Wisdom Health (formally MARS Veterinary) provided the following information to the McNab Shepherd Registry upon completion of the McNab Genetic Study to help answer any frequently asked questions about the study.
McNab Research Project FAQs
I hear a McNab research project was carried out by Wisdom Health. What testing was done?
Wisdom Health worked with a group of McNab enthusiasts and breeders to collect samples from dogs. These samples were evaluated for their genetic signature and found to support the creation of a breed signature for the McNab. The tested dogs were also evaluated for certain physical traits and over 100 disease-causing mutations to help establish a baseline for these in the McNab population. A full report of the study and the findings are documented in the group report which has been shared with the McNab Shepherd Registry who can share it with interested parties.
Can the data be shared?
The raw data used to generate each dog’s results will not be shared with anyone as the markers used in the analysis form part of the proprietary testing platform used in the Wisdom Health tests. However, the results of our analysis from the individually tested dogs are being shared with thee owners who submitted he samples. These results cannot be shared with others unless Wisdom Health is given express permission by the owner on record to do so.
I have tested my dogs in other labs. Is the data the same?
Wisdom Health uses a proprietary marker panel to establish each dog’s unique genetic signature. The Wisdom Health test relies on Illumina® microarray chip technology which generates a comprehensive result for over 1800 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) ancestry markers. The data generate in the course of establishing the breed ancestry results is not the same nor transferable to other tests as this is a unique panel.
Some of our products also test for more than 150 disease-causing mutations and more than 20 physical traits. The results of certain disease or trait markers (e.g. the FGF allele which drives coat length) obtained through other laboratories may be equivalent to those obtained using the Wisdom Health tests. However, this depends on which variant(s) the other laboratory tested.
Parentage tests using microsatelite panels are not equivalent to the SNP-based marker panels employed by Wisdom Health.
I want to include my dog in the breed database. How do I do that?
Though Wisdom Health carried out the testing and research on the samples, the sample collection efforts were spearheaded by members of the McNab Shepherd Registry. Efforts to ensure that the database fully encompasses the various family lines and the branches of the breed were carried out but it is it is possible that some lines may be less well represented in the current dataset.
Note that Wisdom Health does make an effort to maintain an update database of reference samples and does do periodic updates to the database to ensure that the breed signatures remain current and provide ample coverage of the genetics present in the population of all breeds we cover.
Why were certain dogs picked to be included in the study?
Because the breed has not previously had an established studbook or breed registry, establishing the breed signature starts by evaluating the dogs deemed by the breeders and enthusiast to be representative of the McNab. The inclusion of dogs related, even distantly, to foundation stock ensures that the signature includes some of the early genetic contributors which may be found more widely in the present-day population. The strength of the signature and its ability to identify the extensive variation of McNabs does rely on having a robust signature that incorporates the genetics found across many family lines in the breed.
The selection of dogs was the results of efforts of the members of the McNab Shepherd Registry who worked with breeders and enthusiasts throughout the USA in order obtain the samples. Please reach out to the following email if you have questions about the selection process that was employed:
That does Wisdom Health test for?
Depending on the test version used, the Wisdom Health tests provide information about a dog’s breed ancestry, going back three generations, as well as certain traits, and disease—causing mutations such as MDR1 (or ivermectin sensitivity). You can see what is included in the various versions here.
Can the Wisdom Health tests identify McNabs?
The work carries out as part of this research project did successfully generate a unique signature that can be used to identify McNab ancestry in tested dogs. However, before the breed is included in our commercial product, some additional work is necessary. None of the commercially available tests include the McNab at this time.
When can I use the Wisdom Health to test my McNab?
The McNab is not yet included in any of the commercial breed detection Wisdom Health products. We anticipate that thee breed may be included a little later this year.
What happens if I test my McNab before the breed is part of the test?
If a McNab is tested with any of the Wisdom Health tests today, we would expect the algorithm to attempt o describe the dog’s ancestry by finding the best matches to over 250+ breeds, types, and varieties present in our database. Therefore, the results will depend upon the genetic relatedness of the tested dog to the breeds available in out database. For example, A Dutch Shepherd (closely related genetically to the Belgian Shepherd dog, but not currently covered by the Wisdom Health) might result in a report that contains some amount of Belgian Shepherd dog. Because the McNab is closely related to the Border Collie. It would not be surprising to see a report with evidence of this breed but other herding breeds as well as some less related breeds might also be reported.
Once the McNab is included in the Wisdom Health test, how do I test my dog?
Once the McNab moves from being part of our research study and is incorporated into one of our commercially available products, you can purchase a kit directly from www.wisdompanel.com. The test is performed using a check swab sample you can obtain from your dog. Visit the website for more detailed instructions on the logistics involved in obtaining and submitting a sample.
How does Wisdom Health analyze a dog’s DNA data to make a final breed determination?
All breed determinations are made by our patented computer algorithm. With each tested dog’s DNA, more than seventeen million repetitive comparisons are made using a complex statistical algorithm. This algorithm scans the 1800 genetic markers collected and looks for matches to breed signature. It provides a marker by marker certainty for breed match. The computer then selects the single best combination of breeds and relative amounts of breeds detected that match the tested DNA sample from this comparison with our extensive database of purebred signatures.
Will the test show that I have a pure McNab?
Once the breed is included in the commercial product, a sample submitted for testing against the more than 250 breeds, types, and varieties that are included in our database. The test will perform various statistical analyses to see which breed or combination of breeds best describes the breed’s ancestry and the tree with the best statistical score will be chosen. If the purebred tree is the best fit for the dog’s genetic ancestry and the genetic signature matches the McNab signature we generated, the report would be expected to indicate that the dog’s signature was consistent with the genetic signature we created for the McNab.
I want to register my dog as a McNab. What do I need to do?
Mars Veterinary is not involved in the registering of dogs but simply the provision of information regarding a dog’s breed ancestry, physical traits, and certain genetic mutations.
How far back in a dog’s ancestry does the Wisdom Health test?
The test is able to detect purebred ancestors going back three generations, to the great grandparent level.
What does having a genetic signature for the breed mean for the McNab over time?
By establishing a reference genetic signature for the McNab, breeders and enthusiasts will have an additional tool at their disposal to incorporate into their breeding program. By working on concentrating the percentage of McNab found in each subsequent generation and breeding for traits and behaviors deemed to be definitive of the breed, breeders will solidify the breed’s genetic signature and ensure that the McNab remains a genetically distinct breed which can be easily differentiated from its close cousins.
Who is Wisdom Health?
At Wisdom Health (formerly Mars Veterinary), our mission is to facilitate responsible pet care by enhancing the well-being and relationship between pets, pet owners, breeders, shelters and veterinarians through valuable insights into pets as individuals.
We have spent nearly two decades researching canine genetics starting with our instrumental role in Canine Genomics in 1999. Wisdom Health was established in 2005 and since that time our team of scientists and geneticists have been analyzing canine DNA and identifying the most useful DNA SNP markers to distinguish between different dog breeds. Using that set of more than 1800 markers and DNA samples from each breed, our researchers have developed signatures (patterns) specific to each breed.
To date, the Wisdom Health database of breed signatures is the largest in the world (more than 15,000 samples) with more than 250 breeds, types and varieties represented and we are expanding it every year. In addition we hold the worldwide exclusive license on the breed detection analysis process developed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute making our tests the only ones in the world with this technology.
We continue to work with researchers in the field such as Washington State University to license the MDR1 multi-drug sensitivity test, and Genoscoper Laboratories® in Finland for our extensive disease screening and diversity testing to expand our offerings for consumers, breeders, veterinarians, and shelters alike. We believe in the important role genetics can play in making a better world for our four-legged family members. By using DNA to discover a dog’s ancestry and screen for genetic diseases, pet owners and veterinarians can work together to proactively address the one-of-a-kind needs of each unique dog. Simply put, when you know the breeds in your dog you know a lot more about how to make them happy and healthy.