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‘Breed barrier’ limits genetic diversity among dog breeds in the UK

R. J. Mellanby, R. Odgen, D. N. Clements, A. T. French, A. G. Gow, R. Powell and others

THERE is an increasing concern that reproductive isolation related to breed specifications in dogs, while maintaining genetic differences among breeds, is likely to result in genetic disease characteristics of specific breeds. This study examined the genetic diversity among popular dog breed groups in the UK.

DNA samples were extracted from samples taken from 13 different dog breed groups, with at least 15 animals in each group, and analysed. The owner and/or vet assigned the breed type for 12 groups, while the final group, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, were pedigree animals at a dog show.

The study found that several breeds maintained a high degree of genetic diversity; the Jack Russell terrier group, which is not a Kennel Club-registered breed in the UK, had a level of heterozygosity comparable to crossbred dogs. Although breed assignment was not based on pedigree registration for most animals in this study, there was a high degree of uniformity and low heterozygosity in some breeds, including boxers, rottweilers and West Highland white terriers. The rottweiler and …

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