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Effect of inbreeding on survival and litter size in dogs

G. Leroy, F. Phocas, B. Hedan, E. Verrier, X. Rognon

THIS French study aimed to assess whether litter size and longevity in seven dog breeds are affected by the degree of inbreeding.

Phenotypic and genealogical data on dogs registered by the French Kennel Club were assessed. The seven breeds were: Bernese mountain dog, bassett hound, cairn terrier, Epagneul Breton, German shepherd dog, leonberger and West Highland white terrier.

The number of dogs assessed per breed ranged from 1775 (Bernese mountain dog) to 39,080 (German shepherd dog). Average litter size ranged from 3.5 (West Highland white terrier) to 6.3 (leonberger). Mean longevity ranged from 7.7 years for the Bernese mountain dog to 12.2 years for the cairn terrier. In all breeds, litter size was significantly reduced when the offspring were more inbred. Litter size was reduced when dams were more inbred in all breeds except the bassett hound and Epagneul Breton. Inbreeding had a negative impact on longevity in all breeds studied except for the bassett hound and cairn terrier.

The authors conclude that inbreeding affects reproduction parameters and survival in dogs.

Veterinary Journal (2015) 203, 74-78

doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.11.008

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