Changes in mutation frequency of eight Mendelian inherited disorders in eight pedigree dog populations following introduction of a commercial DNA test

PLoS One. 2019 Jan 16;14(1):e0209864. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209864. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: DNA testing for autosomal recessive disease mutations in many dog breeds is now relatively commonplace. There have, however, been few efforts made to determine changes in the frequency of disease causing mutations as a result of probable selection based on the results of DNA testing. This study makes use of genotype data from both DNA test results reported to the UK Kennel Club and where known from a 'hereditary status' (where a definitive genotype may be inferred and ascribed based on known parental genotypes) to do so.

Results: The results, using all known genotype data, show a general and sizeable decline in disease causing mutation frequency across eight diseases in eight breeds (by between 12-86% in dogs born 2-4 years after publication of the mutation, and by nearly 90% or more in those born 8-10 years after). In contrast, data from test results only, while revealing an almost complete and immediate end to the production of affected individuals, show little general decline in either the derived mutation frequency or the proportion of heterozygote carriers. It appears that the numerical size of the breed is an important determinant on the rate of uptake of a DNA test (as judged by the proportion of a breed born four years after publication of the disease-causing mutation with a known genotype).

Conclusion: These results show that dog breeders appear to be incorporating the results of DNA testing into their selection strategies to successfully decrease the frequency of the mutation. It is shown that use of DNA test result data alone does not reveal such trends, possibly as some breeders undertake testing to determine clear stock which can then be used to produce future disease-free generations in the knowledge they are not carrying the disease causing mutation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / methods
  • DNA / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Genetic Testing / veterinary
  • Genotype
  • Mutation
  • Mutation Rate
  • Pedigree


  • DNA

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.