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THE PROBLEM: The negative health consequences of extreme inbreeding in animal health are well known. However, selecting breeding stock in closed populations like golden retrievers involves some degree of inbreeding for desirable characteristics. Dog breeders and owners need clarification and show interest in safely inbreeding such populations with minimal health consequences. 

To date, no study has focused on a large cohort of genetically and clinically characterized dogs from a single breed to establish what role, if any, differences in inbreeding have in the health and longevity within a breed. This crucial information is needed to develop breeding guidelines and give breeders the information they need to properly balance the desire for outcrossed litters with other breeding goals.  

THE PROJECT: To help answer these questions, researchers will study genetic and other data from dogs enrolled in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. The team will calculate genomic inbreeding coefficients for every dog enrolled in the Study to determine the impact of inbreeding on the health and longevity of these animals. The team will also look at outside variables, including diet and exercise, to gauge their influence on the health outcomes of dogs in the Study.    

POTENTIAL IMPACT: While this study focuses on a single breed, researchers hope results can be broadly and consistently applied across dog breeds and help answer a long-running debate in dog breeding circles. Findings will help inform breeding practices in many breeds and working dog groups to improve the overall health of these animals.   

Study ID
D24CLP- 201
Study Status
Start Date
Grant recipient
Cornell University
Study country
United States
Adam Boyko, PhD
Study category