Ex-police officer on the case with dog DNA business

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Dog DNA
Sarah Morris of Blackdog DNA, based in Sway

DOG owners can now find out why their pup is proving tricky to train – with a DNA test.

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Sway dog behaviourist Sarah Morris is behind Blackdog DNA, which provides tests for mixed-breed dogs, giving owners an insight into their pets’ genetic makeup.

A former Met Police officer, Sarah came up with the idea while studying for her dog behaviour qualifications.

“During a classroom session the question was posed about how you would start to address the behaviour problems of a dog if you didn’t know which breed it was,” she said.

“As a retired police officer in London I was familiar with the concept of DNA tests and genetic testing of evidence at crime scenes, and I wondered if it was at all possible to do a DNA test on a dog to find out its ancestry.”

Sarah researched the procedures and “the very small beginnings of the veterinary genetic testing world became apparent to me”.

“When I first looked into it, this brand new science was in its infancy, but nowadays I have the most amazing genetic database of more than 300 different dog breeds around the world whose genetic signature has been sequenced,” she said.

Owners carry out a cheek swab test on their pet and, based on the results, Sarah provides a health and personality summary, along with a training and behaviour profile.

“For example, if your dog had a trace of beagle in its ancestry this might explain why you find recall so hard.

“I would give training tips and behavioural advice which is appropriate for the breed ancestry of a scenthound.”

Sarah takes her service to local country shows and fetes but with the pandemic preventing such events, she has launched a website.

“It has been very difficult this year as all my outdoor country shows have been cancelled,” she said.

“Normally I go out to at least one or two shows every single weekend from Easter right through to October but that has hit me hard this year. People seem to want to buy things on the internet nowadays, so it is only sensible that I should move with the times and build a new website.”

For more information visit www.blackdogdna.com.

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