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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2023

Heritability and genetic trend of body weight in dogs of different breeds in Sweden

Strandberg, Erling; Andersson, Linda; Emanuelson, Ulf; Bjornvad, Charlotte Reinhard; Ringmark, Sara; Hedhammar, Ake; Hoglund, Katja


Lay Summary High body weight in dogs is often considered to cause problems, for instance, resulting in hip and elbow diseases. Furthermore, there is a huge variation in body conformation and size between different dog breeds, which is related to breeding for specific appearances and genetic traits. The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic variation of body weight within different dog breeds. To study this, we examined 19 dog breeds with an average body weight of 8 to 56 kg. We found that on average about 50% of the total variation in body weight between dogs, within a breed, depends on genetic differences, but with a range from 35% to 70% depending on breed. There were rather small changes over time in the genetic predisposition for high or low body weight; the largest changes were 0.6 kg over a 10-yr period.High body weight (BW) in dogs has been associated with developmental as well as degenerative diseases, but the heritability of BW in dog breeds is largely unknown. The aim of the current study was to estimate heritability and genetic change (genetic trend) for BW in a range of dog breeds in Sweden. Body weight registrations from 19 dog breeds (with n ranging from 412 to 4,710) of varying body size, type and usage were collected from 2007 to 2016. The average BW of the breeds was 8 to 56 kg. The BW registrations were performed when the dogs were 12 to 24 mo of age (18 to 30 mo for one large-sized breed) in connection with an official radiographic screening program for hip dysplasia. Collected weight records were used to estimate heritability and genetic trends for BW. Several statistical models were used. The preliminary model included the fixed effects of breed (P < 0.001), sex (P < 0.001), year of screening (P < 0.001), litter size (P = 0.06), parity of the dam (P = 0.03) and linear regression on age at screening (P < 0.001), the latter five effects all nested within breed, and the random effects of litter and dam. Season of birth and the quadratic effect of age were also tested, but were not significant (P > 0.10). For the genetic analysis, various mixed linear models were tested within breed with different combinations of random effects; the most complex model included random effects of litter, direct additive, and maternal genetic effects, and maternal permanent environmental effects. The average heritability for BW over all 19 breeds was 51%, with a range of 35% to 70%, and the additive genetic coefficient of variance was around 9%. Maternal heritability was 5% to 9% and litter variance was below 10% with one exception (15% in Shetland Sheepdogs). For nine breeds, there was a genetic trend of increasing BW, whereas seven breeds had a genetic trend of decreasing BW. The largest absolute genetic change over a 10-yr period was around 0.6 kg or about 2% of the mean. In conclusion, given the small genetic changes in spite of the high heritability, it seems that there is generally a very weak selection, if any, for BW in the included dog breeds.Body weight in dogs is highly heritable, but there is very little selection on it.


body weight; dog; genetic change; heritability

Publicerad i

Journal of Animal Science
2023, Volym: 101, artikelnummer: skad173