Canine Genetics Research
We will consider investigating any inherited canine disorder that has a negative impact on the health, well-being or quality of life of dogs. The choice of diseases that we study is largely driven by the dog owners and breeders we talk to and also the clinicians we liaise with. We cannot successfully investigate any inherited condition without the co-operation and collaboration of the dog owning and breeding community.
Find out which projects we are currently working on and how you can help with our investigations.
We have completed a number of successful research projects which now allow dog breeders to detect various inherited diseases in their breed.
INVESTIGATIONS BY BREED
Find out if we are currently investigating, or have already developed a DNA test for, inherited diseases in your breed.
KENNEL CLUB GENETICS CENTRE
The KCGC at the AHT is a collaboration aiming to prevent suffering in purebred dogs caused by inherited diseases.
Meet our Canine Genetics team; the people behind the fantastic science carried out in the Kennel Club Genetics Centre.
WHY DNA TEST YOUR DOG?
There are several reasons to DNA test your dog, so we've summarised the most important ones.
The process we use to investigate an inherited disease is more or less the same, regardless of the disease, and always starts with DNA sample collection.
To study any disease we require a certain number of DNA samples from dogs that are affected with the disease (cases) and dogs of the same breed that are unaffected (controls). The number of cases and controls that we need samples from varies between diseases, and depends on several factors such as the mode of inheritance and the number of genes that are likely to be involved, but is usually between 24 and 100.
All the DNA we use in our research is collected using simple cheek swabs that owners can take themselves. We will usually ask for written confirmation that a dog is affected, such as a letter from the dog’s vet or a copy of his/her eye examination report. For some diseases we will also need confirmation that the controls are truly clear of disease, such as a clear eye examination report, although for some conditions it will be sufficient for the owner to tell us the dog is not affected (e.g. epilepsy).
FOLLOW UP INFORMATION
The AHT always welcomes updated health information about any dogs we have stored DNA from, and particularly when there has been a change in clinical status relating to a heritable condition, such as developing cataracts, epilepsy or some other inherited disorder.
This information can be vitally important to a particular study when our researchers are analysing this particular individual’s DNA among others. Equally so, it is important to let us know if a dog is still healthy many years after sample submission, as older healthy dogs to can be used as study controls. Typically there would be a desired lower limit on the age for best use as a control, but this will vary depending on the condition being studied.
We store DNA from large numbers of dogs of all breeds, for the purposes of undertaking genetic studies of various inherited canine conditions. Within the databank we currently hold approximately 28,000 samples comprised from over 200 dog breeds.
Information pertaining to individual dogs is kept completely confidential, and is only shared, on rare occasions, with scientific collaborators when confidentiality agreements are in place. Owner’s details are never shared with anybody who is not an AHT employee.
Whether it’s for a specific genetic condition or to simply archive samples in the event that heritable problems may arise within a breed at a later date, the AHT is happy to assist breed clubs and owners alike. DNA can be collected using buccal (cheek) swabs, which is non-invasive, painless for the dog and simple and convenient for the owner to obtain.
Providing the instructions are followed it is usual to collect enough high-quality DNA for most research purposes via this collection method. Home Office regulations restrict the drawing of blood for non-diagnostic purposes, and if solely intended for research has to be performed under a specific license. However, if a dog is having blood drawn for a veterinary procedure then a vet is permitted to donate any residual blood, preserved in EDTA, for research purposes.
To request a DNA collection kit, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org