The genetic differentiation of dog breeds has led to alterations in metabolism

A recently published article shows that canine breeds can be distinguished by alterations in their lipidome. The study of Lloyd et al. (2017) examined lipidome differences in 100 dogs from 9 different breeds. The study showed distinct inter-breed differences in the breeds’ lipidomes. This study highlights that the genetic differentiation of dog breeds has resulted in alterations in metabolism.

100 dogs, 9 breeds

Lloyd et al. (2017) studied 100 Australian client-owned dogs from nine different breeds. The feeding and other environmental factors were not standardized. The dogs lived normal lives in their homes and were fed by their owners’ feeding regimens. Breeds encompassed in the study were Beagle (n=12), Chihuahua (n=7), Cocker Spaniel (n=12), Dachshund (n=8), Golden Retriever (n=12), Greyhound (n=12), German Shepherd dog (n=12), Labrador Retriever (n=12) and Maltese (n=9).

Inter-breed lipidome differences were identified

Principal Component-Linear Discriminant Analysis showed separation of breeds into clusters. These cluster differences became more pronounced when diet signals were removed. Groups of breeds could then be differentiated by certain metabolites. Clear breed-specific signals were found in Chihuahuas, Golden Retrievers and Greyhounds. (Lloyd et al., 2017) 

For example, Chihuahuas had lower plasma Vitamin D3 sterol lipids and phosphatidylcholines compared to other breeds (Lloyd et al., 2017). A previous study showed that the size of the dog affects vitamin D metabolism (Tryfonidou et al., 2003). A previous study also noted, that the cholesterol levels of Chihuahuas were lower than in other breeds (Usui et al., 2014). Cholesterol is an important sterol in animal tissues and is required in for example vitamin D synthesis.

Golden Retrievers had elevated signal intensity of sphingolipids, sphingomyelins and phosphatidylcholines (Lloyd et al., 2017).  Sphingolipids might be involved in the occurrence of skin disorders, such as atopy, in Golden Retrievers.

Other factors involved in metabolism

Breed is still only one factor affecting metabolism. Metabolism is also affected by for example diseases, feeding, hormonal activity, exercise, and other environmental factors. Better understanding of the consequences of these factors improves precision of disease diagnostics. Knowing the breeds’ unique alterations in metabolism and metabolic susceptibilities to disease will help in dietary planning.


Lloyd A, Beckmann M, Wilson T, Tailliart K, Allaway D, Draper J. Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry plasma lipidomics can distinguish between canine breeds despite uncontrolled environmental variability and non-standardized diets. Metabolomics (2017) 13:15 DOI 10.1007/s11306-016-1152-0. Link to publication

Tryfonidou, M. A., Holl, M. S., Vastenburg, M., et al. Hormonal regulation of calcium homeostasis in two breeds of dogs during growth at different rates. Journal of Animal Science, 81 (2003), 1568–1580.

Usui, S., Mizoguchi, Y., Yasuda, H., Arai, N., & Koketsu, Y. Dog age and breeds associated with high plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science/The Japanese Society of Veterinary Science, 76 (2004), 269–123.

Genoscoper has initiated a research and development project in collaboration with the canine genetic research group at the University of Helsinki, with the aim to develop a test to measure the metabolites in dogs. The tested biomarkers can be utilised for veterinary diagnostics and treatment, for individual nutrition and exercise recommendations, and potentially for finding disease-associated indications in the metabolism to enable predictive health care.