Health & Genetics

The Big Picture: Population Genetics

Population genetics is the quantitative study of the genetic composition of a 'population' or localized grouping of animals (including human animals).  The study and application of population genetics has enabled scientists and conservationists to preserve endangered species and manage captive populations within zoos and similar captive breeding programs.

Over the last 150 years since the closing of studbooks by various Kennel Clubs, individual breeds, including the Manchester Terrier, have become 'closed' population into which new genetic material may not be introduced.  What that means is that genetic diversity can only be lost as long as the studbooks remain closed. The loss of diversity within breeds has been hastened by 'line-breeding,' use of popular sires, and breeders selecting their foundation stock from the 'kennel du jour.'  The Canine Diversity Project which was founded by late geneticist and dog fancier, John Armstrong, PhD., provides a great primer on population genetics and its application to purebred dogs. We highly recommend that anyone new to purebred dogs and dog breeding read the entire site before selecting foundation stock and breeding litters.