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Theme attended at 3rd IDHW in Paris

  1. 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 DogWellNet.com 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 DogWellNet.com 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 DogWellNet.com, 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 DogWellNet.com. 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: Brenda.Bonnett@ipfdogs.com.
  2. IPFD is a growing voice for dog health, well-being and welfare... and human-dog interactions.
  3. In this section, we provide IPFD logos and other resources for use by the media.
  4. Our Dogs Newspaper: IPFD and our Call for Collective Actions for Dog Health and Welfare Our Dogs Newsletter is a respected and highly subscribed information source, especially for the dog show community, in the UK and around the world. Our Dogs is a subscription-only site, however, articles can be purchased. We are pleased and grateful that they have not only shared our Reframing Current Challenges Around Pedigree Dogs A Call for Respectful Dialogue, Collaboration, and Collective Actions document, but they have also published an editorial as well as an article by David Cavill in their 16 October 2020 Issue. A few excerpts follow. Authors of editorials and articles in Our Dogs have also been calling on the dog show world to participate actively in discussions and actions for dog health and welfare. In his piece, David Cavill re-iterates IPFD's statements on the need for collective actions from all stakeholder groups: "It is refreshing too, that for once a report is not simply a demand for further legislation: it is much more sensible in that it asks that we consider the psychology of pet ownership, our personal commitments and attitudes to all pets and ‘work together for what is truly in the best interest of dogs and the people who care for them’. Brenda also recognises that there are no quick and easy solutions but that what is needed is a roadmap to engage everyone involved. She concludes that those ‘deeply committed to ensuring the survival of all that is good about pedigree dogs need to participate in open and respectful dialogue to identify actions for the benefit of all dogs and people. Each of us should honestly consider how our own attitudes and actions – or inaction – have contributed to the current situation and then together find a positive way forward'." IPFD is working towards a 'roadmap' for next steps and welcomes comments and contributions as to what tools and resources would best support actions. We have a start in our article Think Globally, Act Locally - Promoting Open Dialogue and Collective Actions, and this will be a dynamic process. In the Our Dogs Opinion piece, the author mentions previous material they have posted on the extremes of opinions in the dog world, and how that polarity does not help to foster collaborative and collective actions. We recently wrote in this column: “At one end the extreme traditionalists seem to take a hard line which tells the rest of the world to ‘keep their hands off our precious breeds’ and to‘mind their own business’. At the extreme margins of this group are those who appear not to recognise that there is any problem at all in the various short faced breeds concerned. This is probably an untenable position." “Diametrically opposed to this group are those that think that concessions should be made and breed standards adapted to meet the demands of the fanatical animal rights people. They think that only by making dramatic changes to breed standards and substantially changing their appearance, will the banning of those breeds be able to be prevented." “The middle ground is surely where the sensible proponents of the brachycephalic breeds ought to be.” "The main thrust of Dr Bonnett’s essay is that “Rigid attachment to the status quo of the show world or denial of pressing issues in specific breeds will not protect pedigree dogs.” In saying they "wholeheartedly endorse" the IPFD Call to Action, Our Dogs is helping to foster collaboration and to motivate those concerned with a sustainable future for health pedigree dogs. Here's to engaging all those 'in the middle'!
  5. In This Issue: News & Highlights Actions Around Brachycephalic Dogs: Reports, Research, and Legislative Developments in Several Countries Make a Donation Stay Informed!
  6. In This Issue: News & Highlights UK Owner Survey - The Kennel Club registered dogs: Newly published research Stay Informed!
  7. Happy Holidays from the International Partnership for Dogs and DogWellNet.com! In This Issue: Hold the Date: 4th International Dog Health Workshop News & Highlights Moving from information and collaboration to action: Report from the 3rd International Dog Health Workshop Stay Informed!
  8. In This Issue: News & Highlights A Look Ahead: IPFD and DogWellNet.com in 2018 Helpful Hint Stay Informed!
  9. Click on a link below or scroll down to view each section: HGTD In The News HGTD News From IPFD Initiative Background Key Partners and Leadership Sponsors Executive Summary Timeline HGTD In The News September 14, 2020 IPFD Mentioned in Articles on Australian Labradoodle DNA Study (The Guardian, The Conversation) September 13, 2019: HGTD Interview in Story from ABC 10 (Sacramento, CA) May 16, 2019: HGTD Gets Mention in Story from WGME CBS 13 (Portland, ME) March 8, 2019: USA Today article: DNA testing kits for dogs are super popular. But the testing has some veterinarians pushing standards February 11, 2019: The Associated Press (and various media) article: Dog DNA Testing Takes Off, and Generates Debate November 12, 2018: HGTD featured in The Atlantic: What Vets Think of ‘23andMe for Dogs’ October 3, 2018: IPFD submission responding to “Pet genomics medicine runs wild” published in Nature Visit our IPFD in the Media section for more published articles, commentaries, etc. from outside organizations that reference the HGTD or IPFD. Items in this section related to the HGTD specifically are also presented together in the article In the News: Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs. HGTD News from IPFD December 19, 2018: Update on the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) Visit our IPFD News section for more news related to the HGTD and other IPFD news. HGTD Initiative Description The IPFD Harmonization of Dogs (HGTD) is a multi-stakeholder, collaborative effort to create an open access, sustainable online resource that: Catalogs information provided voluntarily from genetic test providers (GTPs) including information on their company and services, quality measures and expertise, tests offered and more. We are continually engaging more GTP participants. Has collated and assembled existing and new resources for genetic counselling and education; and provided the foundation for further developments. Will host expert panel reviews of genetic tests and their application. Plans to include a program for standardized proficiency testing and potentially peer review and audit. A related development, the Health Strategy Database for Dogs, will include a comprehensive list of conditions (potentially inherited) by breed, country and organization or group who has developed recommendations (i.e. Health Strategy Providers). This resource will support counseling that considers not only those conditions for which there is a genetic test, but also all those breed disorders/ characteristics that impact health and well-being in breeds. Our Steering Committee includes: Brenda Bonnett, CEO, IPFD; Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi, HGTD Project Director, IPFD; Diane Brown, AKC Canine Health Foundation; Matthew Breen, North Carolina State University; Cathryn Mellersh, Animal Health Trust; Sofia Malm, Swedish Kennel Club; Wim van Haeringen, VHL Genetics, Netherlands; Sue Pearce-Kelling, Optigen; and Eddie Dzuik; Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). IPFD, our Partners and other stakeholders in this initiative recognize the input and work of many other experts and organizations in addressing the use of DNA tests in dogs. The Harmonization initiative is working to further engage numerous experts to participate in panels to develop the resource, provide evaluation of tests and work to advance genetic counseling. IPFD actively engaged Leadership Sponsors (see below) to help develop the HGTD Quality Database. These collaborators include international genetic test providers (GTPs), academic institutions, the Hereditary Disease Committee of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and other important dog health organizations. A prototype was presented at the 3rd International Dog Health Workshop and at the 9th Canine and Feline Genetics and Genomics meeting in Minnesota, May 2017. Beta testing of the Quality Database was completed in early 2018, and it was launched on 7 May 2018. Since the launch, there has been a surge of interest from both the public, and potential new collaborators. The HGTD database was the culmination of months of hard work, building of new collaborations, fundraising, and data management. One of the major IPFD projects, it arose from discussions at the International Dog Health Workshops (IDHWs); the HGTD is a proud achievement, exemplifying the IDHW tagline: Information – Collaboration – Action! We have been pleased to find that people are already using the HGTD Database to help find the right international genetic test provider, and testing information, for their dogs. By publishing details on a test provider’s measure of quality, business and research information, and tests provided – as well as information on hundreds of breed-specific DNA tests – dog owners and health professionals are able to make the most of this project. The growth and development over 2018, and the positive interest from diverse professional and public media - from JAVMA to The Atlantic - has been reassuring that this project is both timely and needed in the world of genetic testing. It has also become apparent that IPFD has an important role to play as an independent voice in discussions on the complex world of genetic testing. See, for example, our response to an article in Nature, where we are able to provide a balanced view of issues. See also, a Improving Canine Genetic Testing, a discussion on standards for GTP labs and broader challenges. This is a field with a diverse array of stakeholders, and encouraging discussions will continue to be part of our role. As of December 2018, Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs database currently holds basic information for 59 genetic test providers across 17 countries, with information on quality measures and accreditation for 26 active and participating test providers - including non-profits, academic institutions, and for-profits. Our searchable genetic phenes database currently holds information on 300+ phenes across all breeds/types, and provides a plethora of information on each phene: links to OMIA, gene + mutations, a simple and advanced disease description, inheritance details, links to original publications, patents/licenses, comments from the original researchers/experts on application, and breed specific information (such as research/validation) - where possible. Our projects moving forward in 2019 are to continue to engage with researchers, veterinary experts, and test providers, and also to focus on the development of an expert panel for reviewing genetic testing resources, as well as interactive educational tools for consumers. In addition, we are looking for collaboration to address some common problems across genetic testing, such as nomenclature of genetic tests - which has been a significant challenge in harmonizing across international researchers and test developers. We are pleased that we continue to have sponsorship and support from many of our key Leadership Sponsors to develop our work for 2019. We would welcome anyone with an interest in contributing to, or participating in, the HGTD project to contact us. We are particularly keen to engage with academic and research institutions providing testing, who are concerned about ensuring genetic testing is a beneficial and responsible resource. Key Partners and Leadership Sponsors Read more about IPFD Partners and Sponsors Other potential sponsors and collaborators are welcome to contact us to explore opportunities. Contact: IPFD CEO Brenda.Bonnett@ipfdogs.com or Project Director Aimee.Llewellyn-Zaidi@ipfdogs.com “Wisdom Health and the Wisdom Health logo are trademarks of Mars, Incorporated and its affiliates. Used with permission.”
  10. HGTD, and IPFD, were thrilled to be able to send our very best wishes and acknowledgements to Prof Frank Nicholas, on the 25th Anniversary of the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA) resource. (see Brenda's Blog) Collaboration with, and integration of OMIA's information is vital for a lot of what HGTD is able to do - and fundamental to animal genetics researchers the world over. OMIA is a catalogue/compendium of inherited disorders, other (single-locus) traits, and genes in 251 animal species. OMIA is a great example of collaboration in action - authored by Professor Frank Nicholas of the University of Sydney, Australia, but with expert input and help from many people over the years. For HGTD, it has provided a standardized, unique identifier number for the hundreds of phenes we list on the database, as well as additional information curated by Prof Nicholas and his contributors over the years. The OMIA number is something that can be recognized by genetic researchers across all countries, as a universal reference. It is a resource used by so many HGTD stakeholders, and accepted as something that just... feels like it has always existed. While it is hard to imagine creating HGTD and other resources without OMIA in place, it is easy to take fundamental resources like OMIA for granted that they will exist forever, always expanding, and up to date, without thinking about the challenges required to create them, and the perseverance to keep them going through the years. This concept was in my mind this week as I tackled adding in dozens of new breed-specific research publications and references, as well as updating OMIA references to phenes in the HGTD database. As an integral part of HGTD's principle of transparency in reporting, providing up to date breed-specific and breed-relevant publications from peer-reviewed journals, as well as additional input from geneticists and researchers is a critical, but also a challenging and time-consuming aspect of maintaining the HGTD databases. It requires regular review of OMIA, as new OMIA numbers are generated for new canine single-locus traits, collaboration with researchers who can provide important journal references, and the time and expertise to write and reference technically/clinically accurate phene descriptions, with language and wording that is accessible and clear to a wide audience. This is part of why it was so important from the beginning of the Phenes database development, that we worked to include gene and mutation information for each phene, at a breed-specific as well as testing level. And, why we offer 2 descriptions for as many phenes as possible: a more technical/clinical description for our veterinary and research users, as well as a more real-life experience summary for dog owners and breeders. It might be us who are putting this information in place, but it is only with the collaboration, and expert input from researchers and experts that we are able to have such a robust and responsive resource. Thinking back to our friends at OMIA, I wonder (hope), that IPFD and the HGTD databases will in time be seen as a standard resource and reference for our diverse community, and be celebrating such an auspicious anniversary as OMIA, in the future. With continued thanks, and appreciation to: (puppy photo thanks to Mateja Lemic via Pexels)
  11. We get questions about how we ensure the quality of the information available on HGTD. It can actually be very challenging, and we rely on having good processes, and collaboration when developing content. To meet the IPFD principle of transparency, we are starting a series of blogs to describe how we manage this resource. We hope to then provide a regular news feed on HGTD developments and changes, to give you all an insight into this work. To get started, here is a little insight into running and maintaining HGTD. How do new genetic test providers (GTPs) join? GTPs reach HGTD as part of the wider IPFD network, research conference outreach, and direct contact. Leadership Sponsors, Sponsors and Participants include commercial providers, non-profits, and large and smaller research groups. Donations from our participants and sponsors to help off-set some of the running costs and development of HGTD. All data received is checked for accuracy, and legitimacy. GTPs who offer ISAG, or other accreditation are checked. All testing information is reviewed to standardize nomenclature and catch any errors or mis-translations. Regular reviews of all databases (GTP, Tests, and Phenes) ensure changes in the industry or emerging research is captured, and disseminated. Quick, and accurate publication is our goal. We aim to have new GTP information, and updates added within 48 hours, but this is often much faster. Publication allows for peer-review, and is key to an open and transparent system. What does the general running work look like? As our GTPs are international, we harmonize across different languages, nomenclature, and national/regional accreditations. We also collaborate with groups such as OMIA and ISAG to improve consistency and harmonization across the industry. At any given time, we are the caretakers of information on dozens of GTPs, hundreds of phenes, and thousands of lines of associated data. All of which have to be checked against independent sources, and regularly reviewed to reflect the fast-paced changes in the genetic testing world. What if I want to help? Use HGTD. The most important way to help is to use HGTD, and tell your friends about how helpful you find it. If we can improve it, let us know. Recommend, Donate! If you have a favorite GTP and they aren’t participating, get in contact with us to help us encourage them to become a part of HGTD. If you have the ability to donate, even a small amount, you can choose to direct it towards IPFD, or directly to HGTD. Either way, you will be supporting us in building resources to improve dog health and welfare. Be part of our Collaboration Community. You can send questions about tests, research papers, experience that your breed club has had, or other feedback to us. We work hard to respond quickly, and while we can’t include everything, we always aim to integrate robust new information. Further information/References: Sponsors, Participant, and databases can be viewed in the Genetic Testing section of IPFD: https://dogwellnet.com/ctp/
  12. Is COVID-time the Right Time to Kon Mari Your Genetic Testing Plans? a blog by Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi, MSc; Project Director of the IPFD Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD) initiative. “People around the world have been drawn to this philosophy not only due to its effectiveness, but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective and forward-looking.” -Marie Kondo, Founder of the Kon Mari method. If you’ve already, like so many of us, used the Kon Mari de-cluttering method of “sparking joy” and being “mindful, introspective, and forward-looking” in cleaning out your garage, re-organizing your closets, and finally hanging those shelves, then it is no surprise you might be feeling like your breeding plans could do with a little refresh and reorganize. Sometimes in life, it is really valuable to assess our habits and old ways to see if they still “spark joy” or in this case, are still working effectively to achieve breeding goals. With many breeder organizations encouraging caution when planning litters, or recommending delaying mating plans, (click here) this could be the perfect time to reflect on dog breeding, and be mindful, introspective, and forward-looking with genetic testing! Being Mindful: Identifying what you want to achieve with genetic testing is critical in ensuring that the tests you use are fit for your purpose, and that you are making informed breeding decisions. There are a number of potential goals: confirming a litter’s parentage, using disease/trait test results to guide breeding plans to reduce risks or promote desirable characteristics, or providing a genetic permanent identification for your breeding dogs or puppies. Genetic tests fall into a few different types. For breeders, you might mainly be interested in parentage testing (providing confirmation of a puppy’s parents), permanent identification (a panel of markers that provide a unique genetic “fingerprint” that cannot be removed), and disease/trait tests (individual tests, or packages of tests that give risk or inheritance information on a wide-variety of inherited diseases and traits, such as coat type or color.) There are also genetic tests that are diagnostic or used to assess clinical risks, and increasingly, tests that investigate breed diversity or breed determination. What types of tests you use is determined by what your goals are – it is easy to confuse testing options, and you don’t want to order a parentage test thinking you’re getting a permanent ID, or health information. If you have a number of goals, many genetic test providers offer packages of tests, or reduced costs when purchasing multiple tests and test-types. When choosing disease or trait tests for your breed, you can start by searching the breed-specific tests listed on HGTD. The HGTD project has recently launched Breed Relevance Ratings (BRR) as a guide to what research and evidence (or not) supports available breed-specific tests. BRR uses a “traffic light” system to indicate what we currently know about a specific test for a specific breed. You can use this information in a number of ways, but it is useful when assessing how well-understood a specific disease test might be in your breed. These ratings are dynamic, and will change over time as more information becomes available. As HGTD also provides information on each disease/trait test, you can see the original research for many tests, and use this in conjunction with any information from your test providers to better interpret and understand test results. This is especially valuable when balancing a number of different test results in your dogs, with other breeding considerations. As more breed-specific tests become available, more dogs will of course have a variety low/medium and high-risk results. There is no such thing as a genetically “perfect” dog! We have recently heard from a number of kennel clubs who are either already starting to incorporate parentage testing and genetic permanent identification into their databases, or making plans for this in the future. It can be really reassuring to both breeders and pet homes to have genetic confirmation of parentage – and if you have a genetic permanent identification, it can’t get “lost”, be removed, or be changed. When choosing a parentage or ID test, look for ISAG accreditation to ensure that your test results are interpretable internationally. The ISAG panel used by many GTPs is considered a “gold standard.” They have recently released a new ISAG 2020 panel for SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) testing, in addition to the 2004, and 2006 STR (short-tandem repeat/microsatellite) panels. Once you’ve decided on your goals, and what test(s) you might want to achieve them, who is your best test provider? The Search by GTP/Lab option lets you review test providers, including what tests they offer, any accreditation, and special expertise they have. Many genetic test providers are able to perform and provide test results completely remotely and only require you to use a home kit to test your dogs. Keep in mind that during the COVID-19 pandemic that any tests that require a blood sample, or being sampled by a veterinary professional may not be recommended at this time. Other considerations for choosing a test provider might be which GTPs are “accepted” by your kennel club, what reports look like and any after-care, and what types of tests are offered. (click here) Genetic test providers are increasingly offering breed-specific “panel” tests, which can be really cost effective. It is worth checking to ensure the panel they are offering includes all the tests you’re interested in, or be ready to buy additional tests. In addition, it is recommended that if you are using a panel test, you take your time when reading breed-specific reports. Some panel test providers like to provide all results, irrespective if the test is yet known to be breed-relevant, and others prefer to report only results that are known or suspected to be relevant. Responsible genetic test providers have clear risk information in their reports, whichever style they use. There is a risk that making breeding decisions based on results from irrelevant tests (e.g. where the mutation in your breed has no known correlation with disease risk) could lead to an unnecessary reduction in genetic diversity, false-confidence in disease risk reduction, or welfare issues if a dog’s results are mis-interpreted as a diagnosis for a disease they will never have symptoms of. Introspective/Self-reflective: what to do when you get your test results? Unless you are only interested in parentage or permanent ID, you will almost certainly have more than one genetic disease/trait result to consider in your breeding plans. You will also have other aims outside of genetic testing such as conformation, behavior, and clinical test results, as well as, perhaps the health and longevity of dogs related to the breeding pair. There are many resources that can provide a wide-variety of breeding advice for your breed. (click here) It can be helpful to divide the genetic test information on the dam and sire into a number of categories – what test results do I have? Which are high, medium or low risk? Any that are no risk at all? And, with what I know about the disease test results, how important are they to the health and welfare of my dogs when balanced against other concerns in my breed? Part of what makes genetic tests such a valuable tool, is that you are able to make fairly confident decisions when it comes to paring dogs to reduce or eliminate disease risk, i.e. it may be strongest for rejecting certain pairings. In other words, after eliminating certain potential mates due to genetic incompatibility, you can go on to look at the pros/cons, benefits and risks of the options remaining. Even if genetic testing offers some solid information, do not get lulled into making false assumptions about the over-all suitability of mating pairs or the health of a dog or its progeny (see: Health tested does not mean healthy). Genetic testing is a core breeding tool, but breeders must not get complacent or allow the popularity, simplicity and ‘high science’ of using ‘DNA’ results to distract them from tackling the greater challenges of informed breeding decisions, e.g. prioritizing health, conformation or behavioral traits that don’t come with genetic tests. No one analytic tool or test can replace the broad knowledge and experience that is needed in order to adequately consider the big picture for breeding decisions. Take time to reflect back to your original goals, with your gained insight into the tests and results…“I want to eliminate this mutation from my breeding plans, but doing it slowly will be better for my breed as a whole” vs “this is a really rare disease with high welfare-impact, so trying to get it out of the breeding population quickly is important” vs “I have 20 important considerations, and this genetic test is only one of them.” This is a really useful way to keep your eye on the end-goals, use genetic tests to help hone your breeding plans, and focus your energy. Forward looking Genetic testing technology, including what tests are available and advances in interpretation and advice (as well as confusion!) are only going to increase over time. Most kennel and breed clubs are already including genetic test results in breed records to some extent , and as the genetic technology advances and becomes more accessible, the future is likely to include genetic testing as standard practice, especially when it comes to registration – with parentage testing, and/or health testing regulations. Being informed now will help you to be prepared for the future, and improve your breeding plans moving forward. As a final note, a key part of the Kon Mari method of organizing includes the concept of “thank you, and good bye.” This philosophy allows you to reflect on what worked in the past, be okay with it, and also say good bye to move onto better things for your future. This is the same in dog breeding – you might have tried something in the past that doesn’t work now, or you might have had something that worked okay but could be better. Or you may have old habits and attitudes that could be dropped. Say goodbye, and move on. Learn the lessons from the past experiences, but only take with you when moving into the future, what is right for you and your breeding strategies now and moving forward. References: Kondo, Marie. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
  13. IPFD is truly a "people driven" service organization. We allocate the bulk of our financial resources to maintain a small but dedicated team of consultants to manage our modest resources and facilitate the activities of our stakeholders, with the aim of achieving our collective goals. Your generous donation to support IPFD and its programs helps ensure our long-term sustainability and supports ongoing efforts to create an enduring global collaboration that enhances the health, well-being, and welfare of all dogs worldwide. By supporting the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs initiative you can help us improve standardization of, and access to, robust genetic testing to support health improvements and a sustainable future for healthy dogs.
  14. ♦ REGISTRATION CLOSED ♦ Organized by the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD) and The Kennel Club, in cooperation with other partners. Pre-Meeting Resources - DogWellNet - 4th DHW Overview Dates: Thursday May 30th - Saturday, June 1st, 2019 Venue: De Vere Beaumont Estate, Windsor, UK Location: ~ 6 miles from Heathrow Airport.
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    IPFD's HGTD Project Director, Aimee Llewellyn-Zaide provides an overview of the Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs initiative - challenges and aims of providing quality genetic testing information to the dog community.
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