Largest dog genetic study concludes

Our DNA contains genes that instruct the body’s functions. Those genes are passed from generation to generation along with inherited traits and diseases, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Now, a new study has mapped that landscape for canine patients.

Researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University (Cornell) have completed the largest genetic study of dogs to date, comprising the genetic analysis of 4,200 dogs.

The study, published on Jan. 22 in the journal Nature Communications, investigated 180,000 genetic markers, DNA sequences with a known physical location on a chromosome.

“The more we know about the genetic basis of diseases, the better we are at keeping pure-bred dog populations genetically healthy,” said Adam R. Boyko, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and the paper’s senior author.

“We found 17 genes for body size in dogs, and by looking at those genes we can predict a dog’s size with 90 percent accuracy,” said Boyko.

In the study, the researchers conducted simulations to show that “in dogs, we expect to be able to identify genetic risk factors for most major diseases with 1000 individual dogs and 1000 controls,” Boyko said.

The researchers analyzed samples of more than 150 breeds, 170 mixed-breed dogs, and 350 free-ranging village dogs from the Cornell Veterinary Biobank. 

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