Cornell launches website to help phase out genetic hip and elbow problems in dogs

Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine is going online to try to prevent future generations of dogs from suffering from hip and elbow dysplasia.

The university recently launched the Cornell Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) website, featuring a database where the public can search through records of more than a million registered purebred and designer dogs to gauge the likelihood of hip and elbow dysplasia in their offspring. Through this project, Cornell hopes to eliminate future genetic health issues that are perpetually bred into many puppies.

The website offers hip and elbow health records from the database of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). People can search by a dog's registered name, American Kennel Club registration number, or OFA number, the school said. In addition to hip and elbow scores, the registry features some information about other genetic conditions including patella luxation, thyroid and cardio conditions, and other qualities such as color and behavior.

According to Cornell, putting this information at the public's fingertips can help prospective pet owners make smarter buying decisions, breeders produce healthier litters, and veterinarians treat dogs using better information.

Although the idea isn't new when it comes the breeding of food animals and plants, it is a novel use for dogs, said Rory Todhunter, BVSc, Ph.D., orthopedic surgeon at Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine, in a news release.

"The United Kingdom is the only other country to our knowledge considering such a searchable public database for Labrador retriever dogs," Todhunter said. "Germany has the capacity. In Sweden, you can't breed a dog unless its hip info is in a public registry. Gathering and using genetic information this way will benefit breeds in the long run. This tool puts us one step closer to making healthier individuals."

Another interesting feature on the EBV website allows users to select a male and female virtual breeder and receive an estimate of the genetic quality of the offspring if those two dogs were bred, the university said. 

Registration to access the database is free and is available at the Cornell Estimated Breeding Value website.

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