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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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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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News Shorts
BEVA survey seeks views about antibiotic use in horses

Equine vets are being invited to participate in a BEVA survey that aims to find out more about antimicrobial resistance in equine veterinary practice.

Designed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and incoming BEVA president Tim Mair, the survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge about how antimicrobials are being used in equine practice and the landscape of resistant infections encountered in equine practice.

Researchers hope the results will lead to a greater understanding of the role of antimicrobial treatment and antimicrobial resistance in horses and protect antibiotics for the future of equine and human health.