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Dogs are known to be man’s best friend, and they have been by our sides for thousands of years.
According to researchers at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, there is a good chance your best friend is highly inbred, with a genotypical profile that you would see if two siblings reproduced. As you might have guessed, this is not good for a pups’ health.
Dogs are Inbred
The scientists, led by an animal geneticist named Dr. Danika Bannasch, found the level of inbreeding for 227 different breeds utilizing Wisdom Health Genetics’ DNA testing dataset for 49,378 dogs.
She found that most dog breeds showed high levels of inbreeding which was well above what is considered safe for either wild animals or human populations.
Only 11 of the 227 breeds analyzed had an inbreeding score of 0.125 or less, equal to a cross amongst two half-siblings.
However, most breeds scored above 0.25, which you would see if two siblings or an offspring and parent had a baby.
The scientists then compared this inbreeding data with pet insurance information from the Agria company. It allowed them to rate minor routine veterinary care procedures per 10,000 dog years per dog breed.
The researchers calculated that the average purebred dogs require 24.4% more non-routine vet visits than mixed breed dogs. These are visits for diseases, injuries, or other unexpected illnesses.
However, not all breeds are the same regarding health. For example, Australian Labradoodles, Tamaskan Dogs, Koolies, Barbets, Mudis, and Danish-Swedish Farm dogs, were some of the least inbred, and they shared similar rates of vet care for mixed-breed dogs.
Pomeranians, Chow Chows, Border Terriers, Samoyeds, Collies, Shiba Inus, Siberian Huskies, and English setters also had good health, even though they were more inbred.
Inbreeding Poses Serious Health Risks
The dogs with brachycephaly, a feature of the face categorized by short noses that makes it hard to breathe, as the most inbred where they require a lot of veterinary care — 44.6% more than the mixed breeds.
Both pugs and bulldogs are a part of this category. Rottweilers and Mastiffs and other larger inbred breeds had also, on average, suffered from more health problems, primarily because of their enormous size.
The two most popular breeds in Golden Retrievers and Labradors were highly inbred and needed more vet attention than the average dog.
Retrievers typically have painful hip issues and often get cancer at very high rates.
Of course, humans are to blame for these genetic ailments. Most breeds of today were established in the last 200 years through a shit ton of inbreeding to find the desired looks. Unfortunately, dogs’ health fell by the wayside in this futile pursuit.
To cut down on the inbred dog population with significant health issues, prospective pet owners can choose to adopt healthier breeds or seek out mutts from their local shelters and dog rescue agencies.