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.
The ASA would like to cooperate with the Institute of Canine Biology in studying 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 about to undertake a study on possible outcross models as well as searching for "look-alikes" or unused dogs that might add diversity. They may even discover 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 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). Similarly, the most genetically similar group of dogs is the 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 type of information that we can gain for our breed will be like the analyses from early testing on a few Stabys: Please follow this link.
The ASA has negotiated an excellent price with EMBARK of just $129 to analyze each DNA sample (collected by a simple cheek swab) and get the individual results back. Our Breed Advisors suggest that every Stabyhoun owner consider having their dogs DNA test done by EMBARK. This is completely elective -- not a requirement by any means.
If you wish to do this test, you should select the option for $179 (Embark for Breeders: Dog DNA Test w/o breed identification) and enter the coupon code, STABYHUN. Yes, it is misspelled, and the offer is good for all of 2018! If you have a dog of unknown pedigree, you may also use the coupon for the $199 test which includes the breed identification. In both cases, you will receive a discount of $50. You will need to enter your name and address as a "breeder" to qualify for this discount, but you can consider yourself a breeder without any complications!!
Special Offer: As of September 2018, there is a "special offer" for one DNA test swab per owner at the incredible price of just $99. For more information on how to get this offer, write to EMBARK at this email address, <email@example.com>. Please note that the results are sent to you and you alone. If you wish to have your results included in the genetic study, you must share the results with us. Of course, it is only beneficial to the breed if you do share. It is still possible to share without revealing your dog's identity, if that is what you prefer.
The results of this testing 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 described above. This information will be thoroughly studied against pedigree data to give us guidelines for our breeding program, hopefully worldwide.
Of particular interest to the individual dog owner may be the coat color and trait tests that are listed below:
A Locus (Agouti): Ay, Aw, At
B Locus (Brown): B, b
K Locus (Dominant Black): Kb, Ky
*Other traits included are:
Curly Coat (KRT71)
Long Hair (FGF5)
Hind Dewclaws (LMBR1)
Body Size (IGF1, IGF1R, GHR, STC2)
For both pure and mixed breed dogs, Embark provides you with a coefficient of inbreeding at the chromosome level, which is a measure of how closely related the ancestors of your dog were, and immune diversity at the Dog Leukocyte Antigen DQA1-DQB1 and DRB1 loci. We also learn the Y haplotype and the Mitochondrial Haplotypes which are especially helpful in finding some rarer genes in our population.
Knowing the coat color -- having brown or tri-color genes like a few of our Stabys will make mating choices easier. We will also learn whether or not your Staby is a possible carrier of von Willebrand disease, or a few other genetic mutations. The tests do look at degenerative myelopathy, which is currently found genetically, but rarely clinically in our breed; the genetics of DM appear to be more complex than originally believed. It is not a simple single-gene trait. You should read this for background so you understand
the current state of our understanding. (See The lesson(s) from SOD1 and degenerative myelopathy).
These are currently the only DNA markers that have been discovered for our breed, other than the Cerebral Dysfunction DNA test, which is still a non-peer reviewed test so must be done separately. The BAC will still require that test for all possible carriers of CD and who are breeding. We do hope that when the research done by the University of Utrecht on Cerebral Dysfunction in 2016 is peer reviewed, hopefully soon, this DNA test can be included in the DNA testing done by EMBARK. We would also like to include the ISAG 2006 parentage markers, so it would be "one stop" for all required tests and much more data on the breed can be gained.