Dalmatian dogs might be aw-shucks cute, but they universally suffer from high levels of uric acid in their blood, making them prone to develop bladder stones. Now researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have identified the genetic mutation that predisposes dalmatians to have high uric acid.
The defect has been known for nearly a century and was probably unintentionally introduced as breeders worked to select more distinctive spotting patterns, said veterinary geneticist Danika Bannasch, who lead the study.
“It is now possible that this trait can be removed from the breed by crossing Dalmatians with the normal offspring of the original Dalmatian-pointer breeding that occurred in the early 1970s,” Bannasch said.
The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory in UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine will begin offering DNA testing for the mutation in dogs to allow breeders to eliminate the trait. Information on the testing program will be available online here.
Other dog breeds do not produce uric acid; humans and great apes do, leading for example to kidney stones, high blood pressure and gout. Humans carry the same gene (SLC2A9), but uric acid problems in humans seem to be caused by a different mechanism. However, understanding how the condition occurs in dogs could help in working out the human disease.