Background: Inbreeding is a phenomenon that accumulates through the mating of relatives within closed populations, such as pedigree dog breeds, and results in reduced genetic variation within breeds, and may lead to poorer health and fertility from inbreeding depression. The impact of inbreeding is driven by the selection and mating of parents, but information on choices to reduce inbreeding is difficult to assess for individual breeders. Tools to inform dog breeders on the current state of the inbreeding and the relationships among possible parents are potentially useful for providing guidance towards choices that are more beneficial to the breed. However, their utility depends on their usage and this study examines the usage of Mate Select, a web-based tool offered by The Kennel Club, covering 222 breeds for a period of 7 years following its launch in 2011.ResultsThe average usage was 2830 searches/week in 2012 with a slight fall of 2.2% per year (P<0.001) to 2480 searches/week in 2018. Of these, 4% originated from outside the UK, across all continents except Antarctica, with the majority coming from English speaking countries. Searches/week showed a cyclical pattern with two cycles of 26.0 and 50.11 weeks. Sin¬¬¬¬ce Mate Select’s launch there has been a steady increase in searches from mobile devices, from 11% in 2012 to 43% in 2018. For the 197 breeds with more than 10 dams registered with the Kennel Club during the study period, there was a relationship between usage and registrations, with the average number of searches as a multiple of the number of dams increasing from 2 to 10 for breeds with up to 70 dams and declining towards 2 again for the largest breeds with approximately 20,000 registered dams. However, there remained substantial variation among breeds of similar size, and breeds for which EBVs had become available during the study period had a 2.46 fold greater frequency of searches per registered bitch (P<0.001), but this was not linked directly to the publication of EBVs.Conclusions Mate Select has sustained and substantial usage, although there is also substantial variation in usage among breeds, which offers an opportunity to develop further guidance.
- Mate Select