Improving Genetic Diversity for the Stabyhoun
Increasingly, it is clear that the Stabyhoun breed, like most others, is in danger. Why? Because the nature of creating a particular breed with a mostly solid-colored head (or a cute blaze in the solid one!) of a certain height, length and weight, with all-rounder qualities and a quirky temperament means that type was heavily selected over genetic diversity. Simply put, but you get the drift. Over time, selective breeding has narrowed the breed founders down to less than 14 dogs.
The ASA has partnered with EMBARK to study what we, as a group and as individual breeders, can do to improve our odds by using our average relatedness of the worldwide Staby population to lower our coefficients of inbreeding in the future. Our Dutch friends in the NVSW are undertaking a study on these genetic diversity issues for both Stabys and Wetterhoun. Many possible solutions will be addressed in producing outcross models as well as searching for "look-alikes" or unused dogs that might add diversity. We have already discovered some purebred material that is at least partially unique and something we can use to build a stronger genetic base. Dogs with genes that are rare in the breed have the highest "genetic value". Similarly, dogs with genes that are common in the breed have low genetic value. Dogs with high genetic value should be prioritized for breeding so rare genes are not lost from the gene pool.
The genomes of dogs that are closely related are more similar to each other than those of dogs that are from unrelated ancestry. The chart to the right is similar to a family tree. It shows clustered dogs on the x and y axis with the center matrix colors showing the relative relatedness of one dog with another. Obviously, the red squares on the diagonal are the most related, as they are the same dog on both the x and y axis! You can see that the clustered dogs (meaning genetically similar) in this case has created two major groups with several minor groups in each. Each branch that touches the matrix is an individual dog. So for example, in the orange cluster in the upper left, there are 4 dogs, and the length of the branches reflect the degree of similarity between them (shorter lines are more similar). Looking to the matrix, the most genetically similar group of dogs is the pale green group (upper left of the matrix). The color of the squares (with the key in the upper left) reflects the degree of genetic similarity between each pair of dogs.
The ASA has negotiated an excellent breeder price with EMBARK of just $129 to analyze each DNA sample (collected by a simple cheek swab). Starting in May 2020, the price for testing all the pups in your litter (4 to 11 pups) is just $99/puppy with this link. Our Breeding Advisors suggest that every Stabyhoun owner consider having their dog's DNA test done by EMBARK. A newborn litter tested will help you make even better choices of which dogs would be best for future breeding so we are adding this requirement for all litters in the ASA.
If you wish to do this test, you should use the current EMBARK password - STABYDNA. The website to visit with that password is embarkvet.com/STABYHOUN.
Please note that the results are sent to you and you alone. The ASA would love to receive the raw data results for your Staby to be included in the genetic study for the breed. The raw data will be the basis for looking at genetic diversity, or the lack thereof in our case, and putting together charts and analyses like the ones on this website. This information will be thoroughly studied against pedigree data to give us guidelines for our breeding program, hopefully worldwide. It also is helpful in research to discover gene mutations that affect the health of our breed. New advances are constantly being made in the field of genetics.
Of course, it is even more beneficial to the breed if you make your health, breed, and trait information public on the EMBARK site so it can be utilized in the new exciting Matchmaker Tool! For a dog to be viewed in Matchmaker:
- The dog must have been DNA tested using an Embark for Breeders DNA Test (and have a breeder account created)
- The dog must be marked as intact on his/her profile
- The owner must have not opted out of the tool--Be sure to go to “Breeder Tools” and then “Dog Settings” to include your dogs in Matchmaker as well as set their health and traits results to public.
- Owner must have set up a "kennel" profile under your main settings tab. This tool is for Breeders, so even without a specific kennel name (use your own name if you don't have a kennel name) you must register as a "breeder".