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Test for Coat Length

Variation in the gene FGF5 has been shown by researchers at Michigan University to determine coat length in dogs. Long coats show a recessive mode of inheritance: two copies of the long-hair form of the gene are necessary for a dog to have a long coat - dogs with one copy of the long-hair form and one copy of the short-hair form have short coats but can pass the long-haired trait on to their offspring.

Currently this test applies to Weimeraners, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Border Collies  and German Shepherds.  

Samples should be submitted as mouth swabs, available free of charge from the AHT. Samples for testing should be sent, together with a completed DNA Testing form and payment PRICE LIST for each sample to Genetic Services, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7UU.

DNA testing forms can be downloaded by clicking here.

Enquiries or requests for swab kits should be made to Symone Ingram telephone +44 (0) 1638 555621 or fax +44 (0) 1638 555643 or via e-mail to swab.request@aht.org.uk).

A description of the research underlying this test can be found in:

Housley,D.J.E. and Venta,P.J. (2006) The long and the short of it: evidence that FGF5 is a major determinant of canine 'hair'-itability. Animal Genetics 37, 309-315



Canine Parentage Testing

Labrador puppiesDNA technology can be used to determine parentage. Individuals have two copies of every piece of DNA, one inherited from the mother and the other from the father. If we can distinguish these two DNA strands in the laboratory we can test whether a particular father (or occasionally mother) is a true parent. DNA markers, spaced at intervals along the chromosomes, enable us to sample the DNA of an individual dog. The profile of these DNA markers in an offspring must correspond to those in the parents. Any anomalies exclude that particular animal as a parent of that individual. In a typical paternity case, there will be two or more possible fathers, but only the DNA profile of the true father will correspond fully to the DNA profile of the offspring. Samples can be submitted as either blood samples (2-3mls in an EDTA tube) or as cheek swabs (cheek swabs available from the Animal Health Trust free of charge).  We can only accept either all blood samples, or all mouth swabs for canine parentage testing.

This test requires 2mls EDTA/Mouth Swabs. Samples for testing should be sent, together with a completed DNA Testing form and payment of PRICE LIST for each blood sample or swab kit, to Genetic Services, Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7UU.

Enquiries should be made to Symone Ingram telephone +44 (0) 1638 555621 or fax +44 (0) 1638 555643 or via e-mail to dnatesting@aht.org.uk.



Current canine research at the AHT

Research into additional canine inherited conditions is ongoing at the AHT, including

  • Primary lens luxation in terrier breeds (in collaboration with David Sargan (University of Cambridge) and David Gould (Davies Veterinary Specialists)

  • Sebaceous adenitis in Standard Poodles,

  • Cerebellar ataxia in Italian Spinones.

  • Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia in Golden Retrievers

  • Idiopathic epilepsy in Border Collies

We are also collecting samples from dogs of other breeds affected with any of the conditions listed above.

Current research (more details)


Potential DNA (Parentage Test) - within the UK

The two email below explain my initiative for facilitating a DNA parentage test here in the United Kingdom, and one that is compatible with the SV DNA parentage system, and which could be administered by the GSD Partnership. - January 2009

From: David Payne
Sent: 10 January 2009 09:07
Wendy; Andrew Winfrow; Brigid Newlands; Sheila Rankin
Carole Lister; Chris Hazell; David Hall; John Ward; Nikki Farley; Paul Bradley; Philip Prince; Steve Foran
Subject: CANINE DNA TESTING and DNA profiling LINKING with DNA parentage testing

To: The GSD Breed Council & BAGSD & The GSD League (The GSD-UK  Partnership)

I am very interested in a DNA Parentage Testing System being introduced in the UK for German Shepherd Dogs. I would also wish this to be linked with an Identification System of a Tattoo/Microchip requirement.

I contacted the Animal Health Trust by telephone and discussed at length what they currently offer, following which I wrote my email below to the persons I was advised could provide the answers to my consequential questions.

I received a reply from Nigel Holmes (below) and his reply offers considerable potential for the introduction of a DNA Parentage Testing System within the United Kingdom for our breed.

I would NOT hold my breath waiting for the Kennel Club to facilitate this, however with our new and potentially very promising GSD-UK Partnership being inaugurated recently, I felt this issue would be perfect for them to facilitate for our breed here in the UK. This would clearly demonstrate that the GSD-UK Partnership are proactive in introducing valuable Systems into the UK for our breed, in line with their individual Organisations history in relation to The Hip Scheme, The Tattoo Scheme and Haemophilia testing scheme.

I hope the GSD-UK Partnership will pursue this initiative with some vigour and determination, Our breed needs such an approach with its attendant publicity, it will certainly generate enthusiasm and support for your current dealings with The Kennel Club.

I have emailed Reinhardt Meyer SV National Breed Warden, separately regarding compatibility  of the AHT and SV DNA Parentage Tests. I can forward you a copy of my email if you wish.

Best regards
David Payne

From: NIGEL HOLMES (Animal Health Trust (AHT)
09 January 2009 15:00
To: David Payne; MARK VAUDIN
Subject: RE: CANINE DNA TESTING - LINK ON MY WEBSITE? and DNA profiling LINKING with DNA parentage testing

Dear David,
Thank you for your e-mail
Please do go ahead and put a link to our web-site.
We do offer profiling and parentage. although the two schemes are not identical.

Our parentage service is currently run on a confidential basis to the client - however, if GSD clubs wanted us to set up a system where results could be released to the club or clubs then we could certainly do that. it would be made clear on the form that results would be sent on a regular basis to a third party and clients would then sign to confirm that they had read and agreed with those terms. Any breeder not signing could not, therefore, submit a sample for that profiling/parentage service. The current DNA profiling service is a separate scheme from our parentage scheme - the profiling scheme is in fact run jointly with the Kennel Club whereas the parentage scheme is not.

I am not sure why our results would not be compatible with those of other laboratories, such as those in the SV Germany scheme that you quote. However, the current situation for DNA profiling of dogs is not as straightforward as it could be and there are several standards in operation. We use a standard from the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) which is supported by a two year international comparison test run by that organisation - this enables us (and other laboratories around the world) to standardise the profiles which we hold on our databases and ensures that the profiles from one laboratory are compatible with those from other laboratories. We can therefore exchange profiles with other laboratories  and use those profiles, for example for verifying parentage. The original ISAG standard (ISAG2004) has now been replaced by another standard ISAG2006. We can do profiles to either standard, although our joint AHT/KC Profiling Scheme is run on ISAG2004. We do however do parentage analysis to ISAG2006. I would need to know a little more about the technical details of the SV Germany scheme to be able to confirm whether their profiles are compatible with either of these ISAG standards - although most European testing labs do use the ISAG standards.

I hope that answers your questions,
Nigel Holmes (AHT)


IDENTITY with a tattoo and/or microchip & DNA parentage testing

Accurate identification by Tattoo and/or Microchip, and absolute certainty of parentage and pedigree, are fundamental to all health screening tests. Without them all health screening becomes a lottery, It is far too easy to substitute one dog with another to pass a health screening test. Trust is a luxury few can afford with our breeds future health tests, and all pedigree dogs health tests. We should not be expected to rely on trust for identification and pedigree accuracy, it is obvious nonsense and totally unacceptable. 

People ask me why do I retain so many males in my Kennel, and why do I only use males in Germany when I use a male outside of my kennel? The answer is simple, I know my dogs are who they are, and all their health tests are genuine, I also know the dogs I use in Germany have compulsory DNA parentage tests, many for several generations, and tattooing has been compulsory for many years in Germany and tattoos are checked with all paperwork prior to health tests. They are also checked at all Shows, and all breed qualification tests and trials including the Körung. 

Compare that with what happens here in Great Britain. Any dog can have any British health test without any proof of identification. The list includes BVA/KC hip & elbow tests, Haemophilia tests and the existing DNA tests for any disease. What a joke! There is no requirement or checks at Kennel Club licensed shows of a dogs tattoo or microchip, they are simply not required, along with no check of any dogs pedigree or KC registration prior to being allowed to compete. 

Does it take extraordinary intelligence to be able to understand the absolute need for compulsory identification and compulsory DNA parentage tests? I think not! So I ask myself, why is it not introduced by the Kennel Club? I believe the answer to this question lies in the certain exposure of the frightening truth about too many pedigree dogs in too many breeds,

We must make compulsory identification and compulsory DNA parentage testing our highest priority for pedigree dogs here in the United Kingdom.