History and structure of the closed pedigreed population of Icelandic Sheepdogs

P.A. Oliehoek, P. Bijma, A. van der Meijden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background - Dog breeds lose genetic diversity because of high selection pressure. Breeding policies aim to minimize kinship and therefore maintain genetic diversity. However, policies like mean kinship and optimal contributions, might be impractical. Cluster analysis of kinship can elucidate the population structure, since this method divides the population in clusters of related individuals. Kinship-based analyses have been carried out on the entire Icelandic Sheepdog population, a sheep-herding breed. Results - Analyses showed that despite increasing population size and deliberately transferring dogs, considerable genetic diversity has been lost. When cluster analysis was based on kinships calculated seven generation backwards, as performed in previous studies, results differ markedly from those based on calculations going back to the founder-population, and thus invalidate recommendations based on previous research. When calculated back to the founder-population, kinship-based clustering reveals the distribution of genetic diversity, similarly to strategies using mean kinship. Conclusion - Although the base population consisted of 36 Icelandic Sheepdog founders, the current diversity is equivalent to that of only 2.2 equally contributing founders with no loss of founder alleles in descendants. The maximum attainable diversity is 4.7, unlikely achievable in a non-supervised breeding population like the Icelandic Sheepdog. Cluster analysis of kinship coefficients can provide a supporting tool to assess the distribution of available genetic diversity for captive population management
Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Number of pages12
JournalGenetics, Selection, Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • dog breeds
  • genetic diversity
  • genomes
  • management
  • animal diseases
  • dogs
  • sheep dogs
  • genome
  • netherlands
  • disease

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'History and structure of the closed pedigreed population of Icelandic Sheepdogs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this