News      Health

What is being done about inbreeding?

21 July 2014    15:00
Mate Select
 

Inbreeding, put simply, is the mating of related individuals. High levels of inbreeding can impact the health of individual dogs, as it could increase the chances of a dog being at risk for both known and unknown inherited disorders. It can also have an impact on the breed as a whole, for example, a reduction in litter size and fertility.

Mate Select - Inbreeding Coefficient calculators

The Kennel Club's Mate Select offers a range of online services, including three inbreeding coefficient calculators, which allow breeders to measure the degree of inbreeding, or Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) and make informed health decisions prior to breeding. These calculators use pedigree information stored on the Kennel Club's database to calculate the COI.

  • Breed Inbreeding Coefficient - allows breeders to find out the current average inbreeding coefficient for any of the 215 Kennel Club recognised breeds and what the value means.
  • Individual Inbreeding Coefficient - allows breeders to observe the calculated inbreeding coefficient of an individual dog and compare it with the breed average. Breeders can also look up the health tests for the dog they have searched for from this point.
  • Mating Inbreeding Coefficient - breeders can check the predicted inbreeding coefficients of litters potential puppies that could be produced from a hypothetical mating of their desired sire and dam. They can also view the health tests of the sire and dam.

Kennel Club advice

Inbreeding is just one of the factors to consider in dog breeding. The Kennel Club recommend that breeders breed at or below the breed average inbreeding coefficient, but also to balance their decision well when choosing a mate for their dog, taking other factors such as health tests and temperament into consideration.

The Kennel Club stresses to breeders that the inbreeding coefficient is a measurement of risk and does not guarantee that puppies produced will or will not have any inherited health conditions.

Education

Breeder Education seminars have been run by the Kennel Club, in conjunction with Royal Canin, for some time and are currently running from now until the end of the year.  The aim of these seminars is to provide and share health related knowledge for dog breeders. One of the topics available is the science behind Mate Select and population genetic principles, including inbreeding. 

The Kennel Club have recently produced two new information guides, one of which is 'Breeding for Health'. This information guide includes information about inbreeding, what it is and how it can impact health, and how to use Kennel Club online resources to breed responsibly with regards to inbreeding and health.

Registration restrictions

To help reduce the highest degrees of inbreeding, the Kennel Club does not register puppies produced from a mating between father and daughter, mother and son, or brother and sister, save in rare exceptional circumstances for scientifically proven welfare reasons.

Animal Health Trust population analysis

The population structure of breeds may contribute to an increased rate of inbreeding. If breeding is occurring within a small population, all members of the breed will trace back to a small number of founders. Over generations, these breed members can become more and more related to each other, leading to an accumulation of inbreeding over time. The Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) is currently investigating how population structure of breeds may be contributing to the rate of inbreeding.

This research will improve our understanding of population structures, improving any breed-specific advice in the future.

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