What is a DNA Archive?
A DNA archive, otherwise known as a DNA bank, is a collection of DNA samples from different
individuals that are to be stored to an indefinite period of time. The DNA is collected with a view to
using it for future research purposes, as and when it is needed. More information about what the
DNA can be used for is included below in ‘ What can the stored DNA be used for?’
Which dogs should have their DNA stored?
DNA from any dogs can be stored, but it is especially useful to store DNA from dogs that have or
are likely to be bred from and dogs that are known to be closely related to dogs that are affected
with inherited conditions.
What can the stored DNA be used for?
The stored DNA can be used for a variety of purposes. One important use for the DNA is to identify
mutations responsible for inherited diseases; these diseases can be ones that are known about
today or ones that might arise in the future. During a research project where a causal mutation is
being sought it is often useful to analyse the DNA from affected dogs and from their parents and
grandparents. For late onset conditions parents and grandparents may no longer be alive by the
time an affected dog is identified, but if the DNA from those dogs had been stored then it will be
available to use long after the dogs have passed away. The AHT has developed at least one DNA
test that was made possible by the analysis of DNA from dogs that had been stored for almost 10
Stored DNA can also be used for general breeds studies, such as estimating the genetic diversity of
the breed or the frequency of disease mutations in the general population.
How can the DNA be collected?
Ideally the DNA would be collected as a blood sample (~5mls) preserved in EDTA. However, in the
UK, the Home Office has strict regulations restricting the drawing of blood for non-veterinary
procedures, so owners should discuss this with their vet before requesting a blood sample solely for
the purposes of DNA archiving. If a dog is having blood drawn for a veterinary procedure then a vet
is permitted to draw a little bit extra for research purposes (which is how DNA archiving is classified)
or to use any residual blood sample that is left over from the veterinary procedure.
Alternatively the DNA can be collected using buccal (cheek) swabs. Providing the instructions are closely adhered to it is usual to collect enough high-quality DNA for most research purposes.
Swab kits are available from:
What information needs to accompany each DNA sample?
The more information that accompanies each DNA sample the more useful it is likely to be. A DNA
sample from a dog for which there is little information is unlikely to be of much use. It is usual to
provide details such as the dog’s name, breed, KC registration number, D.O.B., coat colour. You
will also be asked for a copy of the dog’s 5-generation pedigree and for any information about the
health of the dog. Keeping the archive updated with any significant health changes is VERY
IMPORTANT. For example, if we want to use a particular dog’s DNA sample to study a specific
inherited condition we need to know the dogs’ clinical status with regard to that disease – in other
words, we need to know if the dog is affected or unaffected or unknown. If a dog whose DNA is
stored unfortunately develops any serious health condition it is very important that the owner
informs the AHT so the dog’s record is updated. Likewise, if the dog enjoys a healthy happy life and
lives to be a ripe old age that is important information too! You do not need to submit a new DNA
sample when you update the archive.
Both dog and owner information is kept in the strictest confidence, although the AHT might,
periodically, distribute a list of the names of dogs whose DNA is stored to the breeds
Health Co-ordinator, for the purposes of sample monitoring. Only the names of dogs will be
distributed and no other information will be included.
To update health records email [email protected]