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 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 addresses in producing outcross models as well as searching for "look-alikes" or unused dogs that might add diversity. We 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 ASA has negotiated an excellent price with EMBARK of just $139 to analyze each DNA sample (collected by a simple cheek swab). Our Breed Advisors suggest that every Stabyhoun owner consider having their dog's DNA test done by EMBARK. This is completely elective -- not a requirement by any means. A newborn litter tested will help you make even better choices of which dogs would be best in the future for breeding.
If you wish to do this test, you should contact the ASA for the current EMBARK password. 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 will receive an anonymous version of your results to include in the genetic study for the breed. Of course, it is more beneficial to the breed if you do share the name and registration data with us, as that can be used to propose good possible matches for your Staby. 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.