Hereditary disorders in dogs more common than initially thought

September 16, 2016

Considered to be the most comprehensive study on canine hereditary disorders, researchers recently tested nearly 7,000 dogs from about 230 different breeds and found that a lot of canine hereditary disorders are more widespread than originally believed.

According to a report from the University of Helsinki, the team tested the dogs for predisposition to almost 100 different genetic disorders and discovered that one out of six dogs had at least one of the tested disease predisposing genetic variants in their genome.

Some of the variants discovered were those causing factor VII deficiency, hyperuricosuria, lens luxation, von Willebrand’s disease, multifocal retinopathy, multidrug resistance, and rod-cone dysplasia. The study also uncovered plausible molecular explanations for chondrodysplasia in the Chinook, cerebellar ataxia in the Norrbottenspitz, and familiar nephropathy in the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

"The technological potential to test a dog for multiple inherited disorders at once has existed for several years," Dr. Jonas Donner, lead author of the study explained in the article. "The challenge is to harness that potential for practical use in improved veterinary disease diagnostics, sustainable breeding selections, personalized pet care, and canine genetics research."

Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers also observed that one in six of the genetic variants for disorders were found in dog breeds never before recorded in, further proving the disorders are more common than previously believed.

"Our study demonstrates the importance of collaboration between different contributors — academics, industry and dog fanciers — to reach novel resources that not only enable better understanding of canine genetic health across breeds but also provides viable solutions to improve health," Dr. Hannes Lohi, senior author from the University of Helsinki, said.

According to the study, these practical examples illustrate how genetic panel screening represents a comprehensive, efficient and powerful diagnostic and research discovery tool with a range of applications in veterinary care, disease research, and breeding.

In all, the researchers said they while they concluded that several known disease alleles are more widespread across different breeds than previously recognized, careful follow-up studies of any unexpected discoveries are essential to establish genotype-phenotype correlations, as is readiness to provide genetic counseling on their implications for the dog and its breed.

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Category: Animal Safety, Genomics, Companion Animal, Veterinary, Companion Animal Genetic Traits & Conditions