The Greyhoundshow


Greyhound World Congress 2017 – what happened so far…

Filed under: Gesundheit,Standesamt — admin @ 16:03

Reminder: One year ago the 1. Greyhound World Congress took place in Norway. The proceedings can be found here. Besides the general excitement to see Greyhound enthusiasts from all over the world united and the extensive accompanying program Dr. Barbara Kessler’s talk “Greyhound Neuropathy – what lessons to learn?“ caused a stir.
We could suspect clairvoyance on Barbara’s side when we read that sentence from her presentation: „If we don‘t change our breeding strategies, it‘s not the question IF we will face a new recessive disease – but only which one and when…“
Because, even as the congress was held, a new neurological problem in Greyhounds popped up.

A preliminary analysis of affected dogs revealed that a genetic disposition is probable – but not a simple monogenetic recessive mutation as with Greyhound Neuropathy. Barbara Kessler immediately started a research project together with the Institute for Animal Pathology, University of Munich, to get to the bottom of it. Since then owners of 17 affected dogs got in touch with Barbara, there was an active exchange with the some breeders of affected dogs as well.
Unfortunately the further research of that condition is quite difficult – a serial screening of many Greyhounds via MRT would be essential, but this is quite expensive. Fast results, which will lead to the identification of the responsible mutation and maybe to the development of a valid DNA test are therefore NOT to be expected.

But that does not mean the Greyhound breedes cannot do anything at all! What we all could do in order to reduce not only the probability of occurrence of subarachnoideal cysts, but of other problems in the breed like heart diseases, neuropathy or autoimmune disorders as well is the pursuit of more genetic diversity. This demands more awareness of the breeders of that topic, and a sound genetic management. We are living in the 21st century, and we have more tools than ever at our disposal to reach those goals.

On one hand there are the pedigree databases „Greyhound-Data“and „Greyhound Archive“. The latter has only be online since 2017, but contains already data of almost 50,000 Greyhounds. Compared with the Greyhound data (which holds data of more than 2,230,000 mostly racing- or coursing-bred Greyhounds) the Archive provides more options for statistical analyses. Thus you can recall evaluations regarding live span and causes of death. Of course: the more data is collected, the more significant those analyses get. Therefore: Enter your Greyhound’s details like health data and date of death!
Both databases allow for the calculation of the COI and the ancestor loss – for actual dogs as well as for planned litters. This could be an important tool to maintain genetic diversity in the population.

But we must always keep in mind that those are only estimated values, which could provide a false picture – especially if only a few generations are included in the calculation. Because our Greyhounds (regardless from which subpopulation) are so inbred, that even two dogs which do not share one common ancestor in the first few generations may be closer related than half-siblings.

This is why a comparison which the real state seems a sensible thing to do – this opportunity is provided by DNA tests for genetic diversity.
Some Greyhounds have already been tested with the MyDogDNA test, and the results were obvious:
The values for Genetic Diversity of the published show-bred Greyhounds are not more than 20 – 28 %.
For comparison: For the Greyhound breed a median (!) of 31.6 % is stated, for all purebred dogs a median of 33.8 % and for mixed-breed dogs of 43.3 %.
Of course the number of samples is low, but we may suspect that there is not too much genetic Diversity left in the Show Greyhound.

What could be a way out of that misery? At first a fundamental rethinking of common breed practices should take place.
We are lucky to actually find three separate breed under the name “Greyhound”. Thus, we have the opportunity to “outcross” without much ado. Two daring kennels are planning this right now – unfortunately those plans did not work out yet.

But there are ways to at least not further reduce the genetic diversity in the breed – also for the not so daring breeders.
Besides the calculation of COI and ancestor loss for planned matings we could make use of DNA testing for the real genetic diversity of our breeding stock and subsequent matching of those results for the planning of the litter.

One possibility would be the “MyDogDNA” test of the Finnish laboratory Genoscoper
Here 20000 SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) markers are screened, and the result is expressed as “Genetic Diversity”. The more matching alleles a dog carries on those 20.000 SNPs (e.g. the more “homozygeous” it is), the lower his value for “Genetic Diversity”.
This value can then be compared with the rest of the population, with all tested pure-bred dogs and with tested mixed-breed dogs from the database as well. So you will get an impression on how the own dog may be classified, but also about the condition of the population as such.

The “Breeder Tool” provides in addition the possibility to “match” the SNPs of two tested potential mates and thus calculate the expected Genetic Diversity of the future litter.

On top of that, about 200 autosomal recessive hereditary diseases in dogs are tested, as well as the disposition for Malignant Hyperthermia, and color genetics.
Price: 99,- € (20 % off for 10 samples and more)

A slightly different offer is available from the Austrian laboratory Feragen. With the “Diversitätsprojekt” you can test 230.000 SNPs and three DLA Haplotypes. The DLA-Haplotypes are being associated with several autimmune diseases like SLO.
If two potential mates have been tested that way, you can order a report about genetic diversity, DLA types, relatedness and genomic COI. This offer is restricted to genetic diversity only, but provides more accuracy through the higher number of tested markers and the DLA haplotypes.
Price: 199,- €

The increased use of such tests for Show Greyhounds could provide us with an unbiased summary of the actual genetic diversity in our breed. Furthermore, we would have a reliable tool to calculate genetic diversity for future litters.
Both tests can be combined with the ISAG 2006 fingerprint, which will guarantee the integrity of the future litters’ pedigrees (we do this in Germany and France already). Through the knowledge of the DLA haplotypes we could reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases such as SLO.

Wouldn’t that be a nice (and very hands-on!) project for the next Greyhound World Congress? Maybe we could even consider the foundation of an international breed-specific parent organization like the ATIBOX (Association Technique Internationale du Boxer), IHF (Internationale Hovawart Föderation) or IFR (International Federation of Rottweiler Friends), which could lead such a project?
On the other hand: It would be just great if we would not wait this long, but would have moved from information already to collaboration and action by then!

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