Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Golden Retriever


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


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


Our recent study on the effects of neutering (including spaying) in Golden Retrievers in markedly increasing the incidence of two joint disorders and three cancers prompted this study and a comparison of Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Veterinary hospital records were examined over a 13-year period for the effects of neutering during specified age ranges: before 6 mo., and during 6-11 mo., year 1 or years 2 through 8. The joint disorders examined were hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and elbow dysplasia. The cancers examined were lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and mammary cancer. The results for the Golden Retriever were similar to the previous study, but there were notable differences between breeds. In Labrador Retrievers, where about 5 percent of gonadally intact males and females had one or more joint disorders, neutering at <6 mo. doubled the incidence of one or more joint disorders in both sexes. In male and female Golden Retrievers, with the same 5 percent rate of joint disorders in intact dogs, neutering at <6 mo. increased the incidence of a joint disorder to 4-5 times that of intact dogs. The incidence of one or more cancers in female Labrador Retrievers increased slightly above the 3 percent level of intact females with neutering. In contrast, in female Golden Retrievers, with the same 3 percent rate of one or more cancers in intact females, neutering at all periods through 8 years of age increased the rate of at least one of the cancers by 3-4 times. In male Golden and Labrador Retrievers neutering had relatively minor effects in increasing the occurrence of cancers. Comparisons of cancers in the two breeds suggest that the occurrence of cancers in female Golden Retrievers is a reflection of particular vulnerability to gonadal hormone removal.

Concepts: Male, Female, Sex, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Retriever, Golden Retriever


The purpose of the study was to establish normal electroretinogram (ERG) parameters in 56 normal eyes of four common dog breeds in Thailand: Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Thai Ridgeback and Thai Bangkaew. Standard ERGs were bilaterally recorded using a handheld multi-species ERG unit with the ERG-jet lens electrode in 28 dogs under preanesthesia with diazepam, induction with propofol and anesthesia maintenance with isoflurane. There were significant differences in the means of ERG amplitudes and implicit times among the four dog breeds (P<0.05) except for the b-wave implicit time of the photopic 30 Hz flicker response with 3 cd.s/m(2) (P=0.610). Among all breeds, Thai Bangkaew had the longest implicit time (p<0.001) of scotopic low intensity responses, b-wave of scotopic standard intensity responses (3 cd.s/m(2)), a-wave of the higher intensity response (10 cd.s/m(2)) and a-wave of the photopic single flash response (3 cd.s/m(2)). For b/a ratio, only the ratio of the Cone response had a significant difference among dog breeds. This study reported normal ERG parameters in four dog breeds and supported that the breed-specific limits of normality to ERG response are necessary in each clinic and laboratory.

Concepts: Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Gun dog, Dog breeds, Progressive retinal atrophy, Golden Retriever, Labradoodle


Two young Labrador retriever dogs with bradycardia-induced syncope resulting from atrial myopathy underwent permanent transvenous pacemaker implantation. Both dogs developed heart failure 3-5 years after pacemaker implantation. Both were managed medically for approximately 7 years after pacemaker implantation and, ultimately, were humanely euthanized due to refractory heart failure signs and quality of life concerns. Long-term management of dogs with atrial myopathy and secondary atrial standstill with pacemaker implantation and medical therapy for heart failure is feasible and prognosis may be better than previously reported or speculated.

Concepts: Medicine, Cardiology, Therapy, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Retriever, Golden Retriever


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 Golden Retriever Lifetime Study (GRLS) is the first prospective longitudinal study attempted in veterinary medicine to identify the major dietary, genetic and environmental risk factors for cancer and other important diseases in dogs. The GRLS is an observational study that will follow a cohort of 3000 purebred Golden Retrievers throughout their lives via annual online questionnaires from the dog owner and annual physical examinations and collection of biological samples by the primary care veterinarian. The field of comparative medicine investigating naturally occurring disorders in pets is specifically relevant to the many diseases that have a genetic basis for disease in both animals and humans, including cancer, blindness, metabolic and behavioural disorders and some neurodegenerative disorders. The opportunity for the GRLS to provide high-quality data for translational comparative medical initiatives in several disease categories is great. In particular, the opportunity to develop a lifetime dataset of lifestyle and activity, environmental exposure and diet history combined with simultaneous annual biological sample sets and detailed health outcomes will provide disease incidence data for this cohort of geographically dispersed dogs and associations with a wide variety of potential risk factors. The GRLS will provide a lifetime historical context, repeated biological sample sets and outcomes necessary to interrogate complex associations between genes and environmental influences and cancer.

Concepts: Cohort study, Medicine, Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Labrador Retriever, Dog breed, Retriever, Golden Retriever


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), caused by mutations at the dystrophin gene, is the most common form of muscular dystrophy. There is no cure for DMD and current therapeutic approaches to restore dystrophin expression are only partially effective. The absence of dystrophin in muscle results in dysregulation of signaling pathways, which could be targets for disease therapy and drug discovery. Previously, we identified two exceptional Golden Retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD) dogs that are mildly affected, have functional muscle, and normal lifespan despite the complete absence of dystrophin. Now, our data on linkage, whole-genome sequencing, and transcriptome analyses of these dogs compared to severely affected GRMD and control animals reveals that increased expression of Jagged1 gene, a known regulator of the Notch signaling pathway, is a hallmark of the mild phenotype. Functional analyses demonstrate that Jagged1 overexpression ameliorates the dystrophic phenotype, suggesting that Jagged1 may represent a target for DMD therapy in a dystrophin-independent manner.

Concepts: Gene, Gene expression, Evolution, Electromyography, Muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Dystrophin, Golden Retriever


Situations that are emotional and arousing have an effect on cognitive performance. It is thought that beta adrenergic activation and the release of stress hormones enhance memory consolidation and lead to an increase in memorability of emotional events. This beneficial effect has been shown in humans, non-human primates and rodents. Techniques which could enhance memory for learning specific tasks would be highly valuable, especially in dogs, which are extensively trained to aid humans. A pseudo-randomized, counterbalanced, between subject study designs was utilised and 16 Labrador Retrievers ranging from 1 to 9years of age were trained in a 2-choice discrimination paradigm. After task acquisition, either a playful activity intervention (N=8) or a resting period (N=8) took place, lasting for 30min. A range of factors including age, sex, training experience and trials to criterion on each day was subjected to a multiple factor/covariate General Linear Model analysis. The results show that playful activity post-learning improved training performance evidenced by fewer trials needed to re-learn the task 24h after initial acquisition (playful activity group: mean number of trials 26, SD 6; resting group: mean number of trials 43, SD 19, effect size 1.2). Average heart rate, as a measure of arousal, during the intervention was significantly higher in the playful activity group (143beats/min, SD 16) versus the resting group (86beats/min, SD 19, P<0.001). Salivary cortisol did not significantly differ between groups during training, however a significant decrease (T: -4.1 P<0.01) was seen after the playful activity. To our knowledge this is the first evidence that posttraining activity may influence training performance in dogs.

Concepts: Human, Primate, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Canis, Retriever, Golden Retriever


A genetic predisposition for certain tumour types has been proven for some dog breeds. Some studies have suggested that this may also be true for the Golden retriever breed. The present study aimed to examine a possible existence of a tumour (type) predisposition in the Dutch population of Golden retrievers by evaluating annual estimated incidence rates compared to incidence rates from previous publications. A second aim was to evaluate whether incidences of various tumours differed as related to the diagnostic method chosen, being either cytology or histology.

Concepts: Labrador Retriever, Dog breed, Retriever, Progressive retinal atrophy, Golden Retriever