Cornell website helps predict dog joint health before breeding

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ITHACA, N.Y. – Selective breeding may have produced a beautiful variety of dog breeds, but it has also left many varieties with a legacy of genetic disease. To combat this trend, Cornell University researchers have launched the Cornell Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) website, the country’s first breeding value database, where the public can find the propensity for a hip and elbow dysplasia (malformation) of more than a million individual registered purebred dogs and designer dogs, such as labradoodles.

“We are providing an opportunity to improve selection and heath of pure breed dogs, for breeding and purchasing, based on their genetic potential for important qualities like good hip and elbow conformation,” said Dr. Rory Todhunter, an orthopedic surgeon at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine who launched the site with his colleagues.

The site provides estimated breeding values and the accuracy of the estimate derived from statistical models that combine dogs’ pedigree relationships with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hip and elbow scores.

By combining a large data set of both pedigree information and hip elbow scores the site can statistically derive an estimate of a dog’s genetic quality. Beyond hip and elbow scores, the registry also contains some information about other conditions, such as patella luxation and thyroid and cardio conditions, and other qualities, such as color and behavior.

“People have been doing this in animal and plant breeding for the last three or four decades,” said Todhunter. “When people breed cattle, pigs, poultry and plants, they do so based on the same statistical methodology we’re using. Gathering and using genetic information this way will benefit breeds in the long run. This tool puts us one step closer to making healthier individuals.”

Anyone can access Cornell’s site (http://www.vet.cornell.edu/research/bvhip) after a brief free registration. One can search for individual dogs by registered name, American Kennel Club registration number or OFA number. Beyond individual data, there is a synthetic mating button that allows users to choose two dogs, and the algorithm calculates the likely genetic quality of their hypothetical offspring.

 

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews. For additional information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

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