Animal Welfare – Tackling Problems in Pedigree Dog Breeding
Problems in Pedigree Dog Breeding
Pedigree companion animal breeding faces at least three major problems:
- The incidence of certain inherited defects in some breeds seems unacceptably high but is largely unknown.
- Some breed standards and some selection practices run counter to the welfare interests of dogs and cats, to the extent that some breeds are characterised by traits that may be difficult to defend on welfare grounds.
- Little selection pressure seems to be exerted on some traits that would improve animal welfare and produce dogs and cats better suited to modern human living.
Listing of Inherited Disorders in Animals (LIDA) Project
By addressing the first of these issues, the Listing of Inherited Disorders in Animals (LIDA) project will provide a solid basis for breeders to decide on a priority order for disorders to be subjected to control programs, and will allow breeders to make informed approaches to custodians of breed standards.
Pedigree show dogs that are bred with exaggerated physical features to conform to written breed standards or specifications can develop severe genetic health problems but there is much that is unknown.
The initiative, led by Associate Professor Paul McGreevy from the Faculty of Veterinary Science is a three year research project that involves a new electronic system for collecting, analysing, and reporting data on inherited disorders in both dogs and cats. It is important as it will summarise the prevalence of inherited disorders in the UK pedigree dog population for the first time. It will allow these disorders to be monitored, assist breeders to identify trends in inherited disorders and ultimately a comprehensive disease surveillance system that will benefit all companion animal diseases will be developed.
Knowing which disorders are the most prevalent for each breed will inform all subsequent strategies intended to improve the welfare of the Australian pure-bred dog and cat population.
These strategies will include control programs against particular disorders aided, where possible, by DNA tests. Data from the current project will allow the breeding targets for each generation of pure-bred dogs and cats to be focused on quality of life.
It is critical that LIDA is supported as a matter of priority for the following reasons:
- LIDA data will inform the dog and cat breeding communities on the progress of existing disease eradication schemes
- LIDA will be a sustainable surveillance system that will allow the dog and cat breeding communities to assess the progress achieved by subsequent strategies.
- LIDA’s data collection system is sustainable and avoids the risk of respondent fatigue.
This facility will provide breed societies and funding bodies with information that will allow them to generate a prioritised list of behavioural and inherited disorders and to focus their attempts to reduce the incidence of unwelcome traits.
Additionally, we anticipate this project will facilitate the production of similar sites for other species (cats, horses).
Research into Pedigree Dogs Breeding Problems
The results of the research will allow:
- Potential purchasers to make informed decisions when buying companion animals.
- Veterinarians to benefit by being able to provide clients with local current data and by being able to learn from the profession's pooled data.
- Breeders to recognise which unwelcome traits are increasing and which are being successfully reduced.
The major snag is that we need to raise $170,000 to support the project.
The really good news is that in Australia, more than 230 practices have formally agreed to contribute data, and Dogs NSW have kicked the project off with a pledge for $30,000. Thanks Dogs NSW!
For more about the LIDA Project and Professor Paul McGreevy please access http://www.vetsci.usyd.edu.au/lida/
Helping the Research Project
If you are interested in making a donation to help further this research project, please contact the Faculty of Veterinary Science on 9351 5074, complete the donation form (pdf), or alternatively make online donation.