The effects of dog breed development on genetic diversity and the relative influences of performance and conformation breeding

Niels C Pedersen, H. Liu, G. Theilen, Benjamin Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Genetic diversity was compared among eight dog breeds selected primarily for conformation (Standard Poodle, Italian Greyhound and show English Setter), conformation and performance (Brittany), predominantly performance (German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers) or solely performance (field English Setter and Red Setter). Modern village dogs, which better reflect ancestral genetic diversity, were used as the standard. Four to seven maternal and one to two Y haplotypes were found per breed, with one usually dominant. Diversity of maternal haplotypes was greatest in village dogs, intermediate in performance breeds and lowest in conformation breeds. Maternal haplotype sharing occurred across all breeds, while Y haplotypes were more breed specific. Almost all paternal haplotypes were identified among village dogs, with the exception of the dominant Y haplotype in Brittanys, which has not been identified heretofore. The highest heterozygosity based on 24 autosomal microsatellites was found in village dogs and the lowest in conformation (show) breeds. Principal coordinate analysis indicated that conformation-type breeds were distinct from breeds heavily used for performance, the latter clustering more closely with village dogs. The Brittany, a well-established dual show and field breed, was also genetically intermediate between the conformation and performance breeds. The number of DLA-DRB1 alleles varied from 3 to 10 per breed with extensive sharing. SNPs across the wider DLA region were more frequently homozygous in all pure breeds than in village dogs. Compared with their village dog relatives, all modern breed dogs exhibit reduced genetic diversity. Genetic diversity was even more reduced among breeds under selection for show/conformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-248
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Dog breeds
  • Genetic diversity
  • Genetic selection
  • Work versus show

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals


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