Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
Champion dog leads the way
Caspians Intrepid and his owner Jackie Lorimer
The Crufts Supreme Champion has become one of the first dogs in the UK to take a new type of genetic test.
Dog lovers will be pleased to hear JJ, as his owner Jackie Lorimer affectionately calls him, has been given the all clear. The animal can now be used for breeding, safe in the knowledge that his pups will be free from this particular problem.
The Clad test was developed at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket.
"So when people buy a pet puppy, for example, people will have a much better idea of what to ask - whether the parents have been tested for a particular disease."
There are something like 150 recognised dog breeds. Scientists believe the animals offer a unique opportunity to study genetics. Selective breeding has created breeds with astonishing breed-specific differences. This makes it much easier to spot the markers for disease.
"Because dogs are so highly inbred, their genetic material doesn't vary as much as the general human population, " says researcher Matthew Binns. "Given that we're looking for the specific differences that underlie these diseases, it is much easier to find those differences if you have a uniform background against which you can see them - inbreeding gives us that.
"This equates quite closely to isolated human populations that have been fantastically valuable for human genetic studies investigating heart disease and high blood pressure."
Already, a comparison has been made of breast cancer genes in dogs and humans.