A company whose candy you’ll probably be handing out next week announced the introduction today of a genetic diversity test, aimed at allowing dog breeders to lessen the chances of bringing unhealthy pups into the world.
“Optimal Selection,” despite its somewhat eugenic-sounding name, is a first-of-its-kind tool that actually seeks to broaden the gene pool of various breeds, and thereby avoid the kind of purebred health problems that have become too common as a result of inbreeding closely related dogs.
With the new test from Mars Veterinary, a division of Mars Inc., breeders will be able to select the physical and behavioral traits that are important to them, then, through a DNA test on the blood of potential mates, compare chromosomal similarities and differences.
Based on those results, Mars said in a press release, “the breeder is given the opportunity to diversify the genetic makeup of their puppies and reduce the risk of recessive medical conditions.”
A story (written by me) on those risks and problems, and how, as an issue, they’ve never seemed to reach a tipping point in the American public consciousness, appears in the current issue of The Bark.
Pet products and tests are not new ground for Mars. In addition to pet foods (Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba, Cesar and Royal Canin), Mars Veterinary was one of the pioneers in doggie DNA testing, coming out with a test to determine what breeds are in a dog, and later with tests to verify the heritage of purebreds and designer dogs.
For mutts, Mars Veterinary offers both a swab-based mixed breed test, called Wisdom Panel Insights, and a blood based test, Wisdom Panel Professional. The company says those tests can help predict a dog’s future health problems, based upon the breeds that are in him.
With the Optimal Selection test, though, Mars seems to have stepped beyond appeasing dog owner curiosity to actually addressing the kind of health problems that inbreeding has led to — from bulldogs with heads too big to be born naturally to spaniels whose brains outgrow their skulls.
“For centuries, dedicated breeders have worked to improve the temperament, conformation, and health of their purebred dogs,” their press release says. “However, this can cause a decrease in genetic diversity leaving the breeding community to contend with concerns such as smaller litter size, puppy mortality, and other health issues, in addition to a negative consumer perception around breeding practices.”
The analysis provided by Optimal Selection ($95) uses a scoring system based on the compatibility of the chromosomes of potential mates.
“We have leveraged our extensive knowledge of the genetic structures across breeds to closely examine the DNA of dogs within each breed and help owners take their breeding programs to the next level,” said Dr. Angela Hughes, Veterinary Genetics Research Manager at Mars Veterinary.
“Optimal Selection has the potential to transform dog breeding so that the genetic diversity within a breed or family line can be protected and maximized,” she added.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeders, canine, chromosomes, designer dogs, diseases, diversity, dna, dogs, genetic, health, health problems, hybrids, inbreeding, linebreeding, mars, mars veterinary, mates, mating, maximize, mixed breeds, mutts, optimal selection, pets, practices, product, purebred, test, wisdom panel
Three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey may have to mush without marijuana in next year’s race.
Iditarod Trail Committee officials have announced plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March. Officials haven’t decided who will get tested, or when, where and how it will be done. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the committee.
Alaska law allows for personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, provided the use occurs at home. In addition, Mackey, as a throat cancer survivor, has a medical marijuana card that entitles him to use the drug legally for medical purposes.
Mackey admits marijuana has helped him stay awake and focused through the 1,100-mile race, but he insists it doesn’t give him an edge.
“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. ”I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he said of the new policy. ”It is a dog race, not a human race. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the race.”
While Iditarod dogs have long been tested for a lengthy list of prohibited substances, the humans they are pulling — despite the Iditarod having had an informal drug and alcohol policy since 1984 — never have.
Mackey doesn’t blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy, but he contends he is being targeted by other mushers jealous of his three straight Iditarod titles.
Despite his medical marijuana clearance, Mackey said he will not pursue a therapeutic use exemption; instead, he’ll just abstain for a while.
“I’m going to pee in their little cup,” he said. “And laugh in their face.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, alcohol, champion, dogs, drug, drugs, edge, exemption, iditarod, lance mackey, law, mackey, marijuana, medical, mush, mushing, policy, prohibited, race, sled dogs, sports, substances, test, tested, testing, tests, therapeutic, throat cancer, trail committee
A black Lab named Felony who worked for the police department in Howard Lake, Minnesota, escaped from his kennel, ended up at the local humane society and, after getting labeled aggressive, was euthanized.
Felony, 10 years old and nearing the end of his police career as a drug sniffer, was discovered missing on October 30 when a police officer arrived to pick him up for work.
Police immediately called the Wright County Humane Society. The dog wasn’t there. But he did end up there a day later when a Howard Lake resident found him and called the local dog catcher, KARE11 in the Twin Cities reported.
“Our officer contacted the Animal Humane Society on Friday evening shortly after contacting the dog catcher, said Chief Tracy Vetruba. “Unfortunately, at that time the dog catcher still had the dog, who he did not believe was our dog, and it ‘was’ our dog.”
With no tags or microchip on the dog, a spokesperson for the Animal Humane Society said workers had no idea Felony was a K-9 officer. Felony was placed on a 5-day mandatory hold, during which he demonstrated aggressive behavior. Tests determined that he was dangerous and unadoptable, and Felony was euthanized, the humane society says.
“Our officers were devastated to learn that he was put down,” said Cheif Vetruba. “He will absolutely be missed by our officers.”
Howard Lake’s police chief will look into the events that led to Felony’s death as part of a larger examination of the department’s K-9 program, and he hopes to get a new dog for the department.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggressive, behavior, black lab, canine, chief, dangerous, escape, euthanasia, euthanized, felony, howard lake, humane society, k9, minnesota, officer, police k-9, temperament, test, tracy vetruba, unadoptable, wright county
It took a DNA test to prove it, but Angie Cartwright — who lives in a town that bans pit bulls — has certified that her dog Lucey is only 12 percent bully breeds, and now she has her back.
Lucey had never bitten anyone; nor had she ever acted aggressively, according to the Salina Journal in Kansas. But she was scooped up by animal control officers.
The officers explained that they were taking Lucey to a veterinarian for a breed check — a professional opinion (meaning veterinarian’s guess) to determine Lucey’s breed.
Since 2005, Salina has had a ban on owning unregistered pit bulls and mixed breeds that are predominantly pit bull.
Cartwright got approval to have her vet conduct DNA breed analysis test, ther results of which led to the return of her dog.
The blood test found that a minor amount of Lucey’s DNA came from Staffordshire bull terrier genes — just over 12 percent.
“Maybe this can save someone’s animal, hopefully,” Cartwright said. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek September 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: angie cartwright, animal control, breed, breed ban, breed specific legislation, bsl, bully breeds, dna, dog, dogs, genes, genetic, kansas, lucey, mars veterinary, mixed breed, news, pit bull, recovered, recovers, register, salina, seized, shelter, taken, test, wisdom panel
What do these four breeds have in common — besides getting labeled as vicious from time to time?
All four (Rottweiler, Akita, chow and Staffordshire terrier, aka pit bull) are in my dog Ace, according to yet another DNA test (last one, I promise). The best guess now is that one of Ace’s parents was a Rottweiler, the other a combination of Akita, Chow and pit bull.
Together, they formed this creature:
How the product of four “feared” breeds could be such a gentle giant might be explained several ways.
For starters, they aren’t vicious breeds — just breeds that, due to the acts of a few members, have seen themselves smeared as a whole. Secondly, we would contend, when you start mixing up breeds, though some purebred purists might be offended by it, some wonderful things can happen. Third, maybe, just maybe, nurture is more important than nature.
Then again, maybe DNA testing — scientifically solid as it may be — isn’t always the full and final answer.
After all this was our third test, and our third different diagnosis.
The first DNA analysis was performed in connection with the Baltimore Sun series, “Hey Mister What Kind of Dog is That?” The Canine Heritage test from Metamorphix, using a cheek swab taken from Ace, determined he was Rottweiler and Chow. At the time, the test checked for 38 breeds.
The second came after Mars Veterinary offered us a free Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis kit, which can detect the presence of more than 150 breeds. This one required a visit from a vet to take Ace’s blood, and the results showed he was 50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, and 25 percent other unknown breeds.
While we were waiting for our results on that one, Canine Heritage got back in touch to let us know the newer version of their test — still using a cheek swab — could now detect 100 breeds. They offered us a free re-test, so we swabbed Ace’s mouth again.
The results of that one arrived in the mail last week.
Makers of the tests say it helps dog owners better understand their pets’ behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems, many of which are prevalent among certain breeds. In that regard, testing a dog’s DNA can serve a useful purpose. But there’s a potential for misusing them as well — if, for instance, they ever become a tool for enforcing breed bans.
In that case, Ace, with his components, would be Public Enemy No. 1. Should that ever come to pass, none of this ever happened, and Ace is actually a, uh … Portuguese water dog/Labradoodle mix.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akita, breed, breed bans, breed specific legislation, canine, canine heritage, chow, chow chow, dna, dog, health, mars veterinary, metamorphix, mix, mixed, mutt, mutts, pets, pit bull, rottweiler, test, testing, wisdom panel
And what of Elliot? Does knowing his somewhat fuzzier lineage — 25 percent golden retriever, 25 percent boxer, and 50 percent unknown — provide any information that might be helpful to him and his owners?
The experts at Mars Veterinary, makers of the Wisdom Panel MX mixed breed analysis, say yes — that knowing what’s in your mutt can help you better understand his or her behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems.
With Ace, they say, I should be aware of the potential for hip and elbow dysplasia, as both of the known breeds in him are prone to that. I should keep him on the lean side (something I’ve been unable to do with myself), and consider supplementing his diet with glucosamine, for optimal joint health. Also, since Rottweilers and Akitas are both prone to cataracts and other eye problems, I should keep an eye on his eyes.
With Elliot, hip dysplasia is also a concern, as, later in life, is cancer, which has a high incidence in boxers and golden retrievers. Elliot, based on the breeds found in him, could also be predisposed to skin issues, allergies and hypothyroidism.
Depressing as it all sounds – I, for one, would rather not know what afflictions lay ahead for me – I’ll admit that the information is somewhat useful.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, akita, allergies, animals, boxer, breed, breed test, breeds, care, cataracts, dna, dna testing, dog, dogs, elliot, golden retriever, health, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, mars veterinary, mixed breeds, mutt, mutts, ohmidog!, rottweiler, test, wisdom panel
My dog’s lineage took another wild swerve last night when it was revealed that — contrary to an earlier DNA test that showed him to be Rottweiler and chow — he is actually Rottweiler and Akita.
The two detectable breeds in my dog Ace (left) and Elliot (right) were revealed at our “ohmidog! Identity Crisis and Breed Reveal Party,” which raised $500 for the Franky Fund for sick and injured animals at Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).
While Ace’s mix was correctly guessed by a member of the crowd that gathered at the Idle Hour Tavern for the reveal, nobody nailed the two breeds that showed up in Elliot Gould: boxer and golden retriever.
Kelly Gould, Elliot’s owner — though she has nothing against boxers and golden retrievers — immediately demanded a recount, saying the DNA test’s findings were not at all in line with what she suspected.
Elliot, the winner of our “What’s in Your Mutt” contest, spent the day before the party at my house, where he behaved, in true mutt fashion, magnificently. At the Idle Hour, guests sized up Ace and Elliot, and tossed their guesses, along with their Franky Fund donations, into a fishbowl.
At 8 p.m., the envelopes were opened and the test results were announced. The two winners — in Elliot’s case, the person who came closest, picking boxer/shepherd — will receive ohmidog! sweatshirts. From the rest of the entries, three more winners were drawn to receive dog treat baskets, courtesy of K-9 Kraving Dog Food.
Thanks to K-9 Kraving, the Idle Hour, Mars Veterinary (makers of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis test kit), Dr. Johnny Slaughter (the vet who took the blood samples), and all those who showed up for the party.
(Tomorrow: Now what? We’ll take a look at what, if anything, the test results mean — to the dogs and their caretakers.)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, akita, barcs, boxer, breed, breeds, chow chow, dna, dr. johnny slaughter, elliot, franky fund, golden retriever, guess, hey mister what kind of dog is that, identity crisis, mars veterinary, mixed breed, mutts, news, ohmidog!, party, reveal, rottweiler, test, testing, what's in your mutt, wisdom panel
The segment, titled “Who’s Your Daddy,” features the story of two mixed-breed dogs — one from a local NY shelter and the second belonging to film and Broadway star Bernadette Peters. Both were tested prior to the taping using Wisdom Panel MX, the new breed identification test made by Mars Veterinary.
Peters and Kramer appear on the show for the “reveal.”
As you regular readers know, we’re doing our own DNA test on two dogs, including mine. Ace was originally tested a year ago — and determined to be chow and Rottweiler — using the Canine Heritage test. Last month, we tested him with the upgraded Canine Heritage XL test, as well as the new Mars Wisdom Panel MX, which detects more than 150 breeds, and we’re awaiting verdicts on both. Also tested was Elliott, the winner of our What’s In Your Mutt contest.
We’ll be having our own “reveal” at a time to be announced.
On today’s Rachel Ray Show, you’ll also get the chance to see the shelter dog’s trip to the vet, and the results announced on air by Dr. Ernie Ward, the show’s resident veterinarian.
Bernadette Peters is a long-time advocate for dogs. With Mary Tyler Moore, she hosts Broadway Barks, a dog and cat adopt-a-thon benefiting New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies. Peters also put out a children’s book and CD of the same name.
(Update: Bernadette’s one-eyed dog — Kramer had a tumor in his eye when she adopted him — dog turned out to be predominantly Chow and Golden Retriever.)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bernadette peters, breeds, canine heritage, chow, chow chow, dna test, golden retriever, kramer, mars wisdom panel mx, mary tyler moore, mixed breed, mutts, news, ohmidog!, one-eyed, rachel ray, reveal, show, test, veterinary, what's in your mutt, who's your daddy
Ace and Elliott both bravely submitted to having their blood drawn yesterday for DNA testing, meaning it’s only a matter of time until our ”What’s in Your Mutt Mystery Contest” reaches its final chapter.
Elliott was the winner of our reader contest in which mutt owners wrote about their dogs and why they wanted to know the breeds that were in them.
Ace is my dog, whose DNA test last year — not long after the tests first came out — was recounted in the Baltimore Sun series, Hey, Mister, What Kind of Dog is That?”
The Canine Heritage test — a home version in which the pet owner swabs the inside of the dog’s cheek and sends the swab in for analysis — found him to be Chow and Rottweiler, two of the 38 breeds that particular test, at that particular time, checked for.
Since then, the technology has improved. The new Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis, from Mars Veterinary, tests blood, drawn and sent in by your veterinarian, and can detect the presence of more than 150 breeds. The new Canine Heritage test, available from MMI Genomics, can now detect more than 100 breeds through cheek cells collected on the swab.
When Mars Veterinary, makers of the Wisdom Panel, offered us a chance to try out the new product we agreed. The company sent us two free test kits, one for Ace, one for our contest winner, who turned out to be Elliott.
On Saturday, we all gathered at my house for the blood drawing — Ace, Elliott, his humans, Andrew and Kelly Gould, and Dr. Johnny Slaughter, a mobile veterinarian in Baltimore, and ohmidog! advertiser, who volunteered his services. Read more »
Posted by jwoestendiek December 21st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, breeds, canine heritage, contest, dna, dna test, dna testing, dog dna, doggie dna test, Elliott, guess, hey mister, johnny slaughter, mars, mars veterinary, mixed breed, mmi genomics, mutts, test, veterinarian, veterinary, what kind of dog is that, what's in your mutt, wisdom panel, wisdom panel mx mixed breed analysis