Shikoku Genetic Diversity

I'm posting this here in case anyone misses my posts on Facebook and Instagram! It's been a while since I've posted, but I have Rumo (Enzou go Areyarisu) and I'm working closely with his breeder (Corina) and helping with the North American Shikoku Club to achieve some goals that will benefit our wonderful breed.

Some of you may have seen mentions of the Shikoku Genetic Diversity DNA testing through UC Davis with Better Bred. I’ve put together information about the program, how it benefits our breed, as well as a “Thank You” package with the help of another of our shikoku owners for anyone that purchases the test for their own dog(s). ANY purebred shikoku can be included. You do not have to have an intact/breeding/showing dog. If you love shikoku and you have wondered how you can contribute to the future wellbeing of the breed, read on!

There is a Facebook group for this program for additional information:

Cost is $50 per test ($80 after the first 100 dogs are in) and can be ordered here:
Click here to order
You will get a packet with swabs to take saliva samples that you will then return to UC Davis. For shikoku owners outside of the USA, we may be able to arrange for someone to collect swabs from people in one region to combine shipping.

What you will get:

Once we reach 100 dogs, you will get a certificate (see photo for example) that will tell you your dog’s:

-Internal Relatedness (IR) – lower IR values indicate more genetic diversity – compared to the population of shikoku sampled. This will tell you how outbred or inbred your dog is.
-Diversity Panel – you can see if your dog has common or uncommon genes. On BetterBred you will be able to see how often different genes show up in the population.
-Dog Leukocyte Antigen (DLA) Haplotypes – Typically the more diverse the haplotypes, the healthier the dog. UC Davis tests the most areas of the DLA of any test available. DLA has been found to be associated with diseases in some cases.

-Handcrafted Shikoku Totem
-Shikoku Decal
-Custom leather keychain
-Custom metal pet ID tag (many more tag designs to choose from!)

This package will be available to anyone who purchases the test and swabs their dog(s). Thank You Packages will only be sent out until we reach 100 dogs!

To claim your "Thank You" Package, please email me at with proof that you have ordered so I can add you to the list. Your package will be sent out after you email me with proof that the sample was received by UC Davis.

Anyone who has already ordered or swabbed their shikoku, could you please either comment or message me with your dog’s name and pedigree so I can keep track? Right now I am avoiding full siblings, parents, or offspring of dogs that are either already swabbed or owners have already committed to swabbing their dogs.

We (myself and a few members of the North American Shikoku Club) are going to be raising funds to purchase tests for owners who cannot afford the test. We understand that for people who only have shikoku as a pet, this test may not seem as critical or useful. Donated tests will go to less related dogs first. If you are willing to swab your shikoku and would like to put your name in for a donated test, please email me at with your dog’s pedigree so I can add it to our list. Thank You Packages will not be issued to people swabbing their dog with a donated test.

If you would like to donate additional funds for tests, please send an email to me or the club email ( For prospective shikoku owners - the information breeders get from this test will likely impact future litters, and any amount will help! We are putting together tiered incentives for people that donate as well, which will likely include custom figurines, Shikoku merchandise, and more.

1. Get as many “unrelated” dogs sampled as possible first, and then...
2. Get as many shikoku into the database as possible, especially intact/breeding dogs
3. Get any dogs affected by epilepsy/ neurological issues sampled

The database is only as useful as the population sampled, which is why priority number one is to try to get as many unrelated dogs sampled as possible. From there, it is helpful to get as many dogs into the database as possible because the more individual DNA we have, the more accurate the database will be as a representation of the genetic diversity of our breed.

Why would we include dogs that are not being used for breeding? It is useful to see what genetics our breeding populations are producing. It will give us a more complete picture of the shikoku breed population.

Epilepsy/ neurological issues: Although this test will not pick up genetic issues, we may be able to see a correlation between some of the data and affected dogs.

What the BetterBred program will provide:
It will show an individual dog’s internal relatedness (measurement of inbreeding). Even within a litter, inbreeding can vary. Litters with lower IR ranges have less likelihood to express recessive component diseases.

Simply knowing if a dog is more outbred or inbred is not enough information. An inbred dog can still have unique genetics compared to the rest of the breed and is therefore potentially very valuable to a breeding program. Two dogs can have the same IR, but can have completely different genetics.

This means we can pinpoint outliers - dogs that may have high IR but uncommon genes due to lines losing favor or popular sires - and could be beneficial to the population by producing offspring with both low IR and uncommon genes.

Avoid losing less common genes by determining which ones are seen infrequently in the breed and selecting dogs with those genes for breeding (assuming all else is breeding quality or can be compensated for). This test looks at genes that are not normally expressed visually, so cannot be selectively bred for without testing for them.

As with everything else (health tests, structure, working ability, drive, temperament) you can’t just look at one number and make choices. But this test will give us more data to work with to make better decisions when planning litters.

When is this helpful?
-When a breeder is making selections between two very similar dogs to breed, they can choose a dog that is genetically more outbred or has inherited more unique genes.

-If a breeder is trying to choose which puppy to hold back for their breeding program from a litter, they can make a more informed choice based on their genetic results.

-Importing new dogs can get expensive, and it can be difficult to find dogs that are almost completely unrelated from the other dogs a breeder has available already. This test could help breeders import more diverse dogs without relying on pedigrees alone.

Information about this program comes from the BetterBred website. You can sign up for a free membership and get more detailed information about what this program will provide with the free course they offer. I finished all the videos in less than an hour, even with stopping to take notes.

Free Membership signup:
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