dogs

Results from the largest-ever study of its kind show genetic testing can predict if a dog is at risk for developing certain diseases.

The research — based on testing technology that can be used at home — is the first to show the genetic diseases mixed-breed dogs are most likely to develop. 

The study also shows that fewer mixed-breed dogs than purebreds are affected by the most common disease-causing mutations tested in the study. 

Why is this important? 

Knowing a dog’s disease-related genetic make-up could enable owners, breeders and veterinarians to make more informed decisions about a dog’s health. 

“There has been a long-standing perception that mixed-breed dogs are less disease-prone than purebred dogs,” said Cindy Cole, general manager at Wisdom Health. “This DNA-testing-based evidence shows that while mixed-breed dogs are in fact less likely than purebreds to develop the recessive disorders evaluated in the study, they may still be carriers.”

The tests are available to veterinarians, breeders and owners.

The researchers tested for 152 diseases and found:

• Approximately two out of 100 mixed-breed dogs are at risk of becoming affected and 40 out of 100 are carriers for at least one of the diseases.

• Approximately five out of 100 purebred dogs are at risk of becoming affected and 28 out of 100 are carriers for at least one of the diseases.

The research also showed that through healthy breeding practices, which often include genetic testing, some diseases appear to have been eradicated from breed pools.

So, with the management of inherited disorders through the use of DNA testing and sustainable breeding decisions, the incidence of genetic diseases in dogs can be decreased. 

For example, X-linked Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, a mutation originally found in basset hounds, appears to have been eradicated.

“For owners, understanding for which genetic diseases their dog is at risk can help them and their veterinarians design a personalized care and wellness program for their dog,” said Jonas Donner, chief scientific officer at Genoscoper. “More broadly, for veterinarians to understand which disorders are common across the overall population is extremely valuable information for the future of proactive medical care.”

The study, “Frequency and distribution of 152 genetic disease variants in over 100,000 mixed breed and purebred dogs,” was published in PLOS Genetics and conducted by Wisdom Health, a division of Mars Petcare, and Genoscoper Laboratories, a Finnish technology company acquired by Mars.

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