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Stud Books Dating Back to the 1800’s Helping Researchers of Today

An uncataloged collection in New York becomes a critical resource for genetic researchers

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Courtesy of UMaine

Within the pages of the 2018 issue of the Raymond H. Fogler Library Magazine lays an article about a collection of uncatalogued Stud Books in the AKC Library. The collection contains stud books from around the world, with many dating back to 1860.

Dr. Laurie Connell, a researcher and faculty member at the School of Marine Sciences University of Maine, stumbled across the stud books on a visit to the AKC Library.

“I was [at the AKC library] for a few days and just happened to find them on the shelves,”

DR. CONNELL

“When the library was beginning to move to a new location, they were considering [getting rid of] the volumes, so they contacted me to see if I wanted them.” said Dr. Connell. The volumes were transferred to Fogler Library on AKC’s request that they remain publicly accessible.

What can the Stud Books be used for?

Dr. Connell is currently researching the Český Fousek, a wire-haired hunting breed of medium size from the Czech Republic, seasonal alopecia is a common genetic condition the breed. Hair loss for this sporting breed, known to work in harsh conditions, can be very dangerous. Dr. Connell is specifically researching this condition.

Pedigree lines help genetic researchers better understand the genetic diversity of specific dog breeds, such as the Cesky Fousek. Researchers use that information to inform decisions about present-day breeds.
Pictured: Laurie Connell’s Cesky Fousek, named Allagash

“A deep part of the research reason is that they have a great deal of information collected about most of the [Český Fousek] in the US and their homeland, the Czech Republic, back to the 1970s and beyond,” says Dr. Connell. “The breed has a very complex history that makes tracking pedigrees very difficult, but also interesting.”  

“You really cannot eradicate genetic diseases because they are mostly recessive,” says Dr. Connell. “So the best way to manage the health of a population is through maintaining genetic diversity. Pedigrees can help with that management.”

The pedigree volumes contain many countries, breeds and languages dating to the mid 1800s. The books vary in style and presentation, and it’s common for breed names to change from one country to another.

What does the future hold?

Pedigree research is much deeper than genetic testing. Historical pedigree access allows researchers to make informed decisions about when to do genetic testing. Before the collection was cataloged, a researcher would have had no way of knowing which breeds, years or countries might be represented in the collection. 

“The Irish Wolfhound group is doing a number of studies and have asked me for help in researching. I know that some [researchers] now hope they can make time to come to Maine to work with the collection.”

The collection has since been cataloged for the first time, making it more readily available to researchers nationwide. The Stud Books can now be found displayed prominently on the second floor of Fogler Library.

Dr. Connell continues her research into the genetic mysteries of the Český Fousek.

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