Tackling inherited diseases

As in humans, any dog can be vulnerable to disease. However, there are certain dog breeds that are known to be prone to particular hereditary conditions that can affect their quality of life.

Over the last decade huge advances have been made in the field of canine genetics that are enabling breeders to reduce or eliminate these diseases. These advances started with the sequencing of the entire genome in 2004. Since then it has become much easier for scientists to develop DNA tests that enable breeders to test their dogs for inherited diseases, so that they can avoid breeding from those dogs that are affected, ensuring that only healthy genes are passed down through the generations.

What the Kennel Club is doing to help eliminate inherited diseases in dogs

The Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust is embracing the science that is now available and is leading pioneering research into inherited diseases in dogs. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has invested £1.2 million to investigate the mutations responsible for inherited diseases and to develop DNA tests. It was the development of a DNA test that enabled breeders to breed away from, and eventually eliminate CLAD (Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency), in Irish Setters. This was an inherited immunodeficiency condition which affects the white blood cells ability to fight infection and caused early death in puppies.  Five different mutations associated with diseases in 20 breeds of dog have now been identified and DNA tests for them have now been developed.

The Kennel Club has also worked with the British Veterinary Association since the 1960s to develop health screening tests for hip end elbow dysplasia and eye disease.

What breeders can do to help eliminate inherited diseases in dogs

Breeders are now able to find out whether their dog is clear or carries a mutation for an inherited disease by supplying DNA to the AHT genetic services laboratory through a simple cheek swab. Breeders can then make responsible decisions about which dogs to mate, and choose to mate healthy dogs so that future generations are not affected.

What puppy buyers can do to help eliminate inherited conditions

Puppy buyers are encouraged to bring about change in the dog breeding world by only buying from responsible breeders. There is no legal requirement for breeders to health test their dogs but the Kennel Club strongly recommend puppy buyers to only go to breeders who do so.

The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is the only one in the country that sets standards for and monitors breeders and amongst the requirements of the scheme is the need for breeders who are members of the scheme to health test their dogs for any relevant conditions (you can find Assured Breeders here). The Kennel Club is lobbying the government to make such requirements mandatory for all breeders. Puppy buyers are strongly advised to always buy from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

Puppy buyers are also able to find the health test results for every Kennel Club registered dog online, so that they can see which health tests have been carried out and the results of these tests. Health test results for Kennel Club registered dogs can be found here.

Useful tools

The Kennel Club Breed Information Centre contains information about the health tests that are available for different breeds, the Kennel Club health test results finder and links to Kennel Club Assured Breeders who carry out these important tests.


Tools & Services

Related Topics

Inherited Eye Disease DNA Screening Breed Health
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