Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute

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Pedigree Analysis FAQs


Pedigree Analysis FAQs


What is IDASH Pedigree Analysis?
This service will provide a dog’s owner with a report indicating potential risk level for two dozen different inherited traits, mostly genetic diseases but also potentially-disqualifying things like dental faults and unaccepted coat colors.  ASHGI adopted this program in 2007 when it launched its International Directory for Australian Shepherd Health (IDASH).

Where did the idea for the IDASH pedigree analysis come from?
It a fuller development of the private pedigree analysis service  ASHGI founding board member, C.A. Sharp, first offered in the early 1990s.  Initially it was for Collie Eye Anomaly only but was later expanded to cover a broad range of hereditary issues.

What’s in the report?
The report includes the dog’s name, registration number, and the owner’s name.  If a dog has co-owners the name will be of the person who requested the report.  There is also a digital scan code for verification purposes.  The body of the report includes the scores for each trait, the average score for each trait and a variance which shows where the dog’s score is in comparison to the average.  There is also a digital ID code in the lower right corner.

Why the security code?
To prevent forgery.  If you have reason to doubt that the certificate is genuine you can send a copy to us and we can verify whether it is legitimate.

Why do you include average scores on the pedigree analysis report?
Because it is important to know how your dog compares to the breed population.  Having a high score for something where the average score is low means that there are many dogs you can breed to who will bring down the risk.

What should I do if my dog has above average scores?
Attempt to reduce the scores for puppies to below the average whenever possible. For some of our most serious diseases the average score is 4 or above and not breeding higher risk dogs isn’t an option because too many would be removed from the gene pool.  Instead select mates that are at least a couple points lower in score even if the score is still high.  Doing this consistently over a few generations can significantly lower the risk.

How do you calculate average scores?
The initial averages were calculated on over 600 dogs which had pedigree analysis done under the old system.  Averages will be periodically recalculated as sufficient dogs are analyzed and enough time has passed that changes in trait frequencies may have occurred.

Why should I get pedigree analysis for my dog?
If you are a breeder this report will enable you to make more informed breeding decisions as regards the health and other traits included I the report.

Which dogs can have pedigree analysis?
We can do pedigree analysis on any purebred Australian Shepherd, however we will only do it for the registered owner of the dog.

Will pedigree analysis tell me if my dog is going to have something like epilepsy or cancer?
No.  The score is an indication of whether your dog might carry genes for a particular trait; it does not mean the dog has those genes.  Only a DNA test can tell you that.  The higher the score the more likely the dog is to have those genes and therefore produce the trait in its offspring, depending on the genetics of the other parent.  The scores may give dog owners some indication of their dogs’ family health history, but it would be better to get specific information from the breeders and owners of your dog’s relatives or from the IDASH Open Health Database.

Where does the data come from?
Some has been collected from open health registries in the US and Europe and some from Aussie breeders and owners.

How do I get pedigree analysis done on a dog?
Login to IDASH and click on “Request Pedigree Analysis” in the left side menu.

Is there a fee?
Yes, $20 per report.

Should every dog have pedigree analysis?
No, only breeding dogs.  The value to the owner of a non-breeding dog is minimal.

How is pedigree analysis useful for breeders?
The scores provide a consistent method by which you can compare pedigrees and determine whether two dogs are a complementary for the traits listed. Every dog has some level of potential for some health issues.   The scores are a tool to help reduce risk of producing unwanted traits through informed breeding decisions. A score of 3 or higher is reason for concern. Try to avoid crosses that score in excess of 5 for any serious disease.

How old should my dog be when I get pedigree analysis done?
Age isn’t a factor, but breeding dogs should have it done sometime before you start planning the first breeding so you’ll have it on hand while evaluating potential mates.  After that it should be repeated every three years while the dog is still being bred or, for males, semen is being stored.

Will you do litters?
If the breeder requests it and can provide proof of ownership via a registry-issued document.

Can I get pedigree analysis on a planned litter?
No.  We will only do pedigree analysis for litters which have already been delivered. However, you can approximate the litter’s scores if both parents have had pedigree analysis done.  The litter scores will not exceed the average of the parents’ scores.

How come I have to do it over every three years?
We advise you to repeat it because new information will continue to flow in.  For example, you don’t know anything when a dog is born except what you can surmise from its family history.  As it grows, DNA tests will be done.  Over time health information may come in on your dog, its relatives, or offspring, causing some scores to change.

Does new info make scores go up or down?
Both.  If there is a DNA test, clear results on the dog or its progenitors may lower the score.  New reports of health issues, dental faults or disqualifying colors may raise those scores.

When I get my pedigree analysis report, if there is a high score for something can you tell me where it came from?
ASHGI will not discuss health information about any specific dog with anyone but the owner, except for those things that can be found in the Open Health Database.

What kind of things does the pedigree analysis look for?
Most are common inherited diseases. Some less common and even rare diseases are included if there is a DNA test available or they are sufficiently serious that owners should be aware of potential in the pedigree provided we have enough data to produce meaningful results. The list will change from time to time based on fluctuations in disease frequency or new knowledge of diseases or availability of DNA tests.  For detailed information about genetic issues in the Australian Shepherd breed, please click on “Genetics Information” in the menu bar above.

How is the pedigree analysis calculated?
The analysis is based on two types of calculations, a coefficient of inbreeding (COI) and a risk score for each trait.  COI is a measure of inbreeding; increased levels of inbreeding are associated with higher rates of disease and lower longevity. Risk scores are based on a percentage of ancestry type calculation where the trait is the focus rather than a particular dog.   We use a 0-10 scale, with scores below 2.5 being low risk, 2.5-4.9 moderate, and 5 or over high.   For more detailed information on COI and how to read the article “Playing COI.”  For a more detailed discussion of the trait score calculation see “Pedigrees: The Breeder’s Roadmap”.

Why do some of the pedigree analysis scores say “NKB” instead of having a number?
NKB means “no known background.  Zero scores are not listed as a number because it is possible that risk is there but we don’t have the necessary data.  NKB will also appear if a dog is cleared by parentage for something with a DNA test.  DNA test results may be in our Open Health Database but may not; check with the owner to verify DNA test results.

How much pedigree do you use to calculate the scores?
Trait scores are calculated through the fifth generation. COIs are calculated through the 10th.

What if there are dogs in the pedigree that you don’t have information about?
Since we are largely dependent on voluntary submissions our database cannot reflect every incidence of a given trait. Risk scores may be to some degree understated because of this.

Should I only breed dogs with all low scores?
No.  We DO NOT recommend removing a dog from breeding solely because of the results of the pedigree analysis.  In addition, not every trait has the same impact on health and quality of life.  This is not a tool for culling breeding stock, it is an information resource.  Genetic perfection does not exist; all dogs have a few bad genes.  The pedigree analysis report can indicate what some of those genes might be so you can make informed decisions when you select mates for your dog.

What do I do if my dog has high scores?
If multiple traits are a concern you are unlikely to be able to reduce risk on all of them while still selecting for key desired traits. The higher risk traits should be prioritized based on their health impact.  You also must consider structure and behavioral traits in addition to those covered by pedigree analysis. For a detailed treatment of how you can do this read “The Decision Tree.”

Why do I need pedigree analysis for things that have DNA tests?
Most people don’t do every possible DNA test.  If the test hasn’t been done for something included in the pedigree analysis, the score may indicate whether you ought to do that test.  If a scores of 2.5 or higher there is enough potential there that doing the test would be a good idea.