Genetic analysis of pre-weaning survival and inbreeding in the Boxer dog breed of South Africa
Members of the Federation of Boxer Clubs in Southern Africa (FBCSA) have participated in official recording for many years. The aim of the study was to estimate genetic parameters and trends for pre-weaning survival and to assess inbreeding in the South African Boxer, based on performance and pedigree data. Fitness records were included from 2138 litters recorded between 1988 and 2012 and pedigree information of 32 029 Boxer dogs recorded from 1950 to 2012. The average litter size was 6.14 ± 2.43. More male puppies were born per litter (3.23 ± 1.79) than female puppies (2.91 ± 1.72), with an increase in the proportion of males in larger litter sizes. Heritability values of 0.23 ± 0.08 and 0.25 ± 0.08 were estimated for litter size (LS) and number of puppies alive at two weeks after birth (NA), respectively. Litters larger than five tended to have more puppies born dead or with low survivability. Number of puppies born dead or that died within two weeks after birth increased from 0.43/litter at first parity to 0.82/litter at fifth parity, with a substantial increase of 2.25/litter with low survivability at seventh parity. Average inbreeding levels of the Boxer breed were above 10%, with an inbreeding rate of 0.14%/year since 1982. These results indicate that FBCSA should focus on lowering the levels of inbreeding by avoiding mating closely related animals. The complete recording of fitness traits is encouraged for effective genetic management of the breed.
Keywords: Fitness, heritability, litter size, number born alive, survivability