Does the Breed of My Dog Influence their Test Results?

It is thought there is over 300 recognised breeds of dogs around the World.  The American Kennel Club recognise around 190 of them, and the UK Kennel Club recognise 221.  For those of us who have a preference for a certain breed we may fondly discuss our love of the Labrador’s happy-go-lucky nature or the trainability of the poodle.  It is clear there are breed differences, which suggests a genetic blueprint of certain traits and characteristic.  We also know there are genetic predispositions to certain health issues in various breeds.  But would you be surprised to learn that there may be breed differences in clinical measurements?

A group of researchers, hoping to establish genetic differences in clinical measurements in humans decided that dogs most closely resemble human parameters and so set out to test eight different breeds for 40 clinical markers.

Findings Here

This is what they found.

For the majority of clinical markers, the researchers couldn’t find any significant genetic variants, but for three, they did.

Alanine transaminase: ALT

ALT is one of the more commonly known liver enzymes.  ALT level in blood is used for the diagnosis of liver disease and injury in human and veterinary medicine.

Researchers found a variant (SNP) on the gene known as GPT which codes for ALT.  A causal variant linked with this SNP could increase expression level of GPT, which would lead to the production of more ALT protein.

Belgian Shepherds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Doberman, Finnish Lapphund, and Newfoundland were breeds identified with a significant variation on this gene compared to other tested breeds, suggesting they may have a higher-than-average ALT level as standard.

Additional data has suggested that elevated ALT doesn’t lead to metabolic disease per se and in fact metabolic disease is what leads to elevated enzymes.  Therefore, it’s essential to consider test results in context and alongside other results, signs, and symptoms.

What Could Cause Elevated Liver Enzymes in My Dog?


Fructosamine is a stable condensation product of glucose with serum proteins. It is used as a biomarker for diagnosing and managing diabetes because fructosamine reflects the average blood sugar concentration over the preceding 2 weeks.

The researchers found variations in the gene which codes for this protein in the Finnish Lapphund, German Shepherd and Newfoundland.

Again, it would be an important consideration to make when monitoring these test results over a period of time, in light of any correlating signs and symptoms.

The last marker is one that is particularly interesting.

Stress During Physical Exam

The researchers identified an experimental-wide association with stress during physical examination at chromosome 1.  Two breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Dachshunds were the most significant.  Dogs with the A allele of BICF2P1232291 showed more stress during physical examination.

Whilst genes are fixed, we can often influence their expression and in this case, we can also mitigate stress in our dog’s life to regulate that overarching response.

If you are planning a visit where your dog will need a physical examination:

  • Limit stress before the visit,
  • Engage in calming and enriching activities to activate that parasympathetic nervous system,
  • Consider the use of a thunder jacket or similar,
  • Allow your dog to decompress after the examination – again offering activities to activate that parasympathetic nervous system (chewing, enrichment, sniffing etc.)

What Does All This Mean?

This data suggests genetic variations in three clinical markers in certain breeds.  However, these researchers only tested eight breeds.  It would be interesting to establish how the data may change when testing additional breeds, especially when there are so many around the world.

We know there are genetic glitches which contribute to the development of certain health issues, like the filaggrin mutation in skin health, or glitches in zinc absorption in certain sled dogs, but this information further highlights how complex our pet’s health issues truly can be.

Can Genes Result in Poor Skin Function?

Why Zinc is Important for Your Dog

If you feel overwhelmed by your dog’s health issues, then please check out our services to see how we can help.

Thanks for reading,

MPN Team

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