What a great weekend of education - with the Canadian Kennel Club and about 170 participants, including breeders with a range of experience from over 40 years to novices. Speakers Dr. Kari Ekenstedt, a geneticist from Purdue University in Indiana and IPFD CEO Dr. Brenda Bonnett covered 'everything you need to know to understand genetic testing' in a clear, concise and entertaining series of talks. Interactive discussions with the many knowledgeable, committed attendees were interesting and thought-provoking.
My talks covered the Harmonization of Genetic Testing and the many initiatives IPFD is pursuing to support breeders, as well as a talk together with Kari on Ethics and Welfare. In addition, both speakers addressed issues about genetic diversity, selection and inbreeding. Dr. Ekestedt's presentation was a primarily science-based coverage, including description of various tools, including calculation of Coefficients of Inbreeding (COIs). My talk on Population Health and Diversity presented a more conceptual coverage of diversity (see below), including examples from other species. Both talks included practical suggestions for including these aspects in breeding decisions, but this was also meant to promote discussion and consideration by breeders as they examine their own role, as well as the roles of breed and kennel clubs in promoting and conserving health and longevity in their breeds.
It is clear that many breeders are struggling with definitions and implications of genetic diversity, inbreeding and line breeding, and with resolving new information from the fast-advancing world of genetics and genomics with long-held attitudes and practices that are firmly embedded in dog breeding culture. Below are some key points and challenging issues raised in these talks and in the interesting and frank discussions with participants.
Thanks to the Canadian Kennel Club and all the participants for a stimulating and enjoyable weekend of continuing education! Congrats to the CKC team who put on a great event.
Stay tuned as we will post on DogWellNet.com the video of my talk and links to the rest of the program - hopefully in early January 2020.
Additional reading on Genetic Diversity
Understanding Breeds as Populations - J. Bell
Is Crossbreeding a Part of the Plan for Bulldogs -- Genetic Considerations (references Pederson Study)