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Genetic Tests...Are Mixes Healthier than Purebreds?

It would certainly seem so...every day you hear about how this breed or that breed has some health problem or another. But how can this be? As a breeder I’d like to clarify…the problems didn’t come from the “purebred” in the dog - but were there all along because it’s a DOG. All dog breeds are 99+% the same genetically - and even toys and unusual breeds are 99+% genetically the same as the wolf they are descended from (that’s why they can interbreed). Of course, there are no statics kept on the various mixes and remixes out there...one reason you never hear about the Poodle x Shepherd x Daschund's problems.

Genetic diseases appear because the genes causing the disease are "expressed" - or allowed to do their dirty deeds. Often you’ll find mixes SEEM to be healthier than purebreds and the reason is because of what’s called “hybrid vigor”. In other words, there are special genes that mask or stop other genes from working, so they aren’t expressed. It’s not that the disease genes aren’t there, they are just hidden. Purebreds eliminate a few of these genes so that what you see is what you get – whereas mixes often have the same problems, but  no selection has taken place so the "hiding" genes are still in place -   you may never “see” the disease – but it’s there under the surface. Often it will show up in a 2nd generation (called the F1 generation) when two mixes are bred together. They aren’t getting problems from the purebred - a mix that shows up with a disease just happens to be lacking the gene that hides the problem under the surface. In purebreds, the genes that hide other genes often are elminated due to selecting for certain traits as they appear, and are removed along with the health problems they mask, by selective breeding. 

Just wanted to clarify because there is this perception that mixes don’t get diseases or that purebreds are somehow inferior healthwise – no, they are all the same…it’s the fact that in mixes the problems are hidden behind ‘cloaking’ genes, and not out in the open. A Klingon is still a Klingon even if he’s behind his cloakng device.

The only way to be certain your dog doesn't have the gene for a particular genetic disease is to do a DNA test.  These tests can be done on most mixes as well, but rarely are.  DNA can only tell you if the gene is present - not whether it's masked or hidden.  So since mixes are seldom tested, and the cloaking gene isn't tested for, then of course the Purebred will appear to have more genetic disease. 

The advantage of a purebred dog is that they are DNA tested so you know for sure what's hiding under the cloak.  And reputable breeders will remove dogs with defective genes (and as a side, their cloaker genes) from the breeding pool.However, life is not perfect...sometimes when you try and eliminate the bad gene, all you remove is the cloaking gene.  Sometimes you only remove the bad gene (and the cloaking gene stays put)...but nobody cares when this happens.  With a mix there isn't this removal of one or another type of gene....the cloaking genes continue to live on hiding defects until they reappear in the next generation.  With a purebred, there is the actual elimination of the defect when it appears (assuming you have a responsible breeder who is trying to eliminate it), it's not just hidden for someone else to deal with. 

Contact Laboratory Sources:

1.Alfort School of Veterinary Medicine, France: http://www.labradorcnm.com/
2.Animal Health Trust (England): http://www.aht.org.uk/sci_diag_disc_genetics_dna.html#canine
3.Auburn Univ.--Boudreaux Lab: http://www.vetmed.auburn.edu/index.pl/boudreaux_mk (334-844-2692)
4.Cornell--Goldstein Lab: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/labs/goldstein/ (607-253-4480)
5.Cornell Univ. Comparative Coagulation Lab: http://www.diaglab.vet.cornell.edu/coag/test/hemopwh.asp (607-275-0622)
6.GenMARK: http://www.genmarkag.com/home_companion.php (877-766-3446)
7.HealthGene: www.healthgene.com (877-371-1551)
8.Jefferson Medical College: David.wenger@mail.tju.edu (215-955-1666)
9.Michigan State University-Malamuteerson-Jones Lab.: http://www.cardigancorgis.com/ (517-353-3278)
10.Michigan State University-Fyfe Lab.: http://mmg.msu.edu/faculty/fyfe.htm (517-355-6463x1559)
11.New York University Neurogenetics Laboratory: http://www.pwdca.org/ (212 263-2943)
12.Optigen: www.optigen.com (607-257-0301)
13.PennGen: www.vet.upenn.edu/penngen (215-898-8894)
14.UC-Davis--Lyons Lab.: http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/service/cat/PKD.html (530-752-2211)
15.U Missouri--Johnson Lab: http://www.caninegeneticdiseases.net/ (573)-884-3712)
16.Univ. New South Wales--Wilton Lab: a.wilton@unsw.edu.au
17.U-Fla--Neuro Service: http://neuro.vetmed.ufl.edu/dm_flash_test_web/index.html (352-392-4700 x4700)
18.VetGen: www.vetgen.com (800-483-8436)
19.Washington State U--Meurs Lab: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/deptsVCGL/ (509-335-6038)
20.Washington State U--Pharm Lab: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/announcements/ivermectin/ownerInfo.asp (509-335-3745)

From the AMCA Newsletter 12/2009

DNA Genetic Testing for various Breeds

Disorder

Breeds

Type of
test

Test facility

Canine Leukocyte
Adhesion Deficiency (CLAD)
Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Setter
Direct Optigen
Animal Health Trust
Cataract, Juvenile (Early Onset Hereditary Cataract--EHD) Boston Terrier
French Bulldog
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Direct Animal Health Trust
Ceroid lipofuscinosis Border Collie Direct Animal Health Trust Optigen
Ceroid lipofuscinosis American Bulldog
Dachshund
English Setter
Direct Univ of Missouri
Coat Color and Nose
Color Variation
Australian Shepherd
Border Collie
Brittany
Belgian Shepherd
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Collie (Rough, Smooth)
Cocker Spaniel
Curly-Coated Retriever
Dachshund
Dalmatian
Doberman Pinscher
English Cocker Spaniel
English Setter
English Springer Spaniel
Field Spaniel
Flat-coated Retriever
French Bulldog
German Shepherd
German Longhaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Wirehaired Pointer
Great Dane
Greyhound
Groenendael
Labrador Retriever
Laekenois
Large Munsterlander
Lowchen
Malinois
Newfoundland
Pointer
Pomeranian
Poodle
Portuguese Water Dog
Pudelpointer
Shetland Sheepdog
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Tervuren
WhipMalamute
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Direct HealthGene
Coat Color Gene
Variations
Alaskan Klee Kai
American Cocker Spaniel
Australian Cattle Dog
Border Collie
Curly Coated Retriever
Dalmatian
Doberman Pinscher
English Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
Flat Coated Retriever
Gordon Setter
Labrador Retriever
Newfoundland
Pointer
Poodle
Schipperke
Scottish Terrier
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Direct VetGen
Coat Length (FGF5) Weimaraner Direct Animal Health Trust
Cobalamin Malabsorption (Methylmalonic Aciduria) Australian Shepherd
Giant Schnauzer
Direct PennGen
Cobalamin Malabsorption
(Methylmalonic Aciduria)
Beagle
Border Collie
DSH
Shar Pei
Phenotypic PennGen
Collie Eye Anomaly
(Choroidal Hypoplasia)
Australian Shepherd
Border Collie
Lancashire Heeler
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Rough Coated Collie
Shetland Sheepdog
Smooth Coated Collie
WhipMalamute. Longhair
Direct Optigen
Cone (Retinal) Degeneration German Shorthaired Pointer Direct Optigen
Congenital Hypothyroidism
with Goiter (CHG)
Rat Terrier
Toy Fox Terrier
Direct Michigan State University--Fyfe Lab.
PennGen
Congenital Stationary
Night Blindness (RPE65-CSNB)
Briard Direct Optigen
Animal Health Trust
Copper Toxicosis Bedlington Terrier Direct VetGen
Animal Health Trust
Cyclic Neutropenia
(Grey Collie Syndrome)
Smooth Coated Collie
Rough Coated Collie
Direct HealthGene
Cystinuria Newfoundland
Labrador Retriever
Direct Optigen (Newf only)
PennGen
VetGen (Newf only)
Degenerative Myelopathy
(DM)
German Shepherd Dog (FLASH test)
Boxer (RAPD)
Pembroke Welsh Corgis (RAPD)
Rhodesian Ridgeback (RAPD)

Direct (susceptibility loci) U-Fla--Neuro Service
Factor VII Deficiency Alaskan Klee Kai
Beagle
Scottish Deerhound
Direct PennGen
Factor IX Deficiency
(Hemophilia B)
Airedale Terrier
Bull Terrier
German Wirehaired Pointer Labrador Retriever
Lhasa Apso
Direct Cornell Univ. Comparative Coag. Lab (GWP)
HealthGene (Others)
Factor XI Deficiency Kerry Blue Terrier Direct PennGen
Fanconi Syndrome Basenji Linked Marker U-Missouri
Fanconi Syndrome Basenji
Norwegian Elkhound
Phenotypic PennGen
Fucosidosis English Springer Spaniel Direct PennGen
Animal Health Trust
Glanzmann's
Thrombasthenia (Type I)
Great Pyrenees
Otterhound
Direct Auburn Univ.--Boudreaux Lab.
Globoid cell leukodystrophy Cairn terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Direct Jefferson Medical Coll.
Glycogenosis
(GSD) Type IIIa
Curly Coated Retriever Direct Michigan State University--Fyfe Lab.
Glycogenosis
(GSD) Type IV
Norwegian Forest Cat Direct PennGen
GM1-Gangliosidosis Portuguese Water Dog Direct New York University Neurogenetics Lab
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Maine Coon Cat
Ragdoll
Direct Washington State U--Meurs Lab
Ivermectin Sensitivity
(MDR1)
Australian Shepherd
Collie
Old English Sheepdog
Shetland Sheepdog
Other breeds
Direct Washington State U--Pharm Lab
L-2-HGA
(L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Direct Animal Health Trust
Mannosidosis DSH
Persian
Direct PennGen
Merle Gene (SILV) Australian Shepherds
Beauceron Sheepdog
Border Collie
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Catahoula Leopard Dog
Chihuahua
Cocker Spaniel
Collie
Dachshund
Great Danes
Norwegian Hound
Pitt Bull
Pomeranian
Pyrenean Shepherd
Shetland Sheepdogs
Direct GenMARK
Mucolipidosis II
(I-Cell Disease)

DSH Direct PennGen
Mucopolysaccharidosis
(MPS)
DSH
German Shepherd Dog
Miniature Pinscher
Miniature Schnauzer
Schipperke
Siamese
Direct PennGen
Muscular Myopathy
(Centronuclear myopathy)
Labrador Retriever Direct Alfort School of Veterinary Medicine, France
Myotonia Congenital Miniature Schnauzer Direct Optigen
PennGen
Narcolepsy Dachshund Doberman Pinscher Labrador Retriever Direct Optigen
Neonatal Encephalopathy Standard Poodle Direct U Missouri
Nephropathy
(Hereditary N., Familial N.)
English Cocker Spaniels Direct Optigen
Phosphofructokinase
Deficiency (PFK)
American Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
Direct Optigen
PennGen
VetGen
Animal Health Trust (ESS)
Polycystic Kidney
Disease (PKD)
American Shorthair
Himalayan
Persian
Scottish Fold
Direct UC-Davis--Lyons Lab.
Animal Health Trust
Primary
Hyperparathyroidism
Keeshond Linkage Cornell--Goldstein Lab
Progressive Retinal
Atrophy (cord1)
Dachshund, Miniature Longhaired
English Springer Spaniel
Direct Animal Health Trust
U-Missouri
Progressive Retinal
Atrophy--Dominant
Bullmastiff
(English) Mastiff
Direct Optigen
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (prcd) American Cocker Spaniel
American Eskimo Dog
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Shepherd
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chinese Crested
Cockapoo
English Cocker Spaniel
Entelbucher Mountain Dog
Finnish Lapphund
Golden Retriever
Kuvasz
Labradoodle
Labrador Retriever
Lapponian Herder
Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever
Poodle; Miniature and Toy
Portuguese Water Dog
Spanish Water Dog
Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog
Swedish Lapphund
Direct Optigen
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (rcd1) Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Setter
Sloughi (rcd1a)
Direct Optigen
Animal Health Trust
VetGen (Irish Setter)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (rcd3) Cardigan Welsh Corgi Direct Michigan State Univ.--
Malamuteerson-Jones Lab.
Optigen
VetGen
Progressive Retinal Atrophy--Type A Miniature Schnauzer Direct Optigen
Progressive Retinal Atrophy--X-Linked Samoyed
Siberian Husky
Direct Optigen
Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase Deficiency
(PDH or PDP1)
Clumber Spaniel
Sussex Spaniel
Direct U-Missouri
Animal Health Trust
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PK) Abyssinian
American Eskimo Dog Basenji
Beagle
Cairn Terrier
Chihuahua
Dachshund
DSH
Somali
West Highland White Terrier
Direct Optigen (Basenji)
PennGen (All)
VetGen (Basenji)
Animal Health Trust (Westies)
Renal Dysplasia Lhasa Apso
Shih Tzu
Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier
Linkage VetGen
Retinal Dysplasia--Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy (CMR) Bullmastiff
Coton de Tulear
Dogue de Bordeaux
Great Pyrenees
Mastiff (English and French)
Direct Optigen
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) Bassett Hound
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Direct PennGen
Spinal Muscular Atrophy Maine Coon Cat Direct Michigan State University--Fyfe Lab.
Thrombopathia Bassett Hound
Landseer
Spitz
Direct Auburn Univ.--Boudreaux Lab.
Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome (TNS) Border Collie Linkage Univ. New South Wales
Von Willebrand's Disease Bernese Mountain Dog
Doberman Pinscher
Drentsche Patrijshound
German Pinscher
Kerry Blue Terrier
Manchester Terrier
Papillion
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Poodle
Scottish Terrier
Shetland Sheepdog
Direct VetGen
Von Willebrand's Disease Irish Red and White Setters Direct Animal Health Trust