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The dog breeds most likely to carry disease-causing genetic mutations have been revealed, with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels sadly taking the top spot.
According to new research from Uppsala University in Sweden, small pocket dogs have unfortunately been negatively affected by years of inbreeding and are now at higher risk of heart disease. In fact, scientists found that the breed had genetic variants linked to myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) – the most common acquired heart disease in small breed dogs.
Erik Axelsson, who published the results in the journal PLOS Genetics, said years of breeding have caused many dogs to inherit genetic diseases.
“We are finding that individuals belonging to the breed affected by the most intense breeding – the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (cKC) – carry more harmful variants than other breeds,” he said in the newspaper. “[This indicates] that past breeding practices may have increased overall levels of harmful genetic variation in dogs. “
As part of the research, the team sequenced entire genomes of 20 dogs from eight common breeds. While the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been found to carry more harmful genetic variants than others, scientists have found that Standard Poodles also carry harmful genetic variants than others.
“In the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in particular, one or more of these mutations affect the heart muscle protein NEBL and may predispose this breed to devastating heart disease,” Erik adds.
Take a look at the breeds below that are now at risk for disease causing genetic mutations:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- German shepherd
- Golden retriever
- Labrador retriever
- Standard poodle
- West Highland White Terrier
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