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Parentage Testing

Parentage analysis has become routine practice for many breeders. Many breed societies mandate such testing to be done before they will accept the litter to the register. From DNA marker based parentage testing, it is possible to categorically include or exclude individuals as parents. If both parents are known, dogs which are suspected to be siblings can be tested against known progeny and if the tested individual has a DNA marker which is not present in parents it can be excluded as a sibling. Cost of these tests is decreasing as it becomes more commonplace to perform them. Parentage testing is employed in suspected mismating, to resolve disputes regarding alleged parentage. It may be used to confirm parentage when frozen semen was used provided a sample or profile on the donor is available. It can positively confirm identity of imported breeding stock. It can confirm parentage of puppies in cases of multi-sire breedings. It may also be used when a natural mating was performed on a bitch which had already been inseminated with semen from another sire and certify identity of the sire when using artificial insemination. The analysis involves sampling via a cheek swab or blood based sampling. Samples from the dam, puppy(s) and potential sires (in suspected multiple paternities) are used as templates in PCR reactions using pieces of DNA called primers which are DNA markers specific for dogs. These DNA markers (called microsatellites) are adapted to be run together (called multiplexing). It has been established that when ≥15 microsatellite markers were used, accuracy in excess of 99% was achieved. We can collect the appropriate samples and forward them to the laboratory for testing.

This type of technology may also assist to confirm breed heritage and identify frequently used sires. Work is in progress to improve these techniques and increase their accuracy, especially for breeds which are not fully represented in existing databases.