Kennel Club welcomes study looking at health of all dogs

A new study on the prevalence of inherited disorders among American mixed breed and purebred dogs has negated the common assumption that a mixed breed dog is always healthier than a purebred dog.

The Kennel Club welcomes the study by Bellumori et al. (2013), which was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, in which the medical records of over 27,000 dogs collected from a 15 year period at the University of California-Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital were evaluated for 24 known genetic disorders such as cancer, heart, eye, gastro-intestinal, and osteo- (bone) diseases.

The study indicated that any dog's risk of a specific inherited disease is more likely to be influenced by which disease you are looking at, rather than by the risk of being a specific breed.

Of the 24 different disorders assessed, 13 had no significant difference in the mean proportion of purebred and mixed breed dogs, when matched by age, sex, and body weight. This includes some diseases that had previously been associated predominantly with purebred dogs, such as osteosarcoma, mitral valve disease, hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation.

10 of the disorders assessed did seem to be a higher risk in purebred dogs compared to mixed breed dogs, which is extremely helpful data to guide the canine health community in prioritising conditions where there is a possibility of prevention.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary explained: "This will ultimately impact all dogs, as there were no conditions found solely in purebred dogs. In addition, there was no single breed that was over-represented as a higher risk in the 10 disorders assessed.

"Of the cancers assessed, specifically, there was no significant difference in risk between purebred and mixed breed dogs. Overall, the results indicated that genetic disorders were individual in their expression throughout the whole dog population, and that for some specific conditions there was a distinction between purebred and mixed breed dogs, and for other conditions, there was no difference to risk at all.             

"We hope that the study will help people to make the right choices when buying a puppy and ask for relevant health checks no matter if they are purebred dogs or crossbreed dogs."

The Kennel Club feels that the study shows that the authors were careful to try to mitigate the difficulty in collecting and evaluating this data. They recognised the complex nature of this work, and made every effort to ensure that the dogs that they name as purebred and those that were mixed breed were representative of what that is understood to mean - i.e. they used AKC status as part of defining a dog as 'purebred'.           

The author's final comments on the work indicated that they feel there is a very positive future for improving all dogs' health - both purebred and mixed breed dogs - through utilisation of appropriate genetic tests and screening and responsible breeding practices.

Reference: Bellumori et al., 2013, Prevalence of inherited disorders among mixed breed and purebred dogs: 27,254 cases (1995-2010), JAVMA, Vol 242, No 11.

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