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Concept: Dog breed


Sequencing of candidate genes for obesity in Labrador retriever dogs identified a 14 bp deletion in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) with an allele frequency of 12%. The deletion disrupts the β-MSH and β-endorphin coding sequences and is associated with body weight (per allele effect of 0.33 SD), adiposity, and greater food motivation. Among other dog breeds, the deletion was only found in the closely related flat-coat retriever (FCR), where it is similarly associated with body weight and food motivation. The mutation is significantly more common in Labrador retrievers selected to become assistance dogs than pets. In conclusion, the deletion in POMC is a significant modifier of weight and appetite in Labrador retrievers and FCRs and may influence other behavioral traits.

Concepts: Genetics, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labradoodle, Guide dog


WE INVESTIGATED THE PRESENCE OF A KEY FEATURE OF HUMAN WORD COMPREHENSION IN A FIVE YEAR OLD BORDER COLLIE: the generalization of a word referring to an object to other objects of the same shape, also known as shape bias. Our first experiment confirmed a solid history of word learning in the dog, thus making it possible for certain object features to have become central in his word comprehension. Using an experimental paradigm originally employed to establish shape bias in children and human adults we taught the dog arbitrary object names (e.g. dax) for novel objects. Two experiments showed that when briefly familiarized with word-object mappings the dog did not generalize object names to object shape but to object size. A fourth experiment showed that when familiarized with a word-object mapping for a longer period of time the dog tended to generalize the word to objects with the same texture. These results show that the dog tested did not display human-like word comprehension, but word generalization and word reference development of a qualitatively different nature compared to humans. We conclude that a shape bias for word generalization in humans is due to the distinct evolutionary history of the human sensory system for object identification and that more research is necessary to confirm qualitative differences in word generalization between humans and dogs.

Concepts: Science, Experiment, Dog, Apex predator, Dog breed, Canidae, Gray Wolf, Canis


We investigate the relationship between characteristics of dog breeds and their popularity between years 1926 and 2005. We consider breed health, longevity, and behavioral qualities such as aggressiveness, trainability, and fearfulness. We show that a breed’s overall popularity, fluctuations in popularity, and rates of increase and decrease around popularity peaks show typically no correlation with these breed characteristics. One exception is the finding that more popular breeds tend to suffer from more inherited disorders. Our results support the hypothesis that dog breed popularity has been primarily determined by fashion rather than function.

Concepts: Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Purebred


Canine leishmaniosis (CanL) caused by Leishmania infantum is an endemic zoonosis in southern European countries. Infected dogs can present rare or atypical forms of the disease and diagnosis can be challenging. The present report describes a case of tongue nodules in a 3-year-old neutered female Labrador Retriever dog with leishmaniosis.

Concepts: Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed


Domestic dogs can suffer from hearing losses that can have profound impacts on working ability and quality of life. We have identified a type of adult-onset hearing loss in Border Collies that appears to have a genetic cause, with an earlier age of onset (3-5 years) than typically expected for aging dogs (8-10 years). Studying this complex trait within pure breeds of dog may greatly increase our ability to identify genomic regions associated with risk of hearing impairment in dogs and in humans. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to detect loci underlying adult-onset deafness in a sample of 20 affected and 28 control Border Collies. We identified a region on canine chromosome 6 that demonstrates extended support for association surrounding SNP Chr6.25819273 (p-value = 1.09×10(-13)). To further localize disease-associated variants, targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) of one affected and two unaffected dogs was performed. Through additional validation based on targeted genotyping of additional cases (n = 23 total) and controls (n = 101 total) and an independent replication cohort of 16 cases and 265 controls, we identified variants in USP31 that were strongly associated with adult-onset deafness in Border Collies, suggesting the involvement of the NF-κB pathway. We found additional support for involvement of RBBP6, which is critical for cochlear development. These findings highlight the utility of GWAS-guided fine-mapping of genetic loci using targeted NGS to study hereditary disorders of the domestic dog that may be analogous to human disorders.

Concepts: Genetics, Cochlea, Hearing impairment, Genome-wide association study, Audiogram, Dog, Dog breed, Dog health


OBJECTIVE: To compare a towel under, a warm water pad under or a forced warm air blanket over dogs as techniques to reduce heat loss during a standardized anesthetic. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, crossover study. ANIMALS: Eight, healthy, mixed breed dogs weighing 16.3-19.6 kg. METHODS: Dogs were anesthetized four times for 90 minutes. Dogs were placed on a steel table (treatment TA), with a cotton towel (treatment TO) or a circulating warm water pad (treatment WP) between the dog and the table, or with, a towel under the dog and covered with a forced warm air blanket (treatment WAB). Rectal temperature (RT) was recorded at 5 minute intervals. Changes in temperature (ΔRT) were calculated as the RT at a given point subtracted from the RT before anesthesia (baseline) and compared over time. RESULTS: After 90 minutes of anesthesia, the ΔRT was 3.42 °C ± 0.29 for TA, 2.78 °C ± 0.43 for TO, 1.98 °C ± 0.29 for WP, and 0.91 °C ± 0.27 for WAB. Significant differences in ΔRT occurred between TA and WAB at 20 minutes (0.94 °C ± 0.42, p = 0.0206), between TO and WAB at 30 minutes (1.16 °C ± 0.62, p = 0.0063), between WP and WAB at 50 minutes (0.96 °C ± 0.98, p = 0.0249), between TA and WP at 35 minutes (1.19 °C ± 0.54, p = 0.0091), between TO and WP at 70 minutes (1.12 °C ± 0.56, p = 0.0248), and between TA and TO at 75 minutes (0.96 °C ± 0.62, p = 0.0313). These differences in ΔRT between each treatment persisted from the times indicated until the end of the anesthesia. CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: During anesthesia, forced warm air blankets were superior to other methods tested for limiting heat loss. An efficient heat loss technique should be used for anesthesia longer than 20 minutes duration in medium sized dogs.

Concepts: Crossover study, Thermodynamics, Heat, Anesthesia, Selective breeding, Dog breed, Anesthetic, Mixed-breed dog


Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others. However, exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon information supplied by the relinquishing owner, or staff determination based on the dog’s phenotype. However, discrepancies have been found between breed identification as typically assessed by welfare agencies and the outcome of DNA analysis. In Study 1, the perceived behavioral and adoptability characteristics of a pit-bull-type dog were compared with those of a Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. How the addition of a human handler influenced those perceptions was also assessed. In Study 2, lengths of stay and perceived attractiveness of dogs that were labeled as pit bull breeds were compared to dogs that were phenotypically similar but were labeled as another breed at an animal shelter. The latter dogs were called “lookalikes.” In Study 3, we compared perceived attractiveness in video recordings of pit-bull-type dogs and lookalikes with and without breed labels. Lastly, data from an animal shelter that ceased applying breed labeling on kennels were analyzed, and lengths of stay and outcomes for all dog breeds, including pit bulls, before and after the change in labeling practice were compared. In total, these findings suggest that breed labeling influences potential adopters' perceptions and decision-making. Given the inherent complexity of breed assignment based on morphology coupled with negative breed perceptions, removing breed labels is a relatively low-cost strategy that will likely improve outcomes for dogs in animal shelters.

Concepts: Selective breeding, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Kennel club, American Pit Bull Terrier, Pit Bull, Collie


In contrast to European countries, the overwhelming majority of dogs in the U.S. are neutered (including spaying), usually done before one year of age. Given the importance of gonadal hormones in growth and development, this cultural contrast invites an analysis of the multiple organ systems that may be adversely affected by neutering. Using a single breed-specific dataset, the objective was to examine the variables of gender and age at the time of neutering versus leaving dogs gonadally intact, on all diseases occurring with sufficient frequency for statistical analyses. Given its popularity and vulnerability to various cancers and joint disorders, the Golden Retriever was chosen for this study. Veterinary hospital records of 759 client-owned, intact and neutered female and male dogs, 1-8 years old, were examined for diagnoses of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT). Patients were classified as intact, or neutered early (<12 mo) or late (≥12 mo). Statistical analyses involved survival analyses and incidence rate comparisons. Outcomes at the 5 percent level of significance are reported. Of early-neutered males, 10 percent were diagnosed with HD, double the occurrence in intact males. There were no cases of CCL diagnosed in intact males or females, but in early-neutered males and females the occurrences were 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Almost 10 percent of early-neutered males were diagnosed with LSA, 3 times more than intact males. The percentage of HSA cases in late-neutered females (about 8 percent) was 4 times more than intact and early-neutered females. There were no cases of MCT in intact females, but the occurrence was nearly 6 percent in late-neutered females. The results have health implications for Golden Retriever companion and service dogs, and for oncologists using dogs as models of cancers that occur in humans.

Concepts: Cancer, Anterior cruciate ligament, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Neutering, Retriever, Golden Retriever


The morphology of dogs can provide information about their predisposition to some disorders. For example, larger breeds are predisposed to hip dysplasia and many neoplastic diseases. Therefore, longitudinal trends in popularity of dog morphology can reveal potential disease pervasiveness in the future. There have been reports on the popularity of particular breeds and behavioural traits but trends in the morphological traits of preferred breeds have not been studied.

Concepts: Cancer, Dog, Dog breed


Gliomas are the most common form of malignant primary brain tumors in humans and second most common in dogs, occurring with similar frequencies in both species. Dogs are valuable spontaneous models of human complex diseases including cancers and may provide insight into disease susceptibility and oncogenesis. Several brachycephalic breeds such as Boxer, Bulldog and Boston Terrier have an elevated risk of developing glioma, but others, including Pug and Pekingese, are not at higher risk. To identify glioma-associated genetic susceptibility factors, an across-breed genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed on 39 dog glioma cases and 141 controls from 25 dog breeds, identifying a genome-wide significant locus on canine chromosome (CFA) 26 (p = 2.8 x 10-8). Targeted re-sequencing of the 3.4 Mb candidate region was performed, followed by genotyping of the 56 SNVs that best fit the association pattern between the re-sequenced cases and controls. We identified three candidate genes that were highly associated with glioma susceptibility: CAMKK2, P2RX7 and DENR. CAMKK2 showed reduced expression in both canine and human brain tumors, and a non-synonymous variant in P2RX7, previously demonstrated to have a 50% decrease in receptor function, was also associated with disease. Thus, one or more of these genes appear to affect glioma susceptibility.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Cancer, Chromosome, Brain tumor, Genome-wide association study, Identification, Dog breed