Golden Retriever Genetic Diversity Project

The Golden Retriever Foundation is excited to announce that it has asked Josh Stern, DVM, PhD, Niels Pedersen, DVM, PhD, and the research team in the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to develop a genetic diversity study of Golden Retrievers. The project will survey DNA from North American Goldens, with a focus on selecting dogs that represent all or nearly all of the genetic variety available in this population. A report at the end of the study will detail the frequency of key haplotypes (groups of genes that tend to be inherited together) that are indicators of the genetic health of a population, and will identify subpopulations that have maintained richer diversity versus those with potentially risky loss of diversity.

The 1998 GRCA/GRF Golden Retriever Health Survey gave us invaluable insight into the state of clinical disease and health of our breed, and it remains a gold standard source of data that helps guide research priorities. Similarly, this DNA survey will provide insight into the genetic health of the breed, and will be a lasting resource to inform and guide breed planning. This may help us reduce harmful practices that cause loss of diversity, and allow us to develop a rational strategy to improve the long-term viability of the gene pool.

In addition to reporting on diversity in the breed as a whole, VGL will provide participating owners with individual reports on their dogs. This will enable the identification of dogs that have rare genes whose diversity value to the breed is highly desirable, so that special effort or consideration can be made to preserve those dogs/lines going forward. Over time, as the database matures, it may help breeders select breeding pairs that will produce a higher level of healthy diversity in their puppies.

It is said in medicine that one cannot change or impact what one doesn’t measure, and thus GRF has initiated this study to measure the current state of genetic diversity in the North American Golden population. A long-range goal is that we will obtain data that will allow us to be better caretakers of the breed.
Phase I of this research is already underway, and Golden owners and breeders are encouraged to participate by submitting a DNA sample that will help to build the database. During the research phase, cost is discounted to $50 instead of the regular rate of $100, and additional information can be found at:

Sept, 2015