Long-term genetic selection reduced prevalence of hip and elbow dysplasia in 60 dog breeds

Oberbauer AM, Keller GG, Famula TR. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 24 12 (2):e0172918.

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and elbow dysplasia (ED) impact the health and welfare of all dogs. The first formally organized assessment scheme to improve canine health centered on reducing the prevalence of these orthopedic disorders. Phenotypic screening of joint conformation remains the currently available strategy for breeders to make selection decisions.

The present study evaluated the efficacy of employing phenotypic selection on breed improvement of hips and elbows using the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals complete database spanning the 1970-2015 time period. Sixty breeds having more than 1000 unique hip evaluations and 500 elbow evaluations (1,056,852 and 275,129 hip and elbow records, respectively) were interrogated to derive phenotypic improvement, sex and age at time of assessment effects, correlation between the two joints, heritability estimates, estimated breeding values (EBV), and effectiveness of maternal/paternal selection.

The data demonstrated that there has been overall improvement in hip and elbow conformation with a reduction in EBV for disease liability, although the breeds differed in the magnitude of the response to selection. Heritabilities also differed substantially across the breeds as did the correlation of the joints; in the absence of a universal association of these differences with breed size, popularity, or participation in screening, it appears that the breeds themselves vary in genetic control.

There was subtle, though again breed specific, impact of sex and older ages on CHD and ED. There was greater paternal impact on a reduction of CHD.

In the absence of direct genetic tests for either of these two diseases, phenotypic selection has proven to be effective. Furthermore, the data underscore that selection schemes must be breed specific and that it is likely the genetic profiles will be unique across the breeds for these two conditions. Despite the advances achieved with phenotypic selection, incorporation of EBVs into selection schemes should accelerate advances in hip and elbow improvement.

Small animal: