The Kennel Club has released a new set of annual breed averages for the coefficient of inbreeding (COIs) in each pedigree breed on its free online health resource, Mate Select.
Mate Select provides breeders with inbreeding coefficient calculators for all dogs found on the Kennel Club’s Breed Register. These calculators use all pedigree records stored on the Kennel Club’s database to calculate the COI of individual Kennel Club registered dogs, puppies that could be produced from hypothetical matings, and each breed as a whole.
Each of the COI calculators uses all available pedigree information and does not limit the number of generations used, making each calculation as precise as possible.
Prior to July 2014, the breed average calculations were based on all dogs recorded by the Kennel Club during the previous year. This included imported dogs, dogs that form part of an overseas pedigree but are not necessarily registered with the Kennel Club, dogs born one year and registered the next, and dogs registered late (over a year old).
Following feedback from users, the Kennel Club has reviewed and recalculated the COIs on Mate Select to reflect just those dogs born and registered within the UK in a given year. In future, this calculation will be carried out each June and will generate the annual breed average using Kennel Club registered dogs born in the UK between January and December of the previous year. Using this data will provide a more effective means of monitoring yearly change than by using the average of all recorded dogs in each breed.
In smaller breeds, if no dogs have been born in that year, the annual breed average will default to the last year in which a calculation could be performed. In breeds where there is no available annual breed average data for the past five years, the annual breed average will display as ‘N/A’. This may include breeds where no dogs have been born in the UK for five years or more, and some newly recognised breeds.
Of the 215 Kennel Club-recognised breeds, 206 meet the new criteria of having dogs born in the UK in the last five years. The remaining nine breeds consist of either new breeds where no dogs have yet been born in the UK, or breeds where no dogs have been born in the UK in the last five years.
The changes do not impact on any individual dog’s inbreeding coefficient, including imported dogs, nor the COIs of hypothetical matings.
Of the 206 breeds, using the new calculation, the annual breed average COI has decreased for 9 breeds and stays the same for an additional 12. Of the 185 breeds with higher annual breed average COIs following the revision:
- 74 are 1% or less higher (e.g. increasing from an annual breed average COI of 5% to 6% or less)
- 76 are between 1% and 3% higher (e.g. from an annual breed average COI of 5% to between 6% and 8%)
- 19 are between 3% and 5% higher (e.g. from an annual breed average COI of 5% to between 8% and 10%)
- 16 are more than 5% higher (e.g. from a breed average COI of 5% to 10% or more)
Five breeds did not have any dogs born in the UK in 2013 and so the current annual breed average COI is based on the most recent year in which an annual breed average could be calculated.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “We believe that these new annual breed averages will not only help breeders to continue to make responsible choices when choosing which dogs to use for breeding, but also show the effect that these decisions have for their breed year-on-year.
“Although the new calculations may appear to show that the COI in some breeds has changed significantly in the last year, this is not necessarily the case, but reflects the fact that the previous figures drew data from a different set of criteria and we have now modified this to use more relevant data from solely UK-born dogs. These revised figures draw a new base line from which breeders can follow the improvements made within their breeds as they make responsible choices to help manage genetic diversity.
“Our breeding guidelines state that, where possible, breeders should produce puppies with an inbreeding coefficient which is at, or below, the annual breed average and ideally as low as possible. By doing so, breed enthusiasts should be able to manage and monitor their breed’s genetic diversity year on year and see how their breeding decisions ultimately have a significant impact on the health and welfare of the breed.”
Further information on COIs and the Kennel Club’s Mate Select resource can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/mateselect or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments on the above would be very welcome because, at first (and second) reading it doesn’t seem to make an awful lot of sense.