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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 behaviour, 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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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."