Many dog breeds suffer from inherited diseases and genetic defects due to excessive inbreeding rates. Breeding experts of Wageningen UR Livestock Research support dog breed associations in breeding healthy dogs, in collaboration with the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands and the Dutch Rare Breeds Trust. Recently the experts analysed relatedness and inbreeding in 10 dog breeds.
Causes of inbreeding
Inbreeding is often caused by the use of a limited number of male dogs (show champions for example). Then in later generations unavoidably offspring of these males have to be mated. For example, in the Wetterhoun, the Golden Retriever and in the Collie Rough this resulted in high inbreeding rates. In the Markiesje and Hollandse Smoushond a good breeding strategy avoided excessive use of popular sires. However, the small population of these two breeds creates a risk for inbreeding related problems. In the Stabijhoun, the Drentse Patrijs and the Saarlooswolfhond the inbreeding problems are also caused by a limited number of founder animals at the time of breed creation. In the Hollandse Herdershond and to a lesser extend in the Dachshund the subdivision of the population in different varieties bred in isolation contributes to inbreeding.
Wageningen UR Livestock Research not only analyses causes of inbreeding but advises how to decrease problems of inbreeding as well. The policy to use breeding animals from outside the populations (look-alikes) must be continued in the Markiesje and Hollandse Smoushond population. In the Collie Rough the use of breeding animals from foreign populations can have a positive effect. A general advise, effective in all breeds, is to promote animals for breeding, which have a lower mean kinship to the whole population than other animals. This strategy decreases inbreeding rates and significantly reduces the probability of future genetic diseases and defects.