to approximately 14 weeks of age (ref. 5). Broad exposure to a range of different stimuli during this period is thought to be necessary for normal behavioural development. However, it is not clear how much exposure to particular stimuli is sufficient to prevent fear-related issues, and whether early experiences prior to purchase can be protective against inadequate socialization in the new home. Competitive behaviours are also observed in puppies as early as 3 weeks, and some have suggested that early competition might reflect general tendencies that can lead to resource guarding behaviours later in life. Again, the role of early experiences prior to sale have not been fully explored. The majority of studies examining fear and aggression in dogs are based on data collected retrospectively from primary owners of adult dogs and information before purchase at 8-9 weeks of age is not available (ref. 10-14). These early experiences and management practices (0-8 weeks of age) may increase or decrease the likelihood of an undesirable behaviour developing and are important to consider. There are a number of factors that might be influential during this period, including maternal behaviour, food and resource management, and early socialization experiences but they have not been thoroughly studied. Meet the researcher My name is Quinn Rausch (they/them pronouns) and I am a PhD Candidate in the OVC Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Lab under the guidance of Dr. Lee Niel. I have always been fascinated by the relationship we have with non-human animals that share our planet and are ingrained in our society with diverse roles such as companions, entertainment, food, workers, lifelines, etc. I developed my interest in animal behaviour and welfare research early in my undergraduate degree in animal biology through volunteering and spending my summers doing research fulltime. Outside of my research, I am interested in military and service dog training and hope to meld my military career with my academic one to promote the welfare of these invaluable members of our society. Join the Puppy Project A part of my PhD research examines how breeding dogs and puppies are managed in Canada and the United States with a series of five surveys for dog breeders. These surveys will: determine which puppy and bitch management practices are common within the breeding community determine whether there are demographic variables that are associated with certain practices (e.g., breed club or community membership). In future research I will also explore whether particular management practices are protective against development of fear, competition and related undesirable behaviours. In other words, I want to know what works to encourage healthy behavioural development in dogs! The first survey about puppy management is now open for participation. This survey focuses on how breeders care for and manage puppy environments from birth onwards, as well as breeder requirements around puppy sales (e.g., owner screening, puppy health checks). If your dog has had a litter of puppies in the last two years (whether you are a breeder or not) and you live in Canada or the United States, you are eligible to participate. Each participant in each survey will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win a $100 Amazon gift card as a token of our gratitude for participation. Overall, the results of these studies will allow us to understand how to best manage, train and socialize puppies while they are still with the breeder, and once they are in the home. My aim is to work collaboratively with breeders to improve canine breeding programs and canine welfare. Results of these studies will be published in academic journals and shared on our website and social media. Updates can be found on our lab website or our Facebook Page as well as other research projects, opportunities, and recruitment: Website Facebook If you have any questions about this research, please feel free to get in touch with me directly by email at Survey Series Survey 1: Puppy Management Participate here! Link to Survey 1: Over the next six months I will be releasing the remaining four surveys including: References 1. Dendoncker, P., De Keuster, T., Diederich, C., Dewulf, J., Moons, C. On the origin of puppies: Breeding and selling procedures relevant for canine behavioural development. Vet. Record. 2019, 284, 710. 2. Worboys, M., Strange, J., Pemberton, N. 2018. The Invention of the Modern Dog: Breed and Blood in Victorian Britain. Johns Hopkins University Press. 3. McMillan, F. 2017. Behavioral and psychological outcomes for dogs sold as puppies through pet stores and/or born in commercial breeding establishments: current knowledge and putative causes. J. Vet. Behav. Clin. Appl. Res. 19: 14-26. 4. Nagasawa, M., Mitsui, S., En, S., Ohtani, N., Ohta, M., Sakuma, Y., Onaka, T., Mogi, K.., Kikusui, T. 2015. Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science 348: 333-336. 5. Scott, J.P. & Fuller, J.L. 1965. Genetics and the social behavior of the dog. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 6. Howell, T., King, T., Bennett, P. Puppy parties and beyond: The role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior. Vet. Med. Res. Rep. 2015, 6, 143 7. Scott, J. Marston, M. 1950. Critical periods affecting the development of normal and mal-adjustive social behavior of puppies. Pedagogic. Semin. J. Gen. Psychol. 77: 25-60. 8. Scott, J. 1957. Critical periods in the development of social behaviour in puppies. Psychosomatic Medicine. 20: 42-54. 9. Fox, M., Stelzner, D. 1966. Behavioural effects of differential early experience in the dog. Anim. Behav. 14: 273-281. 10. Guy, N., Luescher, A., Dohoo, S. 2001. Demographic and aggressive characteristics of dogs in a general veterinary caseload. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 74: 15-28. 11. Haug, L. 2008. Canine aggression towards unfamiliar people and dogs. Vet. Clin. Small Anim. 38: 1023-1041. 12. Hsu, Y., Sun, L. 2010. Factors associated with aggressive responses in pet dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 123: 108-1041. 13. Blackwell, E.J., Twells, C., Seawright, A., Casey, R. 2008. The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behaviour problems as reported by owners in a population of domestic dogs. J. Vet. Behav. 3: 207-217. 14. Tiira, K. Lohi, H. 2015. Early life experiences and exercise associate with canine anxieties. PLoS ONE 10: e0141907.
  10. This article talks about two common terms used in dog breeding, and as part of strategies for impacting genetic diversity. Though sometimes used interchangeably, and used to mean multiple different practices, understanding the differences in the terms and the potential application in breeding programs is one tool dog breeders can use to change and improve genetic diversity.
  11. Recently we received a question from a Harmonization of Genetic Testing (HGTD) user, who had wanted to use an "Ancestry" genetic test to determine a puppy's likely sire. It is not uncommon, when trying to determine the right test for your purposes, to mistake "Ancestry" tests for parentage, or genetic identification tests. The information below talks about what ancestry, or breed mix genetic tests are, how they can be used, and some of the limitations. What is an Ancestry/Breed Mix Genetic Test for dogs? Ancestry/breed mix tests are a way to estimate what breeds compose your mixed-breed dog, or to help determine what breed(s) your dog of unknown origins might be. You can find more information about the different kinds of genetic tests available, here. It is not uncommon for people who use an ancestry/breed mix test to have some surprising results. Understanding how these tests generally work might make it easier to understand your results. At its most basic, an ancestry/breed mix test compares specific sections of your dog’s DNA, known as markers, to a reference database of hundreds of dog breeds or types. A genetic marker is a DNA sequence with a known physical location on a chromosome. Genetic markers can help link an inherited disease or trait with the responsible gene. This data estimates the likely breed(s) that compose your dog, to a few generations back (e.g. grandparents). You can find genetic test providers offering these kinds of tests by searching for "Breed/Type/Variety test" on HGTD. How precise these tests are is dependent on a number of factors, including: The size and scope of the reference library The number of specific areas (referred to as genetic markers) of DNA the test “looks” for in your dog How well understood the markers are, and how well they correlate with genetic markers associated with breed-specific traits The size of the reference library, in terms of gene coverage and breed/types included is important to improve precision. Arguably even more important is having genetically well-defined breed samples, and knowledge of breed population-specific challenges such as breed population variations or genetic diversity. More markers doesn’t automatically mean “better” if the markers don’t associate well with specific breeds – though you also need a large enough number to differentiate between breeds/types. When you look at different test providers information online, you can usually find information on how many breeds are included in their reference panel, how they determined which dogs to reference, what kinds of genetic markers they are using for comparisons, etc. They should also be able to tell you how many “generations” they are including in your dog’s results and answer any questions when your results aren’t what you might be expecting. How are Ancestry/Breed mix tests helpful? If you have a dog of unknown origin, these tests can help give you some idea of the dog’s traits - such as size, temperament, and even potential health risks. Test packages vary, but in addition to breed estimation, often include some specific genetic tests for traits (like coat colour) and sometimes disease risks. If you have a mixed or crossbreed dog you are considering using for breeding, the testing packages with breed or type-specific disease risk results can help in choosing suitable mates to reduce the risks of inherited diseases in subsequent generations of dogs. What Ancestry/Breed tests do not do: It is not a way to confirm a pedigree breed, or refute pedigree papers. It is not for determining parentage. It is not necessarily for permanent ID*. It does not determine “health” nor determine all inherited disease risks. (e.g. there are many inherited diseases that cannot currently be genetically tested for). So, what is a Parentage test? A parentage test works by collecting DNA samples from the dam, sire, and offspring to determine each individual dog's unique genetic profile, based on a special group of genetic markers. This special group of markers might be called a "parentage panel" or "genetic profile panel" or by the technical type of reference panel used. There are 2 main reference panels for this purpose: ISAG (International Society for Animal Genetics) and the AKC (American Kennel Club) Panel. Each dog's unique genetic profile of markers is compared, and, much like in human parentage testing, if enough markers are in common, you can confirm parentage. Likewise, you can confidently exclude possible parents. In very rare cases, if the dogs are highly inbred, or the disputed parents are very closely related and inbred, it can be more challenging to absolutely determine parentage. You should expect your genetic test provider to have very specific protocols for sample collection for parentage. Benefits of parentage profiling: Improves accuracy of pedigree data Confirms accuracy of hereditarily clear by decent genetic test results Limitations of parentage profiling: Parentage can only be robustly confirmed when you have data from the dam, sire, and offspring You cannot normally “back-determine” parentage from other relatives data – e.g. you can’t use combinations of grandparents, siblings, half-siblings, etc. For highly related or inbred matings, there can be challenges in determining parentage You cannot determine parentage using incompatible marker panels (e.g. ISAG + AKC) In Summary: A breed ancestry or breed mix test estimates the likely breed(s) that make up an individual dog. A parentage test identifies specific, related individuals: parents and offspring. *different product packages may include options for including permanent ID Cover photo: Eddie Galaxy via Pexels.
  12. Vets – what can HGTD do for you? Genetic testing is part of our dog's lives Just as genetic testing has become normalized in the human world, thanks to popular direct to consumer products like 23 and Me, or, so it has in the veterinary world. While perhaps once the preserve of specialist dog breeders, it is increasingly common for vets in practice to have questions from clients about DNA testing. While covering the basics of testing and inheritance is part of many veterinary educations, it is unreasonable to expect anyone to have knowledge of the 300+ different genetic tests available to 400+ recognized dog breeds, and their crosses – let alone which of the 2,500+ breed x test combinations might be the most relevant for your client. This is where Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) can help. How HGTD can support veterinarians and their clients HGTD provides a searchable, comprehensive list of genetic tests available internationally. With a quick breed search, you can instantly find transparent information on breed and type-specific tests for advising clients on options for pre-breeding genetic tests, gene-based diagnostic/risk testing, parentage/maternity/paternity. There are even breed relevance ratings (BRR) for most tests – indicating the research underpinning the relevance of a specific test for a breed. At a glance, for each test you can find clinical information, links to original research papers (most open access) and additional education sources for both veterinary health professionals and clients. HGTD information works in conjunction with wider breed-specific health testing and information from the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD), via Examples include: - breed-specific health strategies from international kennel and breed clubs - clinical health testing (e.g. eyes, hip, elbow, heart schemes around the world) - veterinary collaborations – IPFD is a World Small Animal Association (WSAVA) Educational partner and FECAVA is a Collaborating Partner of IPFD Find yourself with a client wanting to know about inherited eye diseases in the Cesky terrier? All the DNA tests available for the Otterhound? Whether there is a genetic test for mustaches in Schipperkes? Which companies offer genetic testing for dogs in Belgium? HGTD has a search option for all! Start a search of the Harmonization (HGTD) database here! How does HGTD fit into wider health concerns? Genetic testing is just one tool to improving canine health and welfare. There are a number of additional resources from IPFD on providing breed and type specific health data, and how genetic testing fits into the Big Picture of health and welfare. Check out: Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profiles e.g. 'Get a GRIHP!' This series of articles focuses on the Big Picture of health and welfare within breeds including international resources for veterinarians, owners, caretakers, breeders and others who want to understand the key issues for individual dogs and breed populations monthly IPFD feature articles in the WSAVA Bulletin. breed-specific health reports Can HGTD do more? HGTD is built on a principle of working collaboratively to meet the needs of our canine community. If you're a veterinary scientist, or canine health professional and have a question about genetic testing, or an idea of how HGTD could improve to further improve access to, and understanding of genetic testing, please let us know. Photos: La Miko (main image) and Alana Sousa (inset image) from Pexels.
  13. Breed Relevance Ratings (BRR) are a way to assess the relevance of a specific test for a specific breed, based on the currently best-known information on the research and development of a test - but genetic tests are not limited to pedigree breeds. Genetic tests are used for a variety of reasons on all dogs, and understanding the relevance is important for any purpose-bred dog or breeding program, as well as individual dogs. BRR’s are estimated for all dogs, and where the research is not available for a specific breed or type, we have processes to provide transparent information about test relevance. How are BRRs estimated for cross-breeds? Where a test is available to a crossbreed, but there isn't crossbreed-specific research: If you are not yet familiar with the BRR color-code system, you can find information here. BRRs available for named crosses on the HGTD database do not assume the level of cross that has occurred – e.g. they do not assume that it is a Goldendoodle X Goldendoodle VS Golden Retriever X Standard Poodle. This is important, because research and anecdotal evidence from cross-breeders indicate that crossbreeds can vary in their crosses origin, and a 50:50 split between 2 breeds should not be assumed. This also acknowledges that some breed crosses are between similar breeds who may already share genes from before a division into distinct breeds - for example, Irish Setter and Irish Red and White Setters certainly share some historical origins. The table below gives a summary of the normal estimation of BRR where there is no cross-specific research known. Breed A Breed B Cross A x B Comments BRR is red or orange BRR is red or orange BRR may be orange, or yellow, with details in the phene/test breed-specific information Using test may risk results that are unhelpful or detrimental in decision-making BRR is green BRR is red or orange BRR is yellow, and may have information in the phene/test breed-specific information Impact of test results is unknown – may or may not be informative. This test should be considered with caution. BRR is yellow BRR is yellow, or test is not available BRR is yellow Impact of test results is unknown – may or may not be informative BRR is green BRR is yellow, or test is not available BRR is normally green, with details in the phene/test breed-specific information Test results are, on balance, likely to be informative and the test is relevant to the crossbreed BRR is green BRR is green BRR is green, but may be at a lower-level, unless additional evidence is available. Test results are likely to be informative and the test is relevant to the crossbreed For any BRR that are not able to be cross-breed specific, it is strongly recommended that you review the phene information to learn more about the disease/trait that is being tested for. The information there will be valuable to you when making a decision about the risk or importance of the test. Understanding the type of cross you have is also important. For example, if your dog is a Golden Retriever X Standard Poodle vs. Goldendoodle X Goldendoodle. If you're using a genetic test for breeding plans, this will impact the risk of inheritance in subsequent generations. The phenes database holds information on breed-specific research, and can include comments from researchers or pre-publication information that could be helpful for crossbreeds. For example, in PRA GR PRA2, there was specific feedback from the research team that developed the test to recommend it to Goldendoodles, based on the testing already performed across Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Goldendoodles, as well as the original published research. Few researchers have the funding to do fully published and peer-reviewed cross-specific research for genetic tests, so the recommendation for tests with simple inheritance (e.g. Autosomal Recessive) is usually to test for any breed-specific tests in the composing breeds. Where there is crossbreed-specific research: The BRR is estimated in the same way as any breed. You can find information here. A good example of this is the genetic test for the disease “Ichthyosis, PNPLA1-related”. This is a relatively rare skin condition, that causes serious discomfort and welfare issues for a dog. The mutation was first discovered in the Golden Retriever in 2012, but was further investigated and described in golden-retriever-poodle crosses. When looking at the phene data, you can see publications for both breeds/types, in addition to the usual general description of the phene, GTPs offering the test, and other related information. What should I do if I don't see my crossbreed listed? New purposely bred crosses, or less common crosses, should ideally look at the breed-specific information for the breeds they are crossing when prioritizing testing information to use as part of a breeding plan, or to inform on an individual dog's risks. If considering genetic testing as part of breeding plans, it would be reasonable to be conservative, and use the breed-specific tests on the male and female being crossed to identify any genetic risks to the dogs themselves, and any genes they may pass on. In many cases, there can be genetic tests in common between breeds. These tests in common would likely be more informative on the risks for an individual dog, as well as any breeding considerations. For example, Progressive Retinal Atrophy - PRA prcd has 22 different breeds where the test is relevant (as of Dec 2020), and many more where the test is available. So, in principle any cross between those 22 different breeds should be one where the test results of PRA-prcd are considered. Where tests are not in common between two breeds being crossed, it becomes more complicated. If used in breeding plans, best practice would still recommended testing parents, and then off-spring, for all breed-specific tests for both parents. For an individual dog's risks, contacting your test provider for genetic advice or counselling may be valuable. You may find the table above useful in considering prioritizations. What about for “ALL” dogs? There are some tests that are available and relevant to all dogs. Examples include genetic tests that are: Diagnostic for a dog-wide condition (e.g. some cancer-risk tests) It relates to genes common to all dogs (e.g. coat colours) It is a genetic tool specific to an individual dog such as DNA profiling, or parentage As inheritance in cross and mixed breeds is generally less predictable than breeds using breed-specific tests, it is important to be aware of risks, take your time to research or get advice on genetic testing. Any permanent decisions (e.g. neutering, healthcare) should be approached with especial caution and with robust veterinary and genetic counselling, with the dog’s welfare always in mind. Any questions? As we are developing more advice and support for cross and mixed breed dogs, please feel free to contact us with any questions about genetic testing until more resources become available, at: Title image with thanks to Helena Lopes via Pexels.
  14. In This Issue: News & Highlights An Update on IPFD's Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  15. What a great weekend of education - with the Canadian Kennel Club and about 170 participants, including breeders with a range of experience from over 40 years to novices. Speakers Dr. Kari Ekenstedt, a geneticist from Purdue University in Indiana and IPFD CEO Dr. Brenda Bonnett covered 'everything you need to know to understand genetic testing' in a clear, concise and entertaining series of talks. Interactive discussions with the many knowledgeable, committed attendees were interesting and thought-provoking. Read more here. Download the schedule here: CKC Seminar Schedule Final.pdf My talks covered the Harmonization of Genetic Testing and the many initiatives IPFD is pursuing to support breeders, as well as a talk together with Kari on Ethics and Welfare. In addition, both speakers addressed issues about genetic diversity, selection and inbreeding. Dr. Ekestedt's presentation was a primarily science-based coverage, including description of various tools, including calculation of Coefficients of Inbreeding (COIs). My talk on Population Health and Diversity presented a more conceptual coverage of diversity (see below), including examples from other species. Both talks included practical suggestions for including these aspects in breeding decisions, but this was also meant to promote discussion and consideration by breeders as they examine their own role, as well as the roles of breed and kennel clubs in promoting and conserving health and longevity in their breeds. It is clear that many breeders are struggling with definitions and implications of genetic diversity, inbreeding and line breeding, and with resolving new information from the fast-advancing world of genetics and genomics with long-held attitudes and practices that are firmly embedded in dog breeding culture. Below are some key points and challenging issues raised in these talks and in the interesting and frank discussions with participants. Thanks to the Canadian Kennel Club and all the participants for a stimulating and enjoyable weekend of continuing education! Congrats to the CKC team who put on a great event. Stay tuned as we will post on the video of my talk and links to the rest of the program - hopefully in early January 2020. Additional reading on Genetic Diversity Understanding Breeds as Populations - J. Bell What we can learn from each other: Show Greyhounds Is Crossbreeding a Part of the Plan for Bulldogs -- Genetic Considerations (references Pederson Study) Small Population Breeds and Issues of Genetic Diversity - J. Bell
  16. HGTD This Week: NEW Inclusive breed-specific test listings on HGTD In our continued effort to improve HGTD, we have made major changes to our breed-specific genetic test listings. We’ve added a number of new features and information to help owners, breeders, and canine health professionals make the most of the breed-specific test listings. See the updated article: HGTD - What is a Breed Relevance Rating? for more details. NEW Test type descriptions Breed-specific tests are now listed under 4 different categories of tests: Genetic Disease/Disorder, Other Genetic Traits, Diagnostic Tool, Parentage/Kinship/Identity/Scan. These categories help to make the intended purpose of the different tests clearer, and better indicate how each test, or test result, can best apply to your dog. For example, if you are a dog breeder or breed health advisor wanting to focus primarily on pre-breeding testing to reduce inherited disease risks, the test and test results that may be most important to you would be the Genetic Disease/Disorder tests, and perhaps Diagnostic Tools. On the other hand, if you are a veterinary professional looking to diagnose a suspected inherited disease, or confirm a diagnosis, the Diagnostic Tool genetic tests may be most important. IMPROVED test listings for all dogs There are many genetic tests that are available that are not breed-specific. This includes many of the “Other” Genetic Traits, Diagnostic Tool, and Parentage/Kinship/Identity/Scan test types. You can now see these displayed below any breed-specific tests available, so you can more easily find information on the tests you need. Occasionally, there are breed names or breed-types that are not categorized in the same way across all countries; e.g. dogs with different coat types may be considered the same or different breed or variety under different registries. And sometimes, Genetic Test Providers (GTPs) simply indicate they offer a test to all similar dogs (even sometimes, e.g. 'Terriers'). For those breeds or types where there are currently no breed-specific tests specified, we have now included recommendations from similar breeds – e.g. where there aren’t tests specific to “Chihuahuas/ Longhaired”, there are tests available to the more general “Chihuahuas.” You can then explore the specific test information to see if this might be relevant for your breed. Further, GTPs may indicate that they provide some tests for 'All Dogs', regardles of breed or type and including mixed breeds. You will see these listed as 'ADDITIONAL TESTS FOR ALL DOGS' after the breed-specific tests, and the related results tests. Some of these are for Parentage/Kinship/Identification - which are not breed-specific. Others - including diagnostic tests, those for Diseases/Disorders and other characteristics are made available by some GTPs to All Dogs, but the individual tests may not have much evidence on their validity or use in specific breeds. Read more about how we are handling this in terms of the BRR in the HGTD - What is a Breed Relevance Rating? article linked above. Let us know! If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for improvements on HGTD resources, please contact
  17. Calling All Breed Experts! HGTD’s phenes database and breed relevancy ratings (BRR) are an important source of information for anyone engaged in dog health and breeding, through the harmonizing of scientific data from a wide-variety of experts, research publications, veterinary and genetics researcher contributions, and in-house expertise. Just as important, though, are the contributions from breed experts. Breed experts are individuals with significant knowledge of their breed or breeds. Breed experts are most often breed or kennel club members who work on health and breeding strategies, or veterinarians, researchers, or other dog health professionals who have an interest in a specific breed. Breed experts often provide vital first-hand experience of health issues, are the first to raise awareness about an emerging health concern (or improvement!), directly contribute to research, and give depth and context to the practicalities of dog owning and breeding. Are you a breed expert? HGTD (and IPFD, more generally) has benefited from our breed expert contributors, who have provided breed-specific guidance on diseases important to their breed(s), links to current ongoing research, and feedback on HGTD features that are most beneficial or in need of improvement. These contributions make HGTD unique by being a resource by and for the whole dog health community. Within the Phenes database of HGTD, in addition to the breed-specific researcher provided information, you can find examples where breed clubs have provided links to breeder resources, or highlighted breed-specific mutations - which are important to ensuring you get the right test for your breed. HGTD welcomes input from breed experts in a number of areas. If you’ve got some expertise you can share, help us improve by: Signing up as a Member of IPFD (it’s currently free, and you can access Members-only information) Reviewing the breed relevancy ratings for your breed. We base these ratings primarily on peer-reviewed research and health/veterinary expert input, but contributions from breed experts have helped us refine and add detail to relevance information. This is especially helpful for differences between countries/regions. Providing breed club information related to breed-specific tests and diseases – especially helpful are non-English versions for our world-wide users. Sending us questions! We feature questions related directly to genetic testing on this blog, and more general breeding for health questions in our Ask Aimee blog. Sharing IPFD and HGTD information and resources with your community If you have any contributions or questions, please email them to: Image: Artem Beliaikin via Pexels
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