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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparative analyses of genetic trends and prospects for selection against hip and elbow dysplasia in 15 UK dog breeds

Thomas W Lewis1*, Sarah C Blott1 and John A Woolliams2

Author affiliations

1 Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7UU, UK

2 The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Research Centre, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Genetics 2013, 14:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-14-16

Published: 2 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Hip dysplasia remains one of the most serious hereditary diseases occurring in dogs despite long-standing evaluation schemes designed to aid selection for healthy joints. Many researchers have recommended the use of estimated breeding values (EBV) to improve the rate of genetic progress from selection against hip and elbow dysplasia (another common developmental orthopaedic disorder), but few have empirically quantified the benefits of their use. This study aimed to both determine recent genetic trends in hip and elbow dysplasia, and evaluate the potential improvements in response to selection that publication of EBV for such diseases would provide, across a wide range of pure-bred dog breeds.

Results

The genetic trend with respect to hip and elbow condition due to phenotypic selection had improved in all breeds, except the Siberian Husky. However, derived selection intensities are extremely weak, equivalent to excluding less than a maximum of 18% of the highest risk animals from breeding. EBV for hip and elbow score were predicted to be on average between 1.16 and 1.34 times more accurate than selection on individual or both parental phenotypes. Additionally, compared to the proportion of juvenile animals with both parental phenotypes, the proportion with EBV of a greater accuracy than selection on such phenotypes increased by up to 3-fold for hip score and up to 13-fold for elbow score.

Conclusions

EBV are shown to be both more accurate and abundant than phenotype, providing more reliable information on the genetic risk of disease for a greater proportion of the population. Because the accuracy of selection is directly related to genetic progress, use of EBV can be expected to benefit selection for the improvement of canine health and welfare. Public availability of EBV for hip score for the fifteen breeds included in this study will provide information on the genetic risk of disease in nearly a third of all dogs annually registered by the UK Kennel Club, with in excess of a quarter having an EBV for elbow score as well.

Keywords:
Canine; Hip dysplasia; Elbow dysplasia; Estimated breeding value; Selection; Accuracy; Genetic correlation; Heritability; Welfare