Population structure and genetic heterogeneity in popular dog breeds in the UK

Vet J. 2013 Apr;196(1):92-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2012.08.009. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


There is increasing concern that reproductive isolation related to breed specifications in dogs, while maintaining genetic differences among breeds, is likely to promote breed-specific genetic disorders. This study examined genetic diversity among 13 popular dog breed groups in the UK. Most breeds showed high levels of homozygosity when compared with crossbred animals. The Boxer and West Highland white terrier showed the lowest heterozygosity, while the Jack Russell terrier group (not a registered breed in the UK) had a level of heterozygosity comparable to crossbred dogs. Analysis of genetic distance between breeds showed significantly different inbreeding coefficients for pairwise comparisons among registered breeds, with the most divergent breeds being the Boxer and West Highland white terrier. The Rottweiler and Golden retriever showed the highest levels of inbreeding. The least distinct group contained crossbred dogs. The results show that the registered breeds are subject to a 'breed barrier' which promotes reduction in genetic diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Microsatellite Repeats*
  • Species Specificity
  • United Kingdom


  • Genetic Markers