Give a Dog a Genome

Give a Dog a Genome

Latest Update: We have currently sent samples from 5 Giant Schnauzers affected with Idiopathic Epilepsy to take part in the Give A Dog a Genome project, all of which meet the strict criteria for taking part in the project. The dogs put forward must have had an MRI scan, CSF analysis, bloods and urine tests all returned clear, and be under the care of a canine neurologist to ensure they have a diagnosis of Idiopathic Epilepsy. A DNA sample from one of these dogs been DNA sequenced by a commercial laboratory. The sequence data may also be shared with other scientists as deemed necessary or helpful. Additional analysis of the data to attempt to identify any variants that contribute to Epilepsy will take quite a while, and it is entirely possible that the AHT will not be able to identify any variants that contribute to this condition. However, even if this is the case, the data still can and will be used in investigations of inherited disease in other breeds. There will only be further news if there is something specific to the Giant Schnauzer to report. The AHT and Giant Schnauzer Club would like to thank the breed community for participating in the Give a Dog a Genome.

About the GDG Project

Give A Dog A Genome is an initiative from the Animal Health Trust (AHT) to improve dog health. The AHT aim to sequence the entire genomes (all 2.4 billion letters of DNA) of at least 75 different dog breeds. The information will have profound effects on the ability to identify mutations which cause inherited diseases in purebred dogs, and the rate at which new DNA tests can be developed as tools for breeders. It costs around £2,000 to sequence the entire genome of an individual dog, and the AHT is fortunate enough to have received £50,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust (KCCT) for this purpose. The AHT invited all breeds to get involved in the project to collectively match the KCCT funding with £1,000 towards sequencing the genome of an individual dog of each breed. The breed clubs representing all 3 size Schnauzers, along with the GSHF, all agreed to put the ‘Schnauzer breed’ forward for genome sequencing.

75 breeds that expressed a desire to take part presented £1,000 to the AHT for their breed including the Giant Schnauzer. The AHT, in conjunction with breed clubs, will select a number of candidate dogs in a breed, with DNA collected via mouth swabs and one sample being chosen by the AHT for genome sequencing. This final selection is normally determined by the quality of the DNA sample, and the AHT are keen to make this as anonymous as possible. Ideally, candidate dog(s) should be ‘affected’ with a known hereditary condition but one for which the marker is unknown (thus a DNA test not yet available). Once the genome of all 75 selected dogs (breeds) has been sequenced, they will be used as comparisons in future research projects by the AHT, who will make the database available to other research bodies throughout the world. The process for a genome sequence takes approximately 1 week, so this project won’t be complete for at least a year or possibly longer. Continual feedback will be part of the project but CM (& AHT) urges caution in respect of the project being able, in itself, to identify a marker mutation for any particular condition.

CM confirmed that the joint KC/AHT initiative will be restricted to 75 ‘distinct’ breeds (one from the Dachshunds; Rough & Smooth Collie; Schnauzer family, etc.). If the other varieties or size wished to be sequenced then the total cost (£2,000 per dog) would have to be funded by that breed. The choice between Giant and Schnauzer (known by some as the ‘Standard’!) was discussed at the AHT’s seminar. The Giant has a recognised hereditary condition (HC) without a DNA test: the Schnauzer has Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) and a DNA test exists, but no other ‘identified’ hereditary condition. After the Schnauzer breed clubs put forward three main health concerns within the breed, given the choices, for the current project, the AHT decided that they would prefer the DNA of Giant affected with Idiopathic Epilepsy, although would be equally keen to proceed with the Schnauzer if the breed could fund the whole cost of its GS.

All UK Giant clubs, backed by the Giant Schnauzer Health Fund, fully support this project and presented £1,000 to the AHT at Crufts on 12 March 2016 for genome sequencing of the Giant Schnauzer.

Give a Dog a Genome


More information about the Give a Dog a Genome initiative can be found on the AHT website

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