Genetic TestingGenetic testing can be carried out in order to discover information about your pet. A DNA or genetic code contains a whole set of ​​data. You can do genetic testing simply by collecting your dog’s DNA sample and running a test that provides you with information about your dog’s genetic makeup.

It may seem unusual to perform genetic testing on dogs, but it has been frequently used for dogs over the last twenty years. With the advancement of science and technology, this test has become more affordable. This test’s importance has grown, as it provides early detection of diseases and many other essential details.

What is Genetic Testing?

Genetic testing is defined as a medical test with the help of understanding the changes in chromosomes, proteins, and genes. The result of the genetic test helps to identify any genetic disorders that are transmitted or developed.

Why is DNA Testing Necessary?

Various genetic tests help us understand what we can identify and how we can manage genetic diseases. During the last century, the development of new breeds of dogs has increased. As studies have confirmed, there are more than 400 confirmed genetic breeds of dogs, and these breeds have their own unique morphological and behavioral characteristics.

Due to natural selection and inbreeding techniques, problems such as hereditary diseases and shallow genetic diversity appear in dogs. However, these inherited diseases can be detected with the help of DNA tests. 

Some genetic tests measure only the phenotype or physical traits of dogs. Only a small number of genes control the physical appearance of the dog. Auscultation for heart murmurs, detection of cataracts, urinalysis for crystals, x-rays of the hip and elbow, observations of behavioral traits, and biopsy of sebaceous adenitis are all phenotypic tests. These tests primarily identify the affected individual and not the carrier animal.

Various genetic tests have been performed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and these tests can measure the dog’s genotype. These genetic tests can be done at any age, whether the disorder is present or not.

With genotype tests, breeders can obtain information about the carrier, the affected animal, and the genetically normal. Genetic testing is done to determine the genotype or individual gene that may be the direct cause of the disease. Some tests also provide information on susceptible genes that can aid in disease formation.

DNA testing also helps determine the pedigree of animals. It is challenging for dog experts to assess mixed breed pedigrees because there is more than one combination in mixed breeds than purebred dogs.

For example, if two black mixed dog breeds with a recessive light-colored gene in their genetic makeup are crossed, they can produce offspring that may have a different physical appearance than their parents. Only 2% of genes have been found to control dogs’ physical appearance, and it is essential to understand the function of recessive and dominant genes.

The dominant gene requires only one copy to display its traits. In contrast, recessive genes need two copies, one from each parent, to achieve the relevant quality.

Additionally, genetic testing also helps to find the genetic disorder that occurs most frequently in mixed and purebred dog breeds, as ThePets resource shows. Common diseases that can be identified are elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, patella luxation, inherited forms of cancer, allergic skin diseases, cataracts, epilepsy, etc. congenital heart disorders. However, some other conditions are breed-specific and related to purebreds.

What is Needed for Genetic Testing? 

Genetic TestingGenetic testing can be performed on a sample of any cell in the body that has a nucleus. For genetic testing, a small sample is collected from your pet; most commonly, the sample is taken with the help of a nylon brush brushed inside the dog’s cheek to collect the epithelial cell sample.

The sample is then delivered to the laboratory for genetic analysis. Some vets prefer to obtain a blood sample from the dog because, in that case, they can be more confident that it contains a large enough amount of DNA.

The estimation shows that large-scale DNA test analysis will soon be routinely performed rather than running a single test. This full-scale test will cover all thirty-nine pairs of dog chromosomes that include 2.4 billion nucleotides. This test will identify the genetic sequence and other risks associated with inherited diseases.

To get the best result from the DNA test, it is essential to ensure that your dog has not drunk, eaten, or been in contact with other animals two hours before the test. After the collected samples are sent to the lab, the veterinarians will extract the DNA. Then the computer will compare this DNA with the algorithm in the database. DNA processing time can vary, but, on average, results are available after six weeks.

Methods Used for Genetic Testing 

There are three different methods for performing genetic testing on dogs. They are:

  • Molecular Genetic Test

In this test, a small length of DNA or a single gene is studied to identify the mutation or variation that facilitates the genetic disorder.

  • Biochemical Genetic Tests

It is a test used to study the level of activity or the amount of protein because abnormalities can produce changes in the DNA and result in a genetic disorder.

  • Chromosomal Genetic Testing

This test helps to analyze the length of the DNA or chromosome. It is analyzed for significant genetic changes in the genes, for example, an extra copy of a chromosome that can lead to a particular disease.

How DNA Testing Helps in Overcoming Genetic Disorders

DNA testing helps overcome certain recessive and dominant disorders. Some of them are: 

  • Autosomal Recessive Disorders

Genetic TestingSuppose the test has identified that the dog is a carrier of a simple autosomal recessive disorder. In that case, your veterinarian’s recommendation is to test the breeding-quality stock and cross normal testing animal with the carrier breed. This prevents the offspring from being affected by this problem.

However, to eliminate this recessive disorder, a typical animal replaces the carrier-breeding animal with qualities equal to or superior to those of the breeder. This will help reduce the frequency of faulty genes and lessen the breed’s problem as a whole.

Dr Joanna Woodnutt MRCVS, a veterinarian for All About Cats and We’re All About Pets, says:

“Most DNA tests look for autosomal recessive disorders. Autosomal recessive genes cause conditions such as Collie Eye Anomaly and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Testing for these genes is beneficial for breeders, as it allows them to choose healthy breeding animals, and some of these tests are compulsory if the puppies are to be Kennel Club registered. Even if you are breeding one litter, you should consider asking your vet about the DNA tests that are recommended for your breed to ensure you don’t inadvertently cause problems with the puppies.”

  • Autosomal Dominant Disorders

In the case of autosomal dominant genetic disorders, there is no significant problem because it is easy to manage. The affected animal must have an affected parent, but half of the offspring are free of defective gene problems.

In this case, after testing, the vet’s recommendation is not to breed affected animals. To produce the next perfect generation, either an average parent is used, or a regular sibling of an affected animal is used.

  • Sex-linked Disorders

In the case of sex-related problems, also known as X-linked problems, a male who has faulty recessive genes used for reproduction may lose the defective gene in his next generation. It can happen because the male has received all the faulty genes from his mother. She can pass these genes on to his daughters but not to his sons.

In high-risk affected females, there is a high risk of producing affected males because they will receive their mother’s affected gene. DNA testing in such a case helps to create quality offspring.

The Benefits of DNA Testing

There are many benefits of dog DNA testing, and these benefits can help dog owners overcome specific problems.

  • DNA Tests Give Knowledge About Breeds

If DNA testing is done before mating, it will inform the owner of genetic conditions that may occur, and this information can help develop a health care plan to avoid costly bills.

  • Identify Potential Personality Traits

This field has grown in recent years and provides information on the genes involved in size, coat color, and personality traits. DNA testing can help identify the actual breeds that are involved in your pet’s genetic makeup. This will give you information about your dog’s behavior, and you can adjust the training plans according to your dog’s needs. According to Jones and Gosling in 2005:

“The personality of the dog has a lot of influence on the performance of different behavioral functions – if we understand the traits that are involved in the performance of such functions, it will help to determine if the dog is suitable for a certain work line.”

  • Help in Rehoming

DNA testing can help rescue a lost dog; otherwise, these pets are up for adoption. It is also useful for rehousing those pets that have lost their collars, microchips, and tags.

  • Poop Patrol

In recent years, various schemes have been released where all dogs in the area are DNA tested, and owners who do not pick up their dog poop are caught using dog poop DNA testing. This scheme is only valid if all pets in the area are registered.

Conclusion

Genetic testing is a revolutionary diagnosis for the pet industry. You can now glean a lot of information about your dog through genetic testing, such as disease problems, genetic disorders, personality traits, and breed knowledge.

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