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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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Stephen Fry lends voice to frog conservation film

News Story 1
 Comedian and author Stephen Fry has lent his voice to a new animation that hopes to raise awareness of deadly ranavirus, which is threatening the UK’s frogs.

Research by ZSL, who created the short film, suggests that at least 20 per cent of ranavirus cases over the past three decades, could be attributed to human introductions. This includes pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn and plants from other environments.

Amphibian disease expert Dr Stephen Price said: “People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them elsewhere will also help.” 

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BVA Welsh Branch elects new president

Veterinary surgeon Ifan Lloyd was elected president of the BVA Welsh Branch at its AGM on 25 June.

Ifan has worked mainly in mixed practice since graduating from Cambridge University in 1988. He was a partner at St James Veterinary Group for 23 years and has continued to work part time at the practice since retiring in 2017.

He is passionate about animal health and disease eradication. He is a director of Cefn Gwlad Solutions, a company set up to lead bovine TB programmes in collaboration with other stakeholders. He is also director of lechyd Da (gwledig), the bTB testing delivery partner in South Wales.

Ifan said, “As a founding member of BVA Welsh Branch I am honoured and delighted to be elected as President. I have been passionate about representing the veterinary profession in Wales for many years and I plan to use this experience to represent my colleagues to the best of my abilities.”