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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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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
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New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”