The Kennel Club and the Animal Health Trust are undertaking a project aimed at streamlining the way in which we screen DNA from dogs for mutations that cause inherited diseases and also the way in which we identify individual dogs, using their DNA.
Briefly, we are attempting to select a set of genetic markers, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), that will enable parentage testing and DNA profiling, as well as disease mutation testing, to be done more time- and cost-effectively than currently.
We need to know that the SNP markers we select can be used to successfully distinguish individual dogs of all breeds, and for this purpose a reference panel of DNA samples from ~24 dogs of ~ 40 different breeds will be collected (~960 dogs total). The breeds have been selected to cover those with high numbers of KC registrations, a wide range of estimated effective population sizes (to cover very inbred and less inbred populations) and a wide range of breed types/classifications. Within each breed, we have used computer-based optimization techniques to identify a sample of individuals representing the widest possible diversity as measured by their pedigree relationships. This reference DNA panel (ref_DNA_panel) will be used to validate the SNPs selected during the project.
The owners of 200 dogs of 38 different breeds have been contacted and invited to contribute DNA from their dog to this project. We have invited this number of owners because, typically, not everyone who is contacted will respond. Owners willing to participate are invited to contact Aimee Llewellyn at the Kennel Club, via email aimee [dot] llewellynthekennelclub [dot] org [dot] uk or phone 0207 518 1023, to request a DNA swab collection kit.
Below is a copy of the email that has been sent to owners asking them to participate:
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) and the Kennel Club would like to invite you to take part in a project investigating the genetic structure of the [insert breed]. You have been sent this email by the Kennel Club, in conjunction with the AHT, because you are the registered owner of [insert dog name] who is one of a number of dogs selected to represent the breed. Participation will be at no cost to you, as you will be sent a free kit, including a postage paid envelope.
The aims of the project are to streamline the way in which we screen the DNA from dogs for mutations that cause inherited diseases and also the way in which we identify individual dogs, using their DNA.
Some of the dogs whose DNA we receive will go on to be ‘genotyped’. This means we will analyse their DNA for a set of genetic markers distributed around their genome, and also screen them for a number of mutations that are known to cause inherited disorders. If [insert dog name] is one of those genotyped the results will be available to you free of charge, once the project has been completed.
We would like to stress that [insert dog name] has been selected to represent the [insert breed] based on his/her relationship with other dogs of the same breed; we have no expectation that your dog carries any disease mutations or will ever develop an inherited disease.
All information about you and your dog will be kept in the strictest of confidence, at all times, by both the Kennel Club and the investigators at the AHT.
We hope the results will increase our understanding of the genetic structure of breeds considerably, and will ultimately help us develop tools to improve the genetic health of dogs.
We would be delighted if you could help us with our project. Taking part is easy. You simply need to contact Aimee Llewellyn at the Kennel Club via email aimee [dot] llewellynthekennelclub [dot] org [dot] uk or phone 0207 518 1023 to receive a free simple mouth swab kit which contains everything you need to submit a sample. Taking a mouth swab is quick, and completely harmless to your dog. There will be no cost at all involved for participants.
If you would like to help, we would be very grateful if you could contact us for a kit within 4 weeks from receipt of this email.
All the information you provide will be confidential to the investigators at the AHT. No health or personal information about you or your dog will be passed on.
Thank you for taking the time to contribute to our study and for helping us to help pedigree dogs.
Genetics and Health Information Manager