By now most pet owners are familiar with DNA tests for dogs, how they work and the reasons for trying them. Most often, owners use them to find out more about their dogs, including breed and potential health problems. But were you aware that DNA tests and study of canine genetics does a lot more than simply provides information on your pup?
For today’s podcast episode I spoke with canine DNA study researcher and veterinary spokesperson Dr. Angela Hughes of Wisdom Panel, one of the leaders among dog DNA test companies. Dr Hughes provided more details on how studying canines’ genetics helps and impacts the veterinary research field, and she also explained what type of information owners can expect from these tests, how to do them and how this data can help to take better care of their dogs.
Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.
- Subscribe on iTunes: http://apple.co/2bCksWl
- Subscribe on Google Play: https://goo.gl/Ok7AOw
- Subscribe on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2cdfmzO
How Dog DNA Tests Impact Veterinary Research
Thanks for tuning in for another episode of Theory of Pets. As you know, on this podcast I try to reach out to experts in the pet industry to gain some insights and some knowledge for all of us pet owners with millions of questions about our dogs and cats. This week I was able to talk to Angela Hughes, who is a doctor of veterinary medicine; she has a PhD and she was the lead researcher of dog DNA study recently, the largest study of its kind. And she’s also a spokesperson for Wisdom Panel. Wisdom Panel is one of the leading companies in the dog DNA industry – they created the Wisdom Panel dog DNA test which is very widely known.
Dr. Hughes is also a veterinary spokesperson that can discuss the findings of the study, how they impact the future of canine treatment and health, and of course what dog owners need to know about canine DNA and tests like Wisdom Panel. So I was excited to talk to her today and I’m excited for you guys to listen to the interview as well.
Interview with Dr. Angela Hughes
Samantha: I know you were recently the lead researcher on the largest canine DNA study to date; can you tell us a little bit about the study and the findings?
Dr. Angela Hughes: Yes, so I was definitely one of the researchers involved in the first study of its kind and its size to our knowledge. Over a hundred thousand dogs were studied and tested over the course of a little over a year, and from that data what we found was looking at hundred and fifty two genetic disorders and those dogs. What is the frequency, how often do mixed breeds versus purebred dogs carry a genetic mutation that may or may not affect them, so depending on the disorder some diseases are recessive where you need two copies in order to see the disorder potentially crop up, or other disorders are dominant where you only need one copy. And what we found was mixed breed dogs in general are healthier in the sense that they are less likely to have two copies of those recessive disorders than their purebred cousins so to speak, but the mixed breed dogs are actually more likely to carry a genetic mutation of some sort, so to have at least one copy than the purebreds.
In large part probably because there’s more selection pressures, and more people testing and looking for these disorders and the purebred population than trying to breed away from them as they should be, then in the mixed population where a lot of it is just happening willy-nilly. And so actually the dog with the most positive genetic mutations was a mixed breed dog and they had five out of a hundred and fifty-two which is a little bit scary, but needless to say like I said the percentage of dogs that are likely to develop one of the genetic tests or genetic diseases that we were testing for. These are closer to the two to four percent range depending on when they are, whether they are mixed breed or purebred.
Samantha: Wow, that’s amazing.
Dr. Angela Hughes: A lot of great information.
Samantha: Yes, so how will this information affect to the veterinary field going forward?
Dr. Angela Hughes: There was a couple of points that we wanted to try to get across. One was that mixed breed dog there are in something called hybrid vigor and having a little bits of variables generally is not a bad thing, but it does mean that you could carry along the disorders from each of those breeds so your mixed breed could still suffer from a genetic disorder. So keep that in mind that we can’t just say “oh well they’re a mixed breed dogs, they’re going to be healthy and not think about it or worry about it.” So testing them is still really helpful to give a lot of information to the veterinarian and to the client. The purebred population, obviously we’ve known for a while, has got certain disorders that we need to pay attention to and so genetic testing for them, it’s also really helpful, to understand that they are predisposed to or not.
So one of the things that your breed might be predisposed to that your dog probably isn’t, because they didn’t inherit those genetic disorders, and then the third thing was to create a database, so we created a database called MyBreedData.com where the veterinarians or breeders or general dog owners could go and see the frequency of these disorders, these mutations in different sure bred populations or as a mixed breed for all populations, so you can see how common it is within a breed and what disorders have been found in that breed.
So if you’re looking at a new breed, say you’re interested in the Labrador Retriever, and you want to see which genetic disorders might be present in that breed, that your breeder will hopefully have tested for and have some information about, so that you could be rest assured that your dog isn’t going to develop that disorder, you can go here and you can see the 11 or 12 different disorders that we can test for presently that the Labrador do carry and so you should ask a breeder about having tested for these and ensured that their population of puppies is not going to be affected.
Samantha: Yes absolutely, I think that’s something that a lot of pet parents don’t realize when they are looking to adopt, they just assume that any reputable breeder will test for these things and that’s not always the case.
Dr. Angela Hughes: Yes, many of them do and certainly most of them have the best in their heart for their breed and for their dog, some of them may just need a little bit more education as to what is available and what they need to be doing. But it’s always good to check and to have your research done beforehand so that you can go and ask the right questions and get the information that you need.
Samantha: Yes, certainly, absolutely, and going forward from that after you adopt your pet there are other things that parents should be aware of. I recently did the Wisdom Panel DNA test on our beagle Molly, she was a mix we knew the breeder, we were pretty sure that her dad was a cocker spaniel and her mom was a beagle, we met both the parents but of course just from the look of a dog you can’t always tell, so we weren’t sure farther back in her history what else we would find. The Wisdom Panel test showed that she was a 50/50 split and it also tested because there’s two different ones correct one that just looks at breed and one that looks more into their health.
Dr. Angela Hughes: Yes, so we have Wisdom Panel 3.0 and 4.0 which looks at breeding ancestry as well as one or two genetic disorders like multi drug sensitivity and exercise induced collapse, which are both very critical ones that the owner should be aware of and keep in mind. With the Panel 4.0 also goes into the traits of the dog and then as you mentioned with the Panel help which is what you did was our ancestry traits and hundred and fifty plus genetic disorders including the two I mentioned before the multi drug sensitivity and exercise-induced collapse.
Dr. Angela Hughes: Thankfully Molly was clear for all of them.
Samantha: I know, we were so excited to see that, you hear that misleading stigma quite often that makes breed dogs are going to be healthier than purebred dogs, and we have a purebred Labrador Retrievers as well she came from somebody that we know that breeds and she was tested as a puppy, so we decided that because we have her test results from when she was younger that we would try this with Molly and we were hoping for good results and we were really excited to see that she came out clean for everything so that was great. But what would a dog owner expect because obviously not every dog is going to be negative for all of them, what information could you get from this test if your dog did test positive for one of these genetic disorders?
Dr. Angela Hughes: Yes, for example, if we want to talk about like…