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  • Author or Editor: E. W. Brascamp x
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To determine relative impact of genetic, common-litter, and within-litter factors on puppy mortality.


2,622 Boxer puppies of 413 litters born during a 14-month period.


For each puppy, pedigree was determined, and litter in which it was born was registered. Overall mortality and mortality per specific cause of death were analyzed by use of a model that included an additive genetic effect, common-litter effect, within-litter effect, and regression of mortality on inbreeding coefficient. Relative importance of the effects was determined from estimates of the variance in mortality explained by each factor.


22% of the puppies died before reaching 7 weeks old. Stillbirth was the most frequent cause of death, followed by infection. Most observed differences were attributable to within-litter factors, which explained 67% of the variance in death attributable to infection and ≤ 96% of the variance in death attributable to asphyxia. Common-litter factors were more important than additive genetic factors. Variance attributed to common-litter factors ranged from 2% for cheiloschisis, palatoschisis, or cheilopalatoschisis to 30% for death attributable to infection, and variance attributed to additive genetic factors ranged from 0% for asphyxia to 14% for euthanatized because of white color. Inbreeding coefficient had a significant effect on death attributable to infection, which increased 0.26% for each percentage increase of inbreeding.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Additive genetic factors have less impact on preweaning mortality than common-litter factors, which in turn have less impact than within-litter factors. Mortality attributable to infection increases significantly with increases in inbreeding. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:1106-1110)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research