Spina bifida is a neural tube birth defect where the baby’s backbone and its surrounding membranes fail to properly develop. Researchers found one genetic mutation in Weimaraners that causes spina bifida, which is also present in humans, but not found in any other dog species.
Great Danes are one of the best canine models for human cancer research because they have the highest chance of developing a malignancy in their lifetime. Compared to lab rats and mice, Great Danes are better models for human disease because they are genetically more similar. All too often, treatments that have worked in lab mice haven’t worked when we’ve taken them to human clinical trials. [The canine] model is much closer to human disease.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Working with narcoleptic Doberman Pinschers, researchers discovered that canine narcolepsy is inherited directly from the parents and is an autosomal recessive trait, meaning both parents must pass down the mutated gene for the offspring to develop the disorder. Although there is not yet a cure for human narcolepsy the Doberman Pinscher may provide an important clue to understanding why they both fell asleep…on and off the job.