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Heritability of hypothyroidism in the Finnish Hovawart population
- Åhlgren, Johanna, Uimari, Pekka
- Acta veterinaria scandinavica 2015 v.58 no.1 pp. 39
- dog breeds, dogs, gender, genetic background, heritability, hypothyroidism, inbreeding, models, pedigree, sires, thyroid gland, Finland
- BACKGROUND: The Hovawart is a working and companion dog breed of German origin. A few hundred Hovawart dogs are registered annually in Finland. The most common disease with a proposed genetic background in Hovawarts is hypothyroidism. The disease is usually caused by lymphocytic thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder which destroys the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can be treated medically with hormone replacement. Its overall incidence could also be reduced through selection, provided that the trait shows an adequate genetic basis. The aim of this study was to estimate the heritability of hypothyroidism in the Finnish Hovawart population. RESULTS: The pedigree data for the study were provided by the Finnish Kennel Club and the hypothyroidism data by the Finnish Hovawart Club. The data included 4953 dogs born between 1990 and 2010, of which 107 had hypothyroidism and 4846 were unaffected. Prior to the estimation of heritability, we studied the effects of gender, birth year, birth month, and inbreeding on susceptibility to hypothyroidism. Heritability was estimated with the probit model both via restricted maximum likelihood (REML) and Gibbs sampling, using litter and sire of the dog as random effects. None of the studied systematic effects or level of inbreeding had a significant effect on susceptibility to hypothyroidism. The estimated heritability of hypothyroidism varied from 0.47 (SE = 0.18) using REML to 0.62 (SD = 0.21) using Gibbs sampling. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our analysis, the heritability of hypothyroidism is moderate to high, suggesting that its prevalence could be decreased through selection. Thus, breeders should notify the breed association of any affected dogs, and their use for breeding should be avoided.