Crime scene samples originating from domestic dogs such as hair, blood, or saliva can be probative as possible transfer evidence in human crime and in dog attack cases. In the majority of such cases canine DNA identification using short tandem repeat (STR) analysis is the method of choice, which demands, among others, a systematic survey of allele frequency data in the relevant dog populations. A set of 13 highly polymorphic canine STR markers was used to analyze samples of 1,184 dogs (including 967 purebred dogs) from the so-called DACH countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). This CaDNAP 13-STR panel has previously been validated for canine identification in a forensic context. Here, we present robust estimates of allele frequencies, which are essential to assess the weight of the evidence by estimating the probability of a matching DNA profile within the dog population under question, e.g. in the form of a random match probability (RMP). The geographical provenance of the tested dogs showed a negligible influence on the observed genotype variation. Therefore, we combined the STR data from all three countries into a single dog population sample (DPS). In contrast, pronounced genetic differentiation between dog breeds was found by principal component analysis and sub-structure analysis with the STRUCTURE software. These findings entailed the need to account for the effects of DPS breed composition on allele frequency estimates. A possible strategy, which was favored here, relies on collecting a DPS that is guided by the breed composition of the relevant dog population. In total, dogs from 166 different breeds were included in our DPS, 64 of them including at least 5 individuals (n = 771 dogs). Sampling reflected the abundance of breeds in the DACH countries with the following being the most common ones: German Shepherds (population frequency: 14.3%), Dachshunds (5.9%), Labrador Retrievers (3.9%), and Golden Retrievers (3.2%). The pedigree listing of the purebred dogs in our DPS ranked German Shepherds (DPS frequency 8.5%) first, followed by Labrador Retrievers (3.9%), Golden Retrievers (3%), and Dachshunds (2.5%). RMP values based on overall allele frequencies and accounting for substructure using FST between breeds ranged between 10-13 and 10-14 and represent a conservative approach of RMP assessment.
Forensic Sci Int Genet 2019 42:90-98