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Concept: Dog breed


Dogs may be beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk in their owners by providing social support and motivation for physical activity. We aimed to investigate the association of dog ownership with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death in a register-based prospective nation-wide cohort (n = 3,432,153) with up to 12 years of follow-up. Self-reported health and lifestyle habits were available for 34,202 participants in the Swedish Twin Register. Time-to-event analyses with time-updated covariates were used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). In single- and multiple-person households, dog ownership (13.1%) was associated with lower risk of death, HR 0.67 (95% CI, 0.65-0.69) and 0.89 (0.87-0.91), respectively; and CVD death, HR 0.64 (0.59-0.70), and 0.85 (0.81-0.90), respectively. In single-person households, dog ownership was inversely associated with cardiovascular outcomes (HR composite CVD 0.92, 95% CI, 0.89-0.94). Ownership of hunting breed dogs was associated with lowest risk of CVD. Further analysis in the Twin Register could not replicate the reduced risk of CVD or death but also gave no indication of confounding by disability, comorbidities or lifestyle factors. In conclusion, dog ownership appears to be associated with lower risk of CVD in single-person households and lower mortality in the general population.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Demography, Blood vessel, Cardiovascular disease, Actuarial science, Physical exercise, 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


There are nearly 400 modern domestic dog breeds with a unique histories and genetic profiles. To track the genetic signatures of breed development, we have assembled the most diverse dataset of dog breeds, reflecting their extensive phenotypic variation and heritage. Combining genetic distance, migration, and genome-wide haplotype sharing analyses, we uncover geographic patterns of development and independent origins of common traits. Our analyses reveal the hybrid history of breeds and elucidate the effects of immigration, revealing for the first time a suggestion of New World dog within some modern breeds. Finally, we used cladistics and haplotype sharing to show that some common traits have arisen more than once in the history of the dog. These analyses characterize the complexities of breed development, resolving longstanding questions regarding individual breed origination, the effect of migration on geographically distinct breeds, and, by inference, transfer of trait and disease alleles among dog breeds.

Concepts: Gene, Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Purebred, Origin, Landrace


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


Immunoglobulin A deficiency (IgAD) is the most common primary immune deficiency disorder in both humans and dogs, characterized by recurrent mucosal tract infections and a predisposition for allergic and other immune mediated diseases. In several dog breeds, low IgA levels have been observed at a high frequency and with a clinical resemblance to human IgAD. In this study, we used genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify genomic regions associated with low IgA levels in dogs as a comparative model for human IgAD. We used a novel percentile groups-approach to establish breed-specific cut-offs and to perform analyses in a close to continuous manner. GWAS performed in four breeds prone to low IgA levels (German shepherd, Golden retriever, Labrador retriever and Shar-Pei) identified 35 genomic loci suggestively associated (p <0.0005) to IgA levels. In German shepherd, three genomic regions (candidate genes include KIRREL3 and SERPINA9) were genome-wide significantly associated (p <0.0002) with IgA levels. A ~20kb long haplotype on CFA28, significantly associated (p = 0.0005) to IgA levels in Shar-Pei, was positioned within the first intron of the gene SLIT1. Both KIRREL3 and SLIT1 are highly expressed in the central nervous system and in bone marrow and are potentially important during B-cell development. SERPINA9 expression is restricted to B-cells and peaks at the time-point when B-cells proliferate into antibody-producing plasma cells. The suggestively associated regions were enriched for genes in Gene Ontology gene sets involving inflammation and early immune cell development.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Genetics, Gene expression, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Golden Retriever


The overall similarity of the skull shape of some dog breeds with that of juvenile wolves begs the question if and how ontogenetic changes such as paedomorphosis (evolutionary juvenilisation) played a role in domestication. Here we test for changes in patterns of development and growth during dog domestication. We present the first geometric morphometric study using ontogenetic series of dog and wolf crania, and samples of dogs with relatively ancestral morphology and from different time periods. We show that patterns of juvenile-to-adult morphological change are largely similar in wolves and domestic dogs, but differ in two ways. First, dog skulls show unique (neomorphic) features already shortly after birth, and these features persist throughout postnatal ontogeny. Second, at any given age, juvenile dogs exhibit skull shapes that resemble those of consistently younger wolves, even in dog breeds that do not exhibit a ‘juvenilized’ morphology as adults. These patterns exemplify the complex nature of evolutionary changes during dog domestication: the cranial morphology of adult dogs cannot simply be explained as either neomorphic or paedomorphic. The key to our understanding of dog domestication may lie in a closer comparative examination of developmental phases.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Skull, Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Canidae, Gray Wolf