Watch & Listen

Dr. Jessica Hekman

Canine Genetics

To breed or not to breed. To spay or neuter or not to spay or neuter. These are questions that Dr. Jessica Hekman, DVM, Ph.D., a veterinary genetics researcher at Karlsson Lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard contemplates, studies, and discusses on a regular. Dr. Hekman studies behavioral genetics in pet and working dogs using a citizen science approach. She teaches at the Virginia Tech online MS program in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare. She is also the founder of the Functional Dog Collaborative, which supports the breeding of healthy, behaviorally resilient dogs.

In this episode, Dr. Hekman discusses why genetic diversity matters, why outcrossing is supported, what inbreeding coefficients can tell us, and how she is using genetic technology to help better determine the likelihood that individual dogs will make great service dogs.

Dr. Hekman is absolutely brilliant and does a wonderful job of opening one’s mind up to think outside of the norm to help find answers from a genetic perspective.

I highly encourage you to check out Dr. Hekman’s work below:

The Darwin’s Ark citizen science project:

The Functional Dog Collaborative:
The Functional Breeding Podcast:
The Functional Breeding Facebook Group:

Behavior, health, and wellness for pet parents –