Brittany DNA Sample Collections
by Gordon Theilen, DVM

Several questions have come up about Brittany DNA Sample collections. The following is intended to help answer questions for the large number of Brittany persons representing UCD Genetics Lab, who are collecting DNA samples.

1) These samples go into the Brittany DNA Bank established at UCD Davis, Veterinary Genetics Laboratory for future and present research purposes. For any DNA problem being investigated it often takes hundreds of samples to find the gene or gene marker being sought. The main reason for the large number of samples needed.

2) When ever possible, AKC or Am. Field, or other Registry organization number is requested with sire and dam. When a problem is being sought, the quickest way to find Carrier Dogs and finding gene markers is by following family pedigrees. Thus, the reason for the question and needed information. As much information as possible about any dog collected is of value. Those that are collecting samples from dog families and new litters are of huge value.

3) The owner or breeder may not wish such information to become public, then such persons should fill out needed information and send it to the lab themselves. ALL INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL. THE LAB IS NOT INTO EXPOSING INFORMATION ABOUT CERTAIN DOGS OR BREEDERS. IT IS OBVIOUS THIS IS ALWAYS LEFT TO THE OWNER OR BREEDER TO DISCUSS OPENLY.

4) Sample from any Brittany is being collected, even if the registration is not known and even if it is a cross breed. That should be indicated when known and what other breed/breeds the cross was created.

5) Rescue dogs are heavily involved because the Rescue folks are most often able to indicate the dog has a problem, thus it is usually a dog that is affected with a known genetic problem. In addition, Rescue people have been extremely dedicated in getting samples to the Bank. Many rescue dogs are affected with aggression, a main study at present in our lab. For sample collection from dogs with aggression, unclotted blood sample is requested. In those cases, please ask the veterinarian collecting the samples to waive the costs of collection as these samples are for research, or ask the owner to pay for collection. This brings up the reason why we desperately need donations to the Marvin Nelson Jr. Fund for Brittany DNA Samples so we could have money available for such costs. At the present we have not allowed money donated to the Fund be used until it grows substantially in amount that interest from the endowed fund will support needed research. We now have $30,000 and all interest has been returned to the fund.

6) These samples can not be used to certify dog identification required by AKC and American Field. We are hoping some arrangement can be made that some day this will be possible. Yes, we can identify a dog that has its DNA banked at UCD, but for commercial reasons, AKC and Am. Fld. will not allow us becoming involved in dog identity certification. THESE SAMPLES ARE STRICTLY FOR PRESENT AND FUTURE RESEARCH, or in cases where parentage is needed for some personal reason.

All DNA samples submitted to the UCD Veterinary Genetics Laboratory are confidential between the lab personnel and owner/breeder and not open information. It is up to the owner/breeder, if so desired,to let others know about knowledge of suspected or known carrier dogs for what ever problem has been indicated.

Every dog that every hits the ground has some defective genes. It should be our goal to diminish chances that these defective genes are combined with similar defective genes at time of mating to be inherited by offspring. We have not been real effective in control of CHD, Penn Hip joint laxity, epilepsy, under and over shot jaws, cleft palate, hypothyroidism, deafness, adult cataracts, and cruciate ligament tear, to mention a few leaders of concern. We have to get serious about our goals as a breed and genetic improvement. We should have a 10 year goal to effectively diminish these problems. Good breeders for the most part have effectively diminished CHD, an achievement that should receive strong accolades, but this represents a small fraction of the entire Brittany breeding programs. Many dogs in competition are regularly radiographed for either OFA, Penn Hip or both, but the majority of other breeders often do not even know about hip, elbow, eye, etc certifications. We have a long way to go and some how we have to get to all Brittany breeders information for improvement of breeding strategies.

Pen Hip and OFA are no better than records kept by the breeder and knowledge gained from each litter of pups. All should encourage when selling a pup that one or the other or both of these procedures be done on or around 6 months of age and then the breeder will be aware if one or both of the parents are carriers. Little progress will be made if only individuals that reach breeding age are certified, thus, there will be less known using the "art of breeding" which dogs are carriers. Reason we all must support the Brittany DNA Bank, so as time and money permits gene markers to be found in the rapidly advancing science of canine genetics.

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