The Paw Print Genetics Blog

Integrating Genetic Testing Into Veterinary Practice- Breeding Dogs

Integrating Genetic Testing Into Veterinary Practice- Breeding Dogs

Most veterinarians are well aware that canine hip and elbow radiographs, echocardiograms, and eye examinations have become routine veterinary health clearances requested by dog breeders. The goal of these diagnostics is to help breeders to improve their blood lines and produce healthy puppies. However, unless you work in a practice with a heavy canine reproduction case load, it is likely that you are less familiar with the genetic testing employed by breeders, what genetic tests are available, and how the results of genetic testing can help your dog-breeding clients attain their goals. Now that genetic testing has become a common addition to other pre-breeding canine health testing, gaining an understanding of available genetic testing and offering a service to help your clients complete their genetic testing through Paw Print Genetics (PPG), may increase the value of your customer relationships and build client loyalty, while at the same time, fulfilling your veterinary goal to improve the quality and length of puppies’ lives. How often do you discuss genetic testing with your dog breeder clients?

Dog Breeding and Genetic Testing

Though vet school curriculums have historically addressed canine inherited diseases and treatments for these conditions, much less emphasis has been placed on preventing inherited disease through genetic testing. Despite the fact that genetics play a role in nearly every aspect of animal health, susceptibility to disease, and even behavior, prior to the 1990’s little was known in regards to specific disease and trait associated genetic mutations of dogs. Though our understanding of canine genetics is dwarfed by the knowledge thus far attained in the field of human genetics, according to the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA), over 190 different mutations for Mendelian canine traits and disorders have been identified; thus, providing a framework for the development of genetic tests to be implemented in selective breeding programs. Through the use of PPG genetic test results and the included genetic counselling services provided by PPG’s veterinarians and geneticists, breeders are producing pups free of over 140 different genetic diseases. Many breeders are now also testing for genetic mutations related to coat color, coat length, and other traits in order to avoid undesirable characteristics in their puppies and to make more informed predictions about the aesthetics of their litters.

Benefits to Veterinary Practice

Given its benefits in preventing inherited disease and eliminating disease associated mutations from bloodlines, it is easy to see why dog breeders have embraced genetic testing with such fervor. However, the benefits of genetic testing to the veterinarian can be just as profound. Whether previously identifying a clotting disorder in a dog now requiring surgery or multidrug resistance 1 in a herding breed that now needs anti-parasitic medication, knowledge provided by genetic testing can improve medical and surgical outcomes of veterinary practice. In addition, early identification of dogs at-risk for chronic or late-onset diseases such as hyperuricosuria, primary lens luxation, some varieties of progressive retinal atrophy, or degenerative myelopathy can decrease time to diagnosis and treatment, and allow for preventative or anticipatory measures to be taken, thereby improving clinical outcomes and quality of life. Veterinarians adopting genetic testing in their practices are finding that genetic testing can easily be integrated into client discussions and is well worth the time spent; especially when dogs affected with (or at-risk for) inherited diseases are identified early in life.

DNA Sample Types

PPG accepts a wide variety of sample types for genetic testing including cheek swabs, blood and FTA blood stain cards, semen, and essentially any other sample containing DNA. PPG also accepts removed dewclaws or docked tails and umbilical cords saved during whelping. Information in regards to shipping considerations for the various sample types can be found on the PPG website.

Ordering and Contact Info for Paw Print Genetics

Most ordering for genetic testing at PPG occurs via the PPG website. However, you are also welcome to call the laboratory (509-483-5950) during normal business hours (Mon.-Fri.; 8 am to 5 pm Pacific) for quick and courteous assistance in placing your order. You can search the list of offered tests by the breed affected, disease/trait name, or by symptom (clinical signs) or browse all test offerings in our disease test catalog or coat colors and traits list. If you have general questions, feel free to call or email the laboratory at