Implementation of EBVs for health and behavioural traits at Guide Dogs UK

This presentation will describe a 6-year project undertaken with Guide Dogs UK to investigate the potential for using quantitative genetic techniques to increase the accuracy of selection decisions.  The approach to heritability estimation of health and behavioural traits recorded by Guide Dogs, along with the challenges of working with the database of the world’s largest breeder of working dogs and using data not purposely collected for this use, will be discussed.  Pure breed and simple crossbreed models were used, and many health and behavioural traits were found to be heritable in the German Shepherd Dog, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever and Labrador/Golden Retriever crosses.  The collaborative determination of which of these traits could be considered selection priorities will be described.  Heritability and genetic correlation estimates will be presented and the implementation of estimated breeding values (EBVs) for six health traits, and an eight-trait behavioural selection index, will then be outlined.

Authors: Katy M. Evans, Thomas W. Lewis, Matthew Bottomley, Gary C.W. England, Sarah C. Blott