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The selection of a future breeding dog is a complicated task, in which disease characteristics and different traits have to be combined and weighed against one another. Truncation selection, that is the exclusion of affected animals, may be very inefficient when selecting on a large number of traits, and may result in a reduction of the genetic diversity in a population or breed. Selection could be facilitated by the use of a selection index that combines multiple traits or breeding values into one score. This however requires a consideration of their relative value according to their economic weight, which is difficult to express in monetary units for health traits. The use of a choice experiment to derive non-market values might be a solution to this problem. This is a pilot study to assess the potential use of choice experiments to ascertain the public preference and relative importance attached to health- and conformation traits in the selection of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. The focus was on two prevalent disorders, mitral valve disease and syringomyelia, and on several important conformation traits such as muzzle length and eye shape. Based on available prior information, a Bayesian D-optimal design approach was used to develop a choice experiment and the resulting choice sets.
Wijnrocx, K., François, L., Goos, P., Buys, N., & Janssens, S. (2018). Assessing the relative importance of health and conformation traits in the cavalier king Charles spaniel. Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40575-017-0056-2