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Journal: Canine genetics and epidemiology


Intervertebral disc herniation (IVDH) involves displacement of the intervertebral disc secondary to disc degeneration and is extremely common in dachshunds. Clinical signs include pain with or without paresis or paralysis. Mortality rate is high and some cases are left with permanent disability even after treatment. Aims of this study were twofold: Firstly, to investigate whether neutering, i.e. gonadectomy, is associated with increased risk of IVDH in dachshunds, and secondly to investigate whether age of neutering alters risk of IVDH in this breed.Information was obtained for 1964 dachshunds from the owner survey, “Dachslife 2015”. For dachshunds that were ≥ 3 years and < 10 years old at the time of the survey (1073 individuals) incidence of IVDH was compared between early-neutered (< 12 months), late-neutered (> 12 months) and entire animals of each gender.


Gonadectomy, or neutering, is a very common surgery for dogs having many positive effects on behavior, health, and longevity. There are also certain risks associated with neutering including the development of orthopedic conditions, cognitive decline, and a predisposition to some neoplasias. This study was designed specifically to identify if a correlation exists between neuter status and inherited conditions in a large aggregate cohort of dogs representing many different breeds.

Concepts: Psychology, Economics, Cognition, Cat, Dog, Castration, Neutering, Estrous cycle


The Pug is an ancient dog breed and was the fifth most commonly registered UK pedigree breed in 2014. However, the breed has been reported to be predisposed to several disorders including ocular, respiratory and dermatological problems. The VetCompass Programme collates de-identified clinical data from primary-care veterinary practices in the UK for epidemiological research. Using VetCompass clinical data, this study aimed to characterise the demography and common disorders of the general population of Pugs under veterinary care in England.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Statistics, Demography, United Kingdom, English language, Dog breed, Ancient dog breeds


The domestic dog is one of the most diverse mammalian species, exhibiting wide variations in morphology, behaviour and morbidity across breeds. Therefore, it is not unexpected that breeds should also exhibit variation in mortality and longevity. While shorter longevity per se may not necessarily be a welfare issue, a generally foreshortened lifespan in a breed that is accompanied by a high prevalence of a particular cause of death may reveal potentially serious welfare concerns and highlight scope to improve breed welfare. Survey data gathered directly from owners offer useful insights into canine longevity and mortality that can support the overall evidence base for welfare reforms within breeds.


Pure breeding of dogs has led to over 700 heritable disorders, of which almost 300 are Mendelian in nature. Seventy percent of the characterized mutations have an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, indicative of positive selection during bouts of inbreeding primarily for new desired conformational traits. Samoyed suffer from several common complex genetic disorders, but up to this time only two X-linked and one autosomal dominant disorder have been identified. Previous studies based on pedigrees and SNP arrays have concluded that Samoyed breeders have done a good job in maintaining genetic diversity and avoiding excessive inbreeding. This may explain why autosomal recessive disorders have not occurred to the extent observed in many other breeds. However, an enamel hypoplasia analogous to a form of autosomal recessive amelogenesis imperfecta (ARAI) in humans has been recently characterized in Samoyed, although the causative mutation appears to have existed for three or more decades. The rise of such a mutation indicates that bouts of inbreeding for desired conformational traits are still occurring despite an old and well-defined breed standard. Therefore, the present study has two objectives: 1) measure genetic diversity in the breed using DNA and short tandem repeats (STR), and 2) identify the exact mutation responsible for enamel hypoplasia in the breed, possible explanations for its recent spread, and the effect of eliminating the mutation on existing genetic diversity.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Genetic disorder, Mutation, Allele, Gregor Mendel, Phenylketonuria, Sex linkage


Making assumptions regarding temperament and intelligence based on the physical appearance of dogs can be a conscious or unconscious human act. Labrador retrievers with chocolate-coloured coats are anecdotally considered to be less trainable and more hyperactive and aggressive than their black or yellow peers. To test these assertions, we analysed the owner-reported behavioural traits of Labradors in relation to both their observable coat colour, and their TYRP1 and MC1R genotypes.


The West Highland White Terrier (WHWT) is a relatively common breed in the UK, although Kennel Club registrations have declined in recent years. The VetCompass™ Programme collates de-identified clinical data from primary-care veterinary practices in the UK for epidemiological research. Using VetCompass clinical data, this study aimed to characterise the demography, longevity and common disorders of WHWTs under primary veterinary care in the UK.


Individual dog breeds are often reported as predisposed to specific breed-related disorders but reliable epidemiological data on disease prevalence are sparse. The Miniature Schnauzer in the UK is a popular small breed dog that is often considered as relatively healthy and long-lived, but is this really true? This study aimed to use data from the VetCompass™ Programme at the Royal Veterinary College to characterise the demography, mortality and common disorders of the general population of Miniature Schnauzers under veterinary care in the UK.


In humans, reduced activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase type A (MAOA) due to genetic polymorphisms within the MAOA gene leads to increased brain neurotransmitter levels associated with aggression. In order to study MAOA genetic diversity in dogs, we designed a preliminary study whose objectives were to identify novel alleles in functionally important regions of the canine MAOA gene, and to investigate whether the frequencies of these polymorphisms varied between five broad breed groups (ancient, herding, mastiff, modern European, and mountain). Fifty dogs representing these five breed groups were sequenced.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Allele, Evolution, Neurotransmitter, Monoamine oxidase, Dog breed, Monoamine oxidase A


Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) represents a major problem in the Dachshund, with at a relative risk of IVDD 10-12 times higher than other breeds, and an estimated 19-24 % of Dachshunds showing clinical signs related to IVDD during their lifetime. A variety of genetic, physical and lifestyle-related risk factors for IVDD have previously been identified, with some conflicting findings. As such, advising owners and breeders regarding best-practice for IVDD prevention is challenging at present. This study aimed to (i) estimate prevalence of IVDD in six Dachshund varieties, and (ii) identify risk factors associated with IVDD diagnosis from a wide variety of demographic, conformational, dietary, activity and exercise-related variables.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Death, Mathematics, Medical statistics, Medical diagnosis, Dog breed, Subspecies, Dachshund