Danish Swedish Farmdogs aiming at getting more comprehensive DNA information

The Danish Swedish Farmdog represents the valuable cultural heritage of Denmark and Sweden. Dogs of this breed have lived on the farms of Denmark and Southern Sweden probably already in the 18th or 19th century. The Farmdog performed a number of different tasks on the farms. It has kept the farm clean of rats and other rodents, driven foxes out of the henhouses, informed as a watch dog about those who come and go– there are even stories about Farmdogs that walked children to school and back home at the end of the school day. As a result of urbanization the breed got close to extinction, but fortunately, Swedish and Danish breeders revived the breed and it was accepted as an official breed in 1987. Today, the majority of individuals are just house pets, but some are still working in the breed’s original tasks as a rat and watch dog.

A Danish Swedish Farmdog is happy, alert, friendly and intelligent by nature. It learns quickly and is willing and able to collaborate.

Danish Swedish Farmdogs are in general considered healthy and long-lived, and there are no common diseases or health concerns in the breed. There is a lot of phenotypic variation between dogs, and in this sense the breed is quite diverse. For example in Finland, the national Kennel Club has defined maintaining genetic diversity as an essential objective in its guidelines for Breed Club Breeding Committees. So far this recommendation has been implemented in breeding of  Danish Swedish Farmdogs by aiming at a low coefficient of inbreeding by using as diverse breeding combinations as possible from different lineages. Actually measuring genetic diversity on the molecular level is, however, a more concrete tool that will help the Breeding Committee in making new breeding recommendations for the Breed Club members.

A sufficiently large and diverse breeding population is essential for the wellbeing of the breed. Only this ensures that genetic variation is maintained for the future. The loss of genetic variation can be slowed down by increasing the effective population size. Preferably, the population should include a number different lineages, offering plenty of options for breeding selections. The amount of individuals used for breeding should be increased, and the number of litters of an individual dog controlled. For example, if the same few males are bred to several females within a short period of time, the relative genetic contribution of the popular sires to the population increases even though it is difficult to immediately estimate what the impact of their genes is. Some inherited problems that the males carry may become apparent only later as their puppies age, or even not only until subsequent generations. Increased awareness of the genetic background of the breed helps breeders in making better decisions, as well as the Breeding Committee in evaluating the relevance and utility of the existing breeding recommendations.

The MyDogDNA Pass is a genome-wide DNA assessment for dogs. In order to get information about genetic diversity and genetic relationships within a breed, at least 30 dogs need to be tested. A few more tested Farmdogs are still needed to get a preliminary genetic profile for the breed. At the moment, the breed level information is compared to other breeds in the same FCI-breed group. So far, MyDogDNA testing has identified one novel inherited disorder in the breed: PLL (primary lens luxation).PLL is an eye disorder causing painful displacement of the lens and potentially blindness. PLL is particularly common in multiple terrier breeds. Not until recent years have official eye examinations been carried out on a large scale for Farmdogs. PLL hasn’t been encountered in these examinations so far, but a handful of other eye diseases have. With the help of MyDogDNA panel testing, it is possible to find out the prevalence of PLL within the Danish Swedish Farmdog breed. This will be important for making informed breeding decisions that help avoid spreading of PLL.

The Finnish Breed Club for Danish Swedish Farmdogs, in collaboration with MyDogDNA, wishes to invite all Farmdog owners and breeders to participate in DNA-testing of this breed!