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THE PROBLEM: Many studies have identified genes and genetic variants associated with diseases in dogs. However, few studies have looked at why some dog live much longer than others for their breed. It’s unclear if genetics and possibly other factors, including sex and hormone exposure, are at play, delaying the onset of deadly diseases like cancer and contributing to long lifespans for some dogs.

THE PROJECT: To fill this knowledge gap, researchers will study the genetic and health data of dogs enrolled in the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. The team will focus their study on the ERBB4 gene, a peculiar gene that has both an active and a suppressive role in cancer. The team wants to know if ERBB4 variants and other cofactors, including spay/neuter status, contribute to lower cancer risk and longevity for some golden retrievers.

POTENTIAL IMPACT: If ERBB4 variants are found to be associated with diagnoses of malignant cancers, these findings could represent an effective target to prevent or treat specific cancers in golden retrievers and related breeds. Findings also could inform breeding practices and impact spay/neuter decisions as it relates to cancer risk and longevity for dogs.

Study ID
Study Status
Grant recipient
University of California, Davis
Study country
United States
Robert Rebhun, DVM, PhD
Study category