615 – BernerGarde Leads the Way in Open Sharing of Health Information

BernerGarde Leads the Way in Open Sharing of Health Information

BernerGarde Leads the Way in Open Sharing of Health Information

Host Laura Reeves is joined by Lori Jodar, president of the BernerGarde Foundation, to discuss this legendary program.

BernerGarde has been collecting health and pedigree data on the Bernese Mountain Dog for nearly 30 years. The founder of this concept began in the 1960s gathering information on 3×5 cards. The non-profit foundation was created in the 1980s and now includes 215,000 dogs’ information.

“The mission of BernerGarde has always been genetic, genetic, genetic,” Jodar said. “And because of that, we’ve been able to stay on course. The Parent Club, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, and the BernerGarde Foundation have remained very good partners throughout the years. So that’s a good thing.

“The most expensive thing that we have done to date is to start a repository. We started a DNA and tissue repository.

“We knew we wanted to study this malignant histiocytosis. So in 2006, we partnered with Michigan State University, Dr. Vilma, we call her Dr. Vilma. And she’s a brilliant researcher, as well as being a professor at Michigan State University Veterinary School, and she has managed a repository for us. We have 4,000 unique dogs in the repository, and I don’t know how many tumors we have, but not that many, but like 1,000, we use for research.

“It’s very expensive, very, very expensive, but what has morphed out of that is there’s a group in France that has been studying histiocytic sarcoma for a long time, and they are finding some answers. So, we have shared DNA with them, tumor submissions with them. We’re about to send several hundred DNA samples to them for their continuing research.

“The database that we have is so vibrant and vital to the community. I don’t think I can overstate it. It’s become part of everybody’s life. And if they complain about anything, they… they being the community of breeders, they complain about anything, it’s that there’s never enough information.

“Through this database, there’s health records. We divide the health records into what we call anecdotal and diagnosed. So, to be diagnosed, you have to have veterinary support, a pathology report or veterinary report to actually have a diagnosed condition. And then we do all the health certs, you know, we get a quarterly thing from OFA on hips and elbows and whatever they’re doing.

“We also have, you know, about 50% of the dogs in the database now are not US, they’re from Europe and Australia and Canada. So, we needed to learn how to interpret all of those records like through the FCI in Europe. And oh it’s a lot. So, we have database operators all over the world now. We have about 30 of them and they’re kind of the in-between, between the people that want to submit information.

“We are so focused on accuracy that I think that has given us legitimacy, actually, that focus.

“If you got a bitch and you are looking for a stud, you can go to our database. We have a stud-finder and you can put in parameters. What the age is, do they need their hips, do they need their elbows, do they need DM, do they need whatever it is that you feel you need for your breeding. And then, we’ll just… spit out a list of stud dogs.

“You can also do trial pedigrees. We also do COIs, Coefficient of Inbreeding, for every dog. You can put five pictures of your dog in there.”


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