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Canine Behavioral Genetics Project at the Finals


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For handlers and everyone else heading to Gettysburg next week, my project will be at the Finals from the first day (Tuesday 9/18) through the double lift finals on Sunday (9/23).


I'll be there with two colleagues: Dr. Nick Branson, our veterinarian/PhD postdoc stationed at Penn, and Donna Dyer, our vet tech extraordinaire. We'll be collecting samples from dogs the entire time we are there, so if you would like to participate let me know and we can work out a time (or time range) to get together.


We will have a booth, probably near the eye clinic booth, so we should be easy to find. I will also be circulating around, catching up with old friends and volunteering in various capacities most likely.


As at Soldier Hollow, we hope to collect a goodly number of samples from handlers' dogs, to expand our sample of working Border Collies (defined objectively, i.e., not by my subjective assessment, but as "dogs qualified to run in the national finals, and relatives/working kennelmates of those dogs"). We prefer to collect blood samples, 3cc-5cc per dog (which is approximately 1/3 of a tablespoon or less) or, if blood is not feasible, cheek swab samples.


We are preparing to run the samples we get on Affymetrix canine SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) chips, which survey about 130,000 markers PER DOG. Cheek swab samples, while useful for many analyses, are not suitable for the Affymetrix platform. (They don't contain enough DNA, and the DNA they contain is contaminated by microbial DNA.) This is why we prefer blood. At this time, the significance of most of these markers for disease status is not known, but with current and ongoing advances in the field this situation is likely to change. Though I can't make any promises, this means that by participating you have the opportunity to have 130,000 possible genetic tests done on your dog, for no charge other than the time and effort it will take you to fill out a questionnaire and mail a copy of a pedigree to us.


At the very least, you'll be helping us out with a pioneering, and currently unique, study into the genetics of behavior. We are currently investigating the genetics of noise phobia in Border Collies, with plans to expand the study to understand the mechanisms and genetics of hearing acuity and response to auditory commands in working dogs. In addition, collection of these samples will allow us to do a comprehensive survey of genetic diversity within Border Collies, and address questions such as whether or not there is a genetic "split" between Border Collies bred for different purposes, such as show vs. working.


Thanks for reading! Hope to see you there.

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Melanie - Can you bring some of the survey forms? I really messed Megan's up and will also do one for Celt. If you want to add Bute to the study, I can get a sample kit from you and do that at home after I get back.

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Yup, I'll bring them with me!


You also have the option to fill them out online now:


(1) Go to http://www.k9behavioralgenetics.com (new site still partly under construction but up and running)


(2) Click on "kits"


(3) Fill out short form (this will be redundant to what you have already done but it is a necessary step)


(4) Check your email for automated reply with username and password


(5) Log in at website


(6) Voila, questionnaire!


If you have any problems filling this out, let me know. I'll have hard copy forms with me at the Finals as well if you prefer that.


Thanks -- see you there!

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Melanie - Since I have a very slow dial-up here, and won't have time to do anything before the Finals, I'd be happy to fill out a hard copy there. Or, if it's better for you (no data entry on your end?), I can do them when I get back from Gettysburg. See you there and hope it's a very successful time for you getting samples and such.


Best wishes!

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My wee beasties are willing to donate, but I am not planning to bring them to the Finals.


I will be there for a couple of short stints though, in the middle of the week, and can bring them with me if it's helpful, unless it's wicked hot.


If you'd rather I just do it by mail I can.


Would you let me know what's best?


Nash is ABCA registered and *ahem* working.


Niahm of course has no history, but she saw a sheep yesterday and went into crouch mode.


I can't volunteer Starr without asking first, but you know she's the most splendid example of a fabulous smart working dog in the whole world. Not that I'm prejudiced, or anything. :rolleyes:

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You know I can't make the Finals - but - if I sent you a sample collected here of one of my dogs, who has two near relatives at the Finals, does that mean that sample can be used to determine his CEA genotype also? It only costs $22 to have blood drawn at my new vet, I've found out. Ben has been going every two weeks to make sure certain symptoms we noticed during his RMFS spell don't return, so it would be super easy to get Ted in there too at the same time.


Oh, you should stop by and pick it up. Yeah, that would work. :rolleyes:

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You guys are the bestest!


Collecting blood on the spot or having it collected and shipping it are both feasible. For the latter option, what I need to know is your mailing address (or SOME mailing address, if you are afraid of me knowing where you live, muhuhahahaha) and I will send you a kit that includes tubes for collection, suitable packaging for sending the sample back to us, complete instructions, and a prepaid FedEx label for overnight return. How's that for service?


If you're gonna be at the Finals you have to at least stop by and say hi!

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