Recent breeding history of dog breeds in Sweden: modest rates of inbreeding, extensive loss of genetic diversity and lack of correlation between inbreeding and health

Authors

  • M. Jansson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, Division of Population Genetics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
    • Correspondence

      M. Jansson, Department of Zoology, Division of Population Genetics, Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46 8 16 42 37;

      Fax: +46 8 15 40 41;

      E-mail: mija.jansson@zoologi.su.se

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  • L. Laikre

    1. Department of Zoology, Division of Population Genetics, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
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Summary

One problem in modern dogs is a high occurrence of physical diseases, defects and disorders. Many breeds exhibit physical problems that affect individual dogs throughout life. A potential cause of these problems is inbreeding that is known to reduce the viability of individuals. We investigated the possible correlation between recent inbreeding and health problems in dogs and used studbook data from 26 breeds provided by the Swedish Kennel Club for this purpose. The pedigrees date back to the mid-20th century and comprise 5–10 generations and 1 000–50 000 individuals per pedigree over our study period of 1980–2010. We compared levels of inbreeding and loss of genetic variation measured in relation to the number of founding animals during this period in the investigated dog breeds that we classified as ‘healthy’ (11 breeds) or ‘unhealthy’ (15) based on statistics on the extent of veterinary care obtained from Sweden's four largest insurance companies for pets. We found extensive loss of genetic variation and moderate levels of recent inbreeding in all breeds examined, but no strong indication of a difference in these parameters between healthy versus unhealthy breeds over this period. Thus, recent breeding history with respect to rate of inbreeding does not appear to be a main cause of poor health in the investigated dog breeds in Sweden. We identified both strengths and weaknesses of the dog pedigree data important to consider in future work of monitoring and conserving genetic diversity of dog breeds.

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