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The canine genome was built on one dog, a boxer. As technology improves and becomes more affordable, more and more canine genomes can be generated to add to our knowledge. The AKC DNA Program’s Genetic Diversity Project is an exciting new initiative to develop the world’s premier database of canine genomic information. This database will generate whole genome sequences of 4000 dogs, representing all AKC-recognized breeds. Using AKC’s rich historical pedigrees, these dogs will represent the genetic diversity of breeds today.

Genetic tests rely on robust breed-specific data, and many health tests were developed in the context of one breed. Caution should be made when extrapolating test results for a separate breed, or even a subgroup of the same breed. Public genomic sequences of dogs are expanding rapidly, but not all breeds are represented equally. For more common breeds, these sequences may not reflect the full spectrum of genetic diversity within the breed.

Historically, when breeders are concerned about a health problem in their breed, a researcher collects samples for at least one to two years. Once they have enough study participants, they then perform the DNA sequencing and bioinformatics that may result in a publication a few years later. With this program, we hope to have data readily available, and therefore remove the years of delay needed for sample collection. It also removes the time and cost of sequencing, so researchers can jump right to the bioinformatics and validation. More effort can then be placed on the crucial step of validation. Once a novel genetic variant is identified, researchers look for the variant in a new group of dogs, separate from the initial group used to find the variant.

Validation helps breeders interpret a novel finding, identify the prevalence of a genetic variant within their breed, and understand the prevalence in other breeds. Often, a genetic variant may be developed in one breed, but may not translate to disease in another.

Sharing of data will be structured under academic data grants, similar in concept to the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

The AKC Genetic Diversity Project Goals:

  • Expedite canine research projects
  • Improve genetic counseling
  • Improve breed health research
  • Evaluate genetic diversity for breed preservation

The AKC DNA Program is inviting you to participate in this project. Participation involves requesting a Research DNA Kit. The submission process is similar to the AKC DNA Kits, but we request 6 swabs instead of two for each dog. We will send you research kits and submission forms to mail back to AKC DNA Operations.

If you or your club would like to participate, please complete the survey and we will be in touch. A national specialty is an excellent opportunity to collect DNA samples from many dogs collected at once!

We will also include Foundation Stock Service® and other rare breeds.

These kits are for research purposes only. They do not fulfill registration requirements. If you would like to purchase an AKC DNA Kit, click here.