New Canine Genetic Testing Initiative

02/09/2017

The “IPFD Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs” Initiative aims to address quality DNA testing, resulting in improved standardization of, and access to, robust genetic testing to support better canine health.

Authors: Diane Brown, DVM, PhD; AKC Canine Health Foundation and Brenda Bonnett, DVM, PhD; International Partnership for Dogs

If you’re considering DNA testing for your dog, you’ve probably had questions like these: How do I know which laboratory to choose? Which tests are the most important or necessary for my dog/my breed? Are the results reliable? What do the test results really mean and how should I use them? Your veterinarian and breeder may have trouble answering all these questions (especially for every breed!)

That’s because the ever-increasing number of canine DNA tests and testing laboratories has made choosing quality DNA testing providers and the right DNA tests for health and breeding decisions challenging for dog owners, breeders and veterinarians. With no existing national or international standards of genetic testing for laboratory accreditation, or a standardization oversight group, there is a growing need for a reliable third party—a neutral organization that can provide guidance about test reliability and laboratory quality assurance.

In response to this need, and with initial funding provided through generous contributions from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and the founding partners of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD), a new initiative has been launched.

Called the "IPFD Harmonization of Genetic Testing for Dogs," the initiative will provide practical support to address the challenges associated with the often confusing world of canine DNA testing. It will also strive to support consumer confidence in DNA testing, educate consumers in the use of these tests as tools to reduce the incidence of inherited disease, and reduce redundant international efforts.

Through this collaborative program, IPFD and its partners will work to coordinate expertise and increase the availability of resources to you. Several commercial and academic DNA test-providers, from North America, Europe and Australia, have already committed to supporting and participating in this program.

Ultimately, the initiative’s aim is to create an open access, searchable and sustainable online resource for the international dog world, including breeders, dog owners and veterinarians that will:

  • Catalog information provided voluntarily from commercial test providers for genetic testing in dogs;

  • Describe expertise, quality assurance, activities and resources of the laboratories/test providers;

  • Host expert panel reviews of genetic tests, their reliability, and applicability;

  • Coordinate a program for standardized proficiency testing, and peer review;

  • Link to and share existing and new resources for genetic counseling and education.

The initiative will be guided by IPFD CEO Brenda Bonnett and Project Director Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi , and will be overseen by a multi-stakeholder steering committee set up by the IPFD that, in addition to the aforementioned, currently includes Diane Brown, AKC Canine Health Foundation; Matthew Breen, North Carolina State University; Cathryn Mellersh, Animal Health Trust; Sofia Malm, Swedish Kennel Club; Wim van Haeringen, VHL Genetics, Netherlands; Sue Pearce-Kelling, Optigen; and Eddie Dziuk, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

The initiative’s initial phase is already underway: the development of a working prototype of the online resource. Both the prototype and the final output will be hosted and available online to the public on the IPFD’s DogWellNet.com platform.  For more information on the initiative, sponsors and participants, click here.

The prototype for the commercial test provider quality database will be presented at the 3rd International Dog Health Workshop this April in Paris, with follow up presentations on progress at additional scientific and stakeholder meetings. Dr. Bonnett has been invited to speak directly to AKC Parent Club representatives and also will be available to talk with breeders, veterinarians and attendees during the AKC Canine Health Foundation’s National Parent Club Canine Health Conference, August 11 – 13, 2017 in St. Louis, MO.

In summary, the collaborators on this initiative believe this approach to the urgent need to address quality DNA testing will result in improved standardization of, and access to, robust genetic testing to support health improvements and ensure a sustainable future for healthy dogs. Visit DogWellNet.com for updates on this important initiative.

About the leading organizations:

International Partnership for Dogs

The IPFD is a non-profit organization, registered in Sweden, and initiated in 2014 by a diverse group of stakeholders in the international dog world, including numerous national kennel clubs. The IPFD mission is to facilitate collaboration and sharing of resources to enhance the health, well-being and welfare of pedigreed dogs and all dogs worldwide. Visit the IPFD online at www.dogwellnet.com for more information.

The Agria-SKK Research Fund is a collaboration between Agria Animal Insurance and the Swedish Kennel Club.

AKC Canine Health Foundation

For more than 20 years, the Raleigh, NC-based AKC Canine Health Foundation has leveraged the power of science and research to improve the lives of dogs and their people. The CHF works to prevent, treat and cure diseases that impact all dogs, while providing professional information and resources for a new breed of dog owner. Take action because you care; find out more online at www.akcchf.org.

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

The OFA is a 50 year old non-profit foundation with a specific mission to improve the health and welfare of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease. Visit the OFA online at www.ofa.org for more information.

 

 

This article was originally published in DN Magazine and is reprinted with permission.

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