Dachshunds and Data: Developing a tool to help dog breeders predict genetic risks

Sophie Carr of Bays Consulting Ltd. and Ian Seath presented this at the Operational Research Society’s OR56 conference yesterday.  It shows why and how they developed an Excel tool to look at the risks of breeding dogs affected by a form of epilepsy.

There are a growing number of DNA tests to help dog breeders identify potential breeding pairs that could be affected by inherited diseases.  In particular, Miniature Wirehaired Dachshunds are known to suffer from a form of Epilepsy called Lafora Disease.  Whilst there are two different tests available to determine if a Dachshund carries the autosomal recessive mutation, not every dog is tested.  Consequently this creates 4 populations: tested; untested; clinically affected (i.e. showing symptoms) and clinically not affected.

What was required was a simple, robust approach to support informed decisions about which pairs of dogs could breed whilst minimising the number of puppies with Lafora disease.  As part of an OR Pro bono project an Excel tool was developed to evaluate the risk factors associated with the mutation status of DNA tested and untested dogs.  The results of the project will be used as part of an education programme to help breeders understand why DNA testing for Lafora Disease is so important.  This presentation explains the maths and probability theory that lies behind this problem and shows how the tool was developed.

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