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  • Dennis Hammett

UC Davis Diversity Testing for Llewellins

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

How do you handle a high quality setter that has produced genetic problems? Well it depends on the type, severity and mode of inheritance. But the common answer is “breed away” from the line and close relatives. But will pedigrees give us enough information? We now have a powerful tool with genetic diversity testing, adding important information on relatedness, which we can incorporate into our breeding decisions.


And for buyers, as they become aware of testing, will shop for progressive breeders using it.

DNA testing is not going to replace a practiced eye and years of experience of veteran breeders but it will be a powerful tool, enabling the use of genetic informion to improve the efficiency, and predictabilit y of selection and lower risks of genetic maladies.

With a cheek swap we can test for many genetic disorders, indentify mutations, estimate the amount of inbreeding, and determine the amount of genetic similarity between potential pairs considered for mating. We can also genetically profile an entire breed, examining diversity and discovering distinct subgroups to aid in conservation. For breeders who embrace new DNA technology this is the opening of a whole new era, revolutionizing canine selection and breeding.


Livestock producers have incorporated it into breeding decisions decades ago as has the performance horse aficionados.


Natural selection includes a universal instinct to breed for diversity. In nature, healthy populations of animals have free choice and invariably will choose the least related mates. With domesticated animals, such as the dog, we took away choice. And in many cases, purposely inbred them using techniques such as line breeding. Now we have the tools with the UC Davis test to offer less related dogs and still select for traits we prefer in conformation and performance. We know that pedigrees don’t give us enough information to know which is less related, but with genetic data w


For breeders who embrace new DNA technology this is the opening of a whole new era, revolutionizing canine selection and breeding.


As genetic variation is progressively reduced it becomes more and more difficult to make improvements in performance, fitness and a reduction in genetic maladies. The answer is to outcross with less related individuals creating heterosis or hybrid vigor. The UC Davis Genetic Diversity program for Llewellins will give us the data to make informed breeding decisions, improving our “lines” and the future of our breed.


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