Heritabilities for the puppy weight at birth in Labrador retrievers.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Weight at birth is an important predictor of neonatal mortality and morbidity in dogs. In addition, the birthweight of the puppies in a litter influences the decision to perform a cesarean section. The goal of the present study was to estimate heritabilities for the puppy birth weight in Labrador retrievers. RESULTS:Of the 1138 Labrador retriever litters whelped at the Guiding Eye for the Blind between September 2001 and February 2018, 1013 were included in the analyses after data editing. Puppy weight at birth was the target trait, measured on a continuous scale in pounds, and converted to grams. Linear mixed models were used to identify factors influencing puppy weight at birth. The analyses showed that the sex of the puppy, litter size, length of gestation, adult weight of the dam, parity, year of birth and inbreeding coefficient of the puppies and dams contributed to the variance of the puppy birth weight. Dam and litter effects were included as random effects. A multiple trait derivative free restricted maximum likelihood approach was used to estimate variance components and genetic parameters with two animal models, one without covariates (Model 1) and one with covariates (Model 2). Sex of the puppy and litter size had moderate effects, whereas gestation length, adult weight of the dam, parity, year of birth and inbreeding coefficients of the dam and the puppies had minor effects. Estimates for Model 1 and Model 2 were 0.21 and 0.17 for the direct heritabilities, 0.22 and 0.22 for the maternal additive genetic heritabilities, 0.07 and 0.07 for the maternal permanent environmental proportions, and 0.14 and 0.08 for the environmental proportion of the litter. CONCLUSIONS:In order to estimate reliable breeding values for puppy weight at birth, sex of puppy, litter size, length of gestation and the adult weight of the dam should be included. Estimates could benefit from weighing the dams prior to each mating.
Project description:In the past 10 years, the frequency of unplanned cesarean sections in the Labrador Retriever breeding colony at Guiding Eyes for the Blind stayed around 10% (range 5% to 28%). To reduce the number of cesarean sections, factors influencing the occurrence of a cesarean section need to be known. The goal of this study was to identify factors that contribute to the decision to perform a cesarean section.Of the 688 Labrador Retriever litters whelped between 2003 and 2016, 667 litters had sufficient data and remained in the analysis. The target trait was ordinal with the three levels "normal whelping", "assisted whelping" and "cesarean section". A general ordinal logistic regression approach was used to analyze the data. Model selection with possible predictors resulted in a final model including weight of the dam, the weight of the heaviest puppy of a litter, the number of fetuses malpositioned and the quality of uterine contractions. Weight and size of a litter, parity, maternal inbreeding coefficient, whelping season, dam and sire were dropped from the model because they were not significant. The risk of a cesarean section was influenced by the combination of the weight of the dam and the weight of the heaviest puppy in the litter, as well as by the number of malpositioned fetuses and the quality of the contractions. Larger puppies increased the risk of cesarean section especially when the dam had a lighter weight. For dams weighing 23.6 kg and 32.8 kg the predicted probability of a cesarean section was low, with 0.06 and 0.02, respectively, when the heaviest puppy in a litter was light (0.42 kg), contractions were normal and no fetus was malpositioned. However, the probability of a cesarean section was much higher, ranging from 0.24 to 0.08, when the heaviest puppy in a litter was heavy (0.66 kg).Means to reduce the cesarean section frequency in this Labrador Retriever breeding colony should include genetic selection for ideal puppy weight. In addition, dams with an adult body weight substantially below average should not be selected as breeders in this colony.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Neonatal mortality (over the first three weeks of life) is a major concern in canine breeding facilities as an economic and welfare issue. Since low birth weight (LBW) dramatically increases the risk of neonatal death, the risk factors of occurrence need to be identified together with the chances and determinants of survival of newborns at-risk. RESULTS:Data from 4971 puppies from 10 breeds were analysed. Two birth weight thresholds regarding the risk of neonatal mortality were identified by breed, using respectively Receiver Operating Characteristics and Classification and Regression Tree method. Puppies were qualified as LBW and very low birth weight (VLBW) when their birth weight value was respectively between the two thresholds and lower than the two thresholds. Mortality rates were 4.2, 8.8 and 55.3%, in the normal, LBW and VLBW groups, accounting for 48.7, 47.9 and 3.4% of the included puppies, respectively. A separate binary logistic regression approach allowed to identify breed, gender and litter size as determinants of LBW. The increase in litter size and being a female were associated with a higher risk for LBW. Survival for LBW puppies was reduced in litters with at least one stillborn, compared to litters with no stillborn, and was also reduced when the dam was more than 6?years old. Concerning VLBW puppies, occurrence and survival were influenced by litter size. Surprisingly, the decrease in litter size was a risk factor for VLBW and also reduced their survival. The results of this study suggest that VLBW and LBW puppies are two distinct populations. Moreover, it indicates that events and factors affecting intrauterine growth (leading to birth weight reduction) also affect their ability to adapt to extrauterine life. CONCLUSION:These findings could help veterinarians and breeders to improve the management of their facility and more specifically of LBW puppies. Possible recommendations would be to only select for reproduction dams of optimal age and to pay particular attention to LBW puppies born in small litters. Further studies are required to understand the origin of LBW in dogs.
Project description:The 2006 National Research Council (NRC) equation calculating puppy energy requirements does not account for reported breed differences in growth pattern. Energy requirements of toy breed puppies are unknown and it is unclear whether feeding guidelines should differ between breeds. Energy requirements of Yorkshire terrier (YT) puppies were observed over their first year of life and compared with those predicted by the NRC and those previously observed in large (Labrador retriever) and medium (miniature Schnauzer; MS) breed puppies. Twenty-two puppies (from eight litters) were offered complete and balanced diets to maintain ideal body condition score (BCS). Energy intake, body weight and BCS were recorded from 10 to 52 weeks of age. Every 12 weeks, health was monitored by veterinary examination, routine haematology and plasma biochemistry. Puppies remained clinically healthy with normal skeletal development throughout. After analysis by linear mixed models it was observed that the NRC equation overestimates YT energy requirements between 10 and 20 weeks of age by up to 324·3 (95 % CI 390·4, 258·2) kJ/kg<sup>0·75</sup>. Energy intake was lower (<i>P</i> < 0·05) in YT than Labradors until 29 weeks by up to 376·6 (95 % CI 477·4, 275·3) kJ/kg<sup>0·75</sup> and lower than MS between 16 and 25 weeks by up to 216·3 (95 % CI 313·0, 119·7) kJ/kg<sup>0·75</sup> (<i>P</i> < 0·05). Data indicate differences in toy, medium and large breed energy requirements for growth. The NRC equation for puppy energy requirements overestimated the requirements of this YT population, suggesting the need for breed-specific feeding guides for growth to avoid overfeeding.
Project description:Assistance dog puppies live with their raisers for up to 16 months before entering advanced training and, hopefully, becoming qualified to help people with a disability. Almost half of the puppies fail to meet the behavioural standards required for assistance dogs, and some puppy raisers produce more behaviourally favourable puppies than others. It is unclear what factors influence puppy-raising practice quality. To understand this, we interviewed 17 participants, including experienced puppy raisers (n = 8), provider organisation staff (n = 4), and those who have served both as puppy raisers and staff (n = 5). Results of a thematic analysis suggest three groups of influencing factors, namely intrapersonal factors, social support, and puppy characteristics. Intrapersonal factors such as expectations, competency, perseverance and passion were reported to influence puppy raisers' experiences, puppy-raising quality, and continuity of service. Contextual factors such as availability of social support (informational and emotional supports) and less-demanding puppies both led to positive puppy-raising experiences, while the former also contributed to puppy raisers' perceptions of competency. Future research should quantitatively examine the interrelationships of these factors concerning puppies' behavioural development. Meanwhile, organisations could consider these factors when developing their recruitment and puppy-raiser support programs.
Project description:The severity of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome was compared in pregnant gilts originating from high and low birth weight litters. One-hundred and eleven pregnant gilts experimentally infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus on gestation day 85 (±1) were necropsied along with their fetuses 21 days later. Ovulation rates and litter size did not differ between groups, but fetuses from low birth weight gilts were shorter, lighter and demonstrated evidence of asymmetric growth with large brain:organ weight ratios (i.e. brain sparing). The number of intrauterine growth retarded fetuses, defined by brain:organ weight ratios greater than 1 standard deviation from the mean, was significantly greater in low, compared to high, birth weight gilts. Although ?? T cells significantly decreased over time in high compared to low birth weight gilts, viral load in serum and tissues, gilt serum cytokine levels, and litter outcome, including the percent dead fetuses per litter, did not differ by birth weight group. Thus, this study provided no substantive evidence that the severity of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome is affected by dam birth weight. However, intrauterine growth retarded fetuses had lower viral loads in both fetal thymus and in endometrium adjacent to the umbilical stump. Crown rump length did not significantly differ between fetuses that survived and those that died at least one week prior to termination. Taken together, this study clearly demonstrates that birth weight is a transgenerational trait in pigs, and provides evidence that larger fetuses are more susceptible to transplacental PRRSv infection.
Project description:In people, colonization with Clostridioides difficile, the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, has been shown to be associated with distinct gut microbial features, including reduced bacterial community diversity and depletion of key taxa. In dogs, the gut microbiota features that define C. difficile colonization are less well understood. We sought to define the gut microbiota features associated with C. difficile colonization in puppies, a population where the prevalence of C. difficile has been shown to be elevated, and to define the effect of puppy age and litter upon these features and C. difficile risk. We collected fecal samples from weaned (n = 27) and unweaned (n = 74) puppies from 13 litters and analyzed the effects of colonization status, age and litter on microbial diversity using linear mixed effects models. Colonization with C. difficile was significantly associated with younger age, and colonized puppies had significantly decreased bacterial community diversity and differentially abundant taxa compared to non-colonized puppies, even when adjusting for age. C. difficile colonization remained associated with decreased bacterial community diversity, but the association did not reach statistical significance in a mixed effects model incorporating litter as a random effect. Even though litter explained a greater proportion (67%) of the variability in microbial diversity than colonization status, we nevertheless observed heterogeneity in gut microbial community diversity and colonization status within more than half of the litters, suggesting that the gut microbiota contributes to colonization resistance against C. difficile. The colonization of puppies with C. difficile has important implications for the potential zoonotic transfer of this organism to people. The identified associations point to mechanisms by which C. difficile colonization may be reduced.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Puppy acquisition decisions may impact upon the health and behaviour of these dogs in later life. It is widely recommended by welfare organisations and veterinary bodies that puppies should not leave maternal care until at least eight weeks (56 days) of age, and that when acquiring a puppy it should be viewed with its mother. METHODS:Owner-reported prospective data were used to explore risk factors for puppy acquisition age, and whether the mother was viewed during acquisition, within a cohort of dog owners participating in an ongoing longitudinal project. RESULTS:A quarter (461/1844) of puppies were acquired under eight weeks of age and 8.1 per cent were obtained without viewing the mother (n=149). Only 1.6 per cent of puppies were obtained under eight weeks of age and without the mother being seen (n=30). Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that owners who intended their puppy to be a working dog, visited their puppy prior to acquisition, and/or obtained a puppy of unknown breed composition had increased odds of acquiring a puppy under eight weeks of age. The odds also increased as the number of dogs in the household increased but decreased as annual income rose. Owners who visited their puppy prior to acquisition, obtained a Kennel Club registered puppy, viewed the puppy's father, and/or collected their puppy from the breeder's home had decreased odds of acquiring a puppy without viewing the mother. CONCLUSION:Targeting interventions towards identified owners who are more likely to acquire a puppy against current recommendations could help reduce these types of acquisitions.
Project description:This study investigated the influence of sow backfat thickness at 109 d of gestation on sow and piglet performance. Data from 846 farrowing multiparous Yorkshire sows with parity from 3 to 5 were collected from a pig breeding farm. Sows were divided into six groups based on backfat thickness (?16, 17-18, 19-20, 21-22, 23-24, and ?25 mm) at 109 d of gestation. The evaluation of reproductive performance included the litter size, litter weight at birth and at weaning of 21 d, weight of placenta at parturition, placental efficiency, and sow daily feed intake of lactation. Parameters related to plasma lipids and the placental-lipid concentration were measured. Data were analyzed to determine the relationships among backfat thickness, placental lipids, and piglet performance. No differences were observed in the number of piglets born, born alive, after cross-foster, and at weaning among groups (P > 0.05). The litter weight at birth and weaning, piglet birth weight, weaning weight, placental efficiency, and the number and percentage of piglets born with weight of <800 g showed a significantly quadratic effect of the backfat thickness (P < 0.05). During lactation, sow daily feed intake linearly decreased with increased backfat thickness at 109 d of gestation (P < 0.05). Although triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) showed no significant difference, cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations significantly increased (P < 0.05) in both maternal and umbilical cord blood with increased backfat thickness of sow. Placental-lipid concentrations also significantly increased (P < 0.05) with increased backfat thickness. Moreover, backfat thickness and placental-lipid concentration were positively correlated with the number of piglets weighing <800 g (P < 0.01) but negatively correlated with birth weight, litter birth weight, and piglet weaned weight (P < 0.01). In conclusion, backfat thickness of sow at end of gestation correlates with birth and weaning weight of piglets. Placental ectopic lipid accumulation-induced lipotoxicity is likely responsible for such correlation.
Project description:This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of L-arginine supplementation levels during late gestation on reproductive performance and piglet uniformity in high prolific sows. A total of 60 F1 multiparous sows (Yorkshire × Landrace), with an average body weight of 238.2 kg, were allotted to one of three treatment groups in a completely randomized design. The dietary treatments were divided by the supplementation level of arginine during the late-gestation period, from day 70 to farrowing, as follows-(1) CON: corn-soybean meal-based basal diet (Arg 0.72%), (2) Arg10: basal diet + L-Arg 0.28% (Arg 1.0%), and (3) Arg15: basal diet + L-Arg 0.79% (Arg 1.5%). The same lactation diet was provided ad libitum to sows during the lactation period. There were no significant differences in body weight and backfat thickness in sows during late-gestation and lactation. Dietary arginine levels had no significant influences on the number of total born, stillbirth, and born alive. However, increasing inclusion level of L-arginine supplementation tended to increase (p < 0.10) alive litter weight linearly, and also linearly increased (p < 0.05) the piglet weight gain and litter weight gain during the lactation period. In piglet uniformity, the standard deviation of piglet birth weight (p < 0.05) and the coefficient of variation for piglet birth weight (p < 0.10) increased linearly, as dietary arginine levels increased in the late gestation period. Increasing L-arginine supplementation to late gestating sows linearly increased (p < 0.05) the blood concentrations of arginine and ornithine at day 90 and day 110 of gestation. On the other hand, dietary arginine levels in late gestation did not affect the blood parameters related to the nitrogen utilization. Increasing dietary arginine levels for the late gestating sows did not affect the milk composition for colostrum and milk at day 21 of lactation. In conclusion, the inclusion level of arginine in the diet for late gestating sows, by up to 1.5%, could improve the alive litter weight at birth and litter weight gain during lactation, whereas the piglet uniformity at birth was decreased due to the increase of survival for fetuses with light birth weight.
Project description:We investigated (1) the relationship between the estimated breeding values (EBVs) for litter traits at birth and ovulation rate (OR), average corpora luteal weight, uterine length and embryonic survival and development traits in gilts at 35 days of pregnancy by linear regression, (2) the genetic variance of OR, average corpora lutea (CL) weight, uterine length and embryonic survival and development traits at 35 days of pregnancy, and (3) the genetic correlations between these traits. Landrace (n = 86) and Yorkshire × Landrace (n = 304) gilts were inseminated and slaughtered at 35 days of pregnancy. OR was assessed by dissection of the CL on both ovaries. Individual CL was weighed and the average CL weight calculated. The number of embryos (total and vital) were counted and the vital embryos were individually weighed for calculation of within litter average and standard deviation (SD) of the embryo weight. Length of the uterine implantation site of the vital embryos was measured and the average per gilt calculated. Results suggests that increasing the EBV for total number of piglets born would proportionally increase OR and number of embryos, while decreasing the average CL weight. On the contrary, increasing the EBV for average piglet birth weight and for within litter birth weight standard deviation would increase the average CL weight. There was no relationship between the EBVs for BW and for BWSD and vital embryonic weight at 35 days of pregnancy. OR, average CL weight, number of embryos, average weight and implantation length of the vital embryos had all moderate to high heritabilities, ranging from 0.36 (±0.18) to 0.70 (±0.17). Thus, results indicate that there is ample genetic variation in OR, average CL weight and embryonic development traits. This knowledge could be used to optimize the balance between selection for litter size, average piglets birth weight and within litter birth weight uniformity.