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Effect on genetic diversity of inbreeding in pedigree dogs

T. W. Lewis, B. M. Abhayaratne, S. C. Blott

INBREEDING is widely viewed as being harmful to the wellbeing of individuals and populations, but is inevitable in closed populations with a finite number of ancestors and where there is selection, such as pedigree dog populations. It is therefore important that the rate of inbreeding is managed to sustainable levels to avoid its detrimental effects. This study analysed data concerning all 215 breeds recognised by the UK Kennel Club over the period 1980 to 2014 to ascertain the rate of loss of genetic diversity due to inbreeding.

The number of registered animals born was recorded and the total number of unique sires used was determined for each year covered by the study. Inbreeding coefficients for all animals in each breed were calculated, and mean inbreeding coefficients were plotted against year of birth of the animal. The rate of inbreeding per year was calculated, and this was then multiplied by the breed mean generation interval (ie, the mean age of parents at the birth of progeny which themselves go on to reproduce) to give the rate of inbreeding per generation. The effective population size was also calculated for each breed over the study period.

The authors note that …

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