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Concept: Labrador 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


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


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


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


A continuing debate in studies of social development in both humans and other animals is the extent to which early life experiences affect adult behavior. Also unclear are the relative contributions of cognitive skills (“intelligence”) and temperament for successful outcomes. Guide dogs are particularly suited to research on these questions. To succeed as a guide dog, individuals must accomplish complex navigation and decision making without succumbing to distractions and unforeseen obstacles. Faced with these rigorous demands, only ∼70% of dogs that enter training ultimately achieve success. What predicts success as a guide dog? To address these questions, we followed 98 puppies from birth to adulthood. We found that high levels of overall maternal behavior were linked with a higher likelihood of program failure. Furthermore, mothers whose nursing style required greater effort by puppies were more likely to produce successful offspring, whereas mothers whose nursing style required less effort were more likely to produce offspring that failed. In young adults, an inability to solve a multistep task quickly, compounded with high levels of perseveration during the task, was associated with failure. Young adults that were released from the program also appeared more anxious, as indicated by a short latency to vocalize when faced with a novel object task. Our results suggest that both maternal nursing behavior and individual traits of cognition and temperament are associated with guide dog success.

Concepts: Psychology, Decision making, Cognition, Failure, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Success, Adult


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


Lymphoma is the most common hematological malignancy in developed countries. Outcome is strongly determined by molecular subtype, reflecting a need for new and improved treatment options. Dogs spontaneously develop lymphoma, and the predisposition of certain breeds indicates genetic risk factors. Using the dog breed structure, we selected three lymphoma predisposed breeds developing primarily T-cell (boxer), primarily B-cell (cocker spaniel), and with equal distribution of B and T-cell lymphoma (golden retriever), respectively. We investigated the somatic mutations in B- and T-cell lymphomas from these breeds by exome sequencing of tumor and normal pairs. Strong similarities were evident between B-cell lymphomas from golden retrievers and cocker spaniels, with recurrent mutations in TRAF3-MAP3K14 (28% of all cases), FBXW7 (25%), and POT1 (17%). The FBXW7 mutations recurrently occur in a specific codon; the corresponding codon is recurrently mutated in human cancer. In contrast, T-cell lymphomas from the predisposed breeds, boxers and golden retrievers, show little overlap in their mutation pattern, sharing only one of their 15 most recurrently mutated genes. Boxers, which develop aggressive T-cell lymphomas, are typically mutated in the PTEN-mTOR pathway. T-cell lymphomas in golden retrievers are often less aggressive and their tumors typically showed mutations in genes involved in cellular metabolism. We identify genes with known involvement in human lymphoma and leukemia, genes implicated in other human cancers, as well as novel genes that could allow new therapeutic options.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Mutation, Evolution, DNA repair, Lymphoma, Labrador Retriever, Dog breed


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate relationships between heart rate and clinical variables in healthy dogs and dogs examined at a referral hospital. METHODS: Clinical data were extracted from the electronic patient records of a first opinion group (5000 healthy dogs) and a referral hospital (5849 dogs). Univariable and multi-variable general linear models were used to assess associations between heart rate and clinical characteristics. Separate multi-variable models were constructed for first opinion and referral populations. RESULTS: In healthy dogs, heart rate was negatively associated with bodyweight (P<0·001) but was higher in Chihuahuas. The mean difference in heart rate between a 5 and 55 kg dog was 10·5 beats per minute. In dogs presenting to a referral hospital, heart rate was negatively associated with bodyweight (P<0·001) and the following breeds; border collie, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, springer spaniel and West Highland white terrier and positively associated with age, admitting service (emergency and critical care, emergency first opinion and cardiology) and the following breeds; Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Staffordshire bull terrier and Yorkshire terrier. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Bodyweight, age, breed and disease status all influence heart rate in dogs, although these factors account for a relatively small proportion of the overall variability in heart rate.

Concepts: Labrador Retriever, Dog breed, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Spaniel, Toy Group, Dog breeds, The Intelligence of Dogs, Progressive retinal atrophy