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Bulldogs’ tails give insight into rare human disorder
Bulldogs, French bulldogs and Boston terries all share a feature not found in other breeds - a short, kinked tail or “screw tail”.
Scientists identify link between ‘screw tails’ and Robinow syndrome

Researchers in the US have made a link between the bulldog’s curly tail and a rare inherited disorder in humans.

Scientists from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, found a common mutation in bulldogs and French bulldogs that is similar to genetic changes in the human disease, Robinow syndrome.

They believe that understanding this common mutation in these popular dog breeds could give more insight into this rare condition. The study has been published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

“It’s a very rare human disease but very common in dogs, so this could be a model for the human syndrome,” said professor Danika Bannash from UC Davis.

Bulldogs, French bulldogs and Boston terries all share a feature not found in other breeds - a short, kinked tail or “screw tail”. This is because all three breeds are missing the vertebrae that makes up the tail bone.

To learn more about the genetics associated with screw tail breeds, researchers analysed the genome of 100 dogs, of which 10 were screw tails.

From over 12 million individual differences, the researchers identified one mutation in a gene called DISHEVELLED 2 or DVL2. The variant was present in 100 per cent of the bulldogs and French bulldogs sampled, and it was also common in Boston terriers.

In humans, mutations in the related DVL1 and DVL3 genes are linked to Robinow syndrome - a disorder that causes a short, wide “babyface”, spinal deformities and short limbs - traits also shared by screw tail breeds.

The study also identified a key biochemical step in the pathway disrupted by the mutation, suggesting that a common molecular defect is responsible for the appearances of both Robinow patients and screw tail dog breeds. 

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.