GSA DNA Testing Update July 2nd 2002

Update on DNA and Registration Programme. The first batches of DNA tests have been returned from the lab and we are currently processing them, registering the dogs on our database and issuing the documentation.
Some small but important points to highlight for your attention. The dog must be clean and dry for the test to be effective. Important to note here is that the dog’s coat must not have been sprayed with any chemical, including pest medication, nor have been recently washed with shampoo that has not been thoroughly rinsed, better here to err on the safe side and not to have washed the dog for at least fourteen days prior to the test. Coat sprays used for showing should not be used before samples are taken.
All supporting documentation must be presented before the sample can be sent to the lab. This includes a five generation pedigree which will be retained, copy of the hip score documents, copy of the Tattoo Register document, copy of the chip implant record and copies of the work and or show record book. If the dog has a recognised breed survey, a copy of the survey report should also be presented.
As we have already announced, at next years Sieger show and subject to ratification,in order to participate in GSA Nationals and be on the WUSV World Championship team, dogs will be required to have taken a DNA test.
With regard to the Sieger show this will be a requirement for all classes except the puppy and from year 2004 it will be a requirement in order to achieve the V grade.
In addition all dogs regardless of age that are the resulting progeny of tested animals will have to have the accuracy of the presented pedigree authenticated by a successful test in order to participate in GSA events.
Outlined here is the rationale behind the scheme, the procedure that will be followed and an attempt to address some of the queries raised to date.
What is DNA: Very basically, every living creature is composed of cells.
Each of these cells consists of a chemical structure.This chemical structure is Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA. A piece of chromosome that dictates a particular trait is called a gene.
The structure of DNA is composed of a double helix of genetic material spiralled around each other.
This helix is made up of four base chemicals that will only bond with the chemical of the other helix in a particular and known way.
For instance chemical A will only bond with chemical T. Although the chemical structure of every German Shepherd (and person) is the same there are so many millions of combinations of sequences that by using known sequences of repeating patterns scientists can determine with a very high degree of certainty whether two DNA samples are from the same dog, a related dog or an unrelated dog.
This allows us the incredible advantage of being able to use DNA sampling to identify any particular tested dog, prove beyond reasonable doubt parentage accuracy and ensure dogs presented for hip X-Ray or other genetically inherited problems are in fact the dog presented. No more need for doubt.

From a very practical perspective, dogs who are taken abroad have the added safe guard of having on record proof that the dog complies with the requirements of the Pet Passport scheme (in the unlikely event of the Micro Chip not been found) or in the event of a dispute involving the return of a lost or stolen dog scientific proof of identity and ownership.
Please do not be deterred by the detractors of this science.
Every DNA scheme must start somewhere. The controls we have put in place for initial additions to our database are much more stringent than anything that exists currently and once the database is established we can be confident and proud of our scheme.
How Does it Work and Who Does it. GSA has secured the services of an internationally accredited laboratory that will carry out our testing.
This laboratory is regarded as one of the most technologically advanced in the world and carries out this service for the racehorse industry.
This laboratory is a member of “The International Society of Animal Genetics” and has access to profile databases worldwide.
They will maintain the profile database for us.
GSA has set up a database and have acquired pedigree-generating software and will record and maintain the information relevant to our scheme.
Dogs presented will only be tested if the permanent identification requirement is met. (See procedure below) When the test result is returned we will issue a certificate recording the fact that the animal has been tested, his/her I.D. number, work and conformation record book number, working qualification, conformation rating (notes to explain this will be published in the near future), Hip status and Haemophilia status and whether this information is supported by our quality control scheme.
The certificate can also contain the dog’s breed survey report and can be returned to GSA for updating as required.
The certificate will have a section to be signed and stamped by the Vet when the dog is presented for X-Ray confirming that he/she has checked the I.D. of the dog and that the I.D conforms with the I.D on the certificate.
Our test is very simple. It requires only a hair root follicle for testing and we are advised that this sample or sperm samples are the best sources available for DNA for testing.
Initially the scheme administrator will be Bobby Behan and his contact address is on our contacts page.
We will have many new and innovative systems in place built around this scheme and details of these will be published here soon.
G.S.A. Ireland DNA testing Scheme.
This document outlines the procedures to be implemented for the DNA testing and recording of GSA registered German Shepherd Dogs. This document should be read in conjunction with the GSA documentation relevant to our registration and recording procedures.
Ø GSA will provide the designated person to carry out the test. Only tests carried out by this person and complying with these procedures will be valid for recording purposes.
Ø Animals to be tested must be tattooed by a recognised scheme where the tattoo number is on record (National Tattoo Register/S.V.) and produce documentation to support this, or have been micro chipped with an ISO approved microchip. It will be the responsibility of the owner of the dog to ensure the tattoo is clearly legible and that the chip can be read. Dogs not meeting this requirement cannot be tested.
Ø GSA will provide an ISO approved microchip reader, documentation, and return the sample to the designated laboratory.
Our designated Laboratory is Internationally accredited and a member of “The International Society of Animal Genetics”. All profiles taken by member laboratories are fully compatible with each other and are bound to forward profiles on request to other member labs on request, and free of charge. Dogs tested in other Countries by member laboratories can easily be added to our database.
Ø The required sample is a hair root follicle. This sample will be taken by the tester from the positively identified dog, placed and sealed in the container by the tester in the presence of the dog owner. The tester and owner of the dog will sign the seal as testimony of compliance with this procedure.
Ø The cost of the test including a minimum administration fee will be paid in full, in cash, before the test will be taken. GSA will issue a receipt to this effect. In the unlikely event of a dispute arising the test can/will be carried out again at the owners expense. The designated laboratory has full International accreditation and is one of the worlds most technologically advanced.
Ø The Laboratory will maintain a database of all DNA information. GSA will maintain a database recording all relevant registration information. GSA will provide registration documents and also “certification of breed worthiness” (see relevant registration document).
GSA will update documentation as required. Owners are responsible for submitting to GSA all documentation in their possession for updating as required. Owners will return documentation by registered post or by hand to the designated GSA personnel. Records delivered by hand will be receipted. A minimum administration fee and registered post costs will be born by the dog owner.
Ø GSA will have the right to publish all registration information and take DNA random samples at GSA events where this stipulation has been included on the entry documentation.
Why Did we not Use the S.V. Scheme: The S.V were the pioneers of DNA testing for German shepherd dogs.
GSA fully support this initiative but we feel that the testing procedure we have put in place is much more practical and relevant to Irish GSD enthusiast for a number of reasons.
The most important reason is that we want to legitimise showing, breeding and screening here in Ireland. The S.V test is really only relevant to those who wish to show or trial in Germany.
We understand that tests taken in Germany are compatible with our scheme and so no advantage is gained. The S.V. test requires a blood sample – ours does not.
This presents us with two additional advantages. One is cost; it is not necessary to visit the Vet. The cost of our scheme exclusive of the Vet fees is cheaper than those we have compared, with the addition of a Vet fee the cost difference is considerable.
While we accept without reservation the integrity of the Veterinary profession the fact that we take the sample ourselves ensures with out doubt the procedures and protocols are fully complied with.
A vet dealing with a regular client may not be inclined to check the I.D. as carefully as we would wish.
Additionally our scheme allows for random Q.C. checks. We can easily take samples at any time or location without the need of a Vet.
This would be difficult if not impractical using the S.V test. Our test results are returned within 14 to 21 days.
It is important to note here, microchip I.D. is not acceptable for the S.V. scheme, only tattoo number is acceptable. We are not certain how the S.V. could control the relevance of the number. Micro Chip will become the normal method if I.D for all animals in the future, we believe this is the best method from the point of view of accurately reading the number, and it is less stressful for the animal.
How Does it Happen And How Much Does it Cost:
The designated GSA administrator will take samples at trials, shows and by arrangement at GSA training grounds. Groups or clubs who wish to have a reasonable number of dogs tested may arrange with the administrator a visit to their event.
Dogs for testing must have an I.S.O. standard chip inserted or a tattoo administered by The National Tattoo Register scheme or by a scheme recognised by GSA/WUSV. It is advisable to have the location of the chip checked before the test.
A chip that cannot be found or read will result in the dog not being tested and owners should ensure the tattoo number is clearly legible. Tattoo numbers that are not clear will not be recorded.
The dog owner must bring the documentation supporting the chip number or Tattoo number and a copy of the dog’s pedigree. The tester will wish to retain the pedigree copy. Following the recording of the relevant information a hair sample will be taken from the dog. This does not entail shaving or any procedure of discomfort and no evidence of the removal remain on the dog.
The hair sample is placed in the container and a label with the relevant numbers is used to seal this container. The administrator and the dog owner sign the label and testimony of procedure compliance.
The test sample is then sent to the lab and on receipt of the test result GSA will issue to the dog owner a certificate with the registration information.
This certificate has the facility to hold all information relevant to the dog and will be used to authenticate a variety of standards.
Sample copies of the certificate are available as below.
Costs: The initial cost of the test and certificate issue is €50. This cost covers the lab fees, a contribution to the chip reader cost, pedigree generating software, postage, stationary and administration.
In the event of a breeder wishing to record a litter there will be a cost of €40 per puppy.
Updating recorded information, i.e., additional working degree, show grade, hip score, breed survey etc €4.00
Change of ownership: The certificate is returned to GSA with the addition of the new owner, name and address detail and a stamped addressed envelope (or in the event of the new owner from outside ROI a postal order to the value of 0.50 Cent). GSA administrator will confirm the new ownership and issue an amended cert. Cost €4.00. Sample registration certificate, requires the receipt of a stamped addressed envelope (or 0.50 cent postal order outside ROI) and postal order value €1.00.
These costs have been kept to the absolute minimum. GSA are not interested in profiting from this service.
We are fully committed to this initiative and it’s success or failure is in the hands of the German Shepherd Dog owning fraternity.
GSA will be arranging public meeting to explain and discuss the scheme and issuing press releases in the near future.
Please feel free to contact us for information or if there is any issue you wish to discuss or to arrange testing for your club or group.