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BACKGROUND: Diabetes mellitus (DM) in dogs is a common endocrinopathy with a complex genetic architecture. Disease susceptibility in several breeds is associated with polymorphisms in immune response genes, but in the Labrador retriever breed, no genetic associations with DM have been identified. A deletion in the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene in Labrador retrievers is associated with increased appetite and risk of obesity. HYPOTHESIS/OBJECTIVES: To characterize the POMC deletion in Labrador retrievers, to develop a simple genetic test for this mutation, and to test the hypothesis that the POMC gene deletion is associated with an increased risk of DM in this breed. ANIMALS: Sixty-one non-diabetic Labrador retrievers aged >6 years and 57 Labrador retrievers with DM. METHODS: Case-control genotyping study to compare the frequency of the POMC deletion in dogs with and without DM. After polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing to characterize the mutation, a PCR-based test was developed and validated using 2 different restriction fragment length polymorphism assays. RESULTS: A 14-base-pair deletion was confirmed and localized to exon 3 of the canine POMC gene. A PCR-based test for the deletion was successfully developed. There was no association between the presence of the POMC deletion mutation and DM in this population of Labrador retriever dogs (P = .31). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: This study adds to the existing scientific literature indicating that there is little evidence for a direct link between obesity and DM in dogs.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vet Intern Med

Publication Date





343 - 348


Endocrinology, Genetics, Pancreas, Polymerase chain reaction, Animals, Case-Control Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Dog Diseases, Dogs, Female, Gene Deletion, Genetic Association Studies, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Male, Obesity, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Pro-Opiomelanocortin