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Inbreeding reduces litter size in golden retrievers - study
Researchers found that, on average, a dam that is 10 per cent more inbred than another will produce one less puppy per litter. 
Breeders urged to maintain diversity in lineages to preserve healthy breeds

Inbreeding in golden retrievers reduces the overall size of the litter, according to new research.

The study, led by the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Study, is one of the first to examine measures of inbreeding in domestic dogs, rather than using pedigree-based estimates.

Conducted with partners at Embark Veterinary Inc, the results have been published in the journal Mammalian Genome.

“This scientifically proves something we’ve known anecdotally for a few years; that fecundity, or the measure of how successfully a dog can reproduce, is threatened by inbreeding,” said Dr. Erin Chu, senior veterinary geneticist at Embark.

“Breeders need to ensure that the dogs they choose to mate maintain diversity in their lineages to preserve healthy and successful breeds.”

In the study, researchers examined DNA and phenotype data from 93 female golden retrievers enrolled in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. All the dogs were reproductively intact and had only been bred once.

They found that the degree to which a dog was inbred influenced the number of puppies it gave birth to. The results show that, on average, a dam that is 10 per cent more inbred than another will produce one less puppy per litter.

Researchers say the finding ‘sets the stage’ for a larger investigation to analyse the genomic regions associated with fecundity and other measures of fitness, such as negative behavior, mortality and longevity.

“There are definite repercussions to being more inbred with every generation and we want to minimise those as much as possible,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, chief scientific officer at the Morris Animal Foundation, “This is something to keep in mind to ensure we have healthy breed populations for years to come.”

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.