The canine species consists of more than 400 breeds as a result of artificial selection by man for over 10,000 years, especially in the last two centuries… The consequences of this selection, in addition to fixing many phenotypes within each breed, are the numerous breed specific genetic diseases. This situation, where within a species so many breeds were created to meet multiple and varied objectives (such as looks, hunting, search and rescue, truffle hunting…), makes the dog a unique model for not only identifying the genes responsible for these phenotypes (morphology, behavior…), but also many genetic diseases, most of which are homologous to human diseases.
The majority of the current canine breeds are affected by many genetic diseases which are spontaneous, specific to the breed, and quite common. Our research, which aims to identify the genetic components, has several objectives:
- To identify new genes in the dog in order to develop genetic diagnostic/screening tests for veterinary medicine and breeding.
- To apply the knowledge from this spontaneous model to diseases and phenotypes which correspond to those found in man and to develop new prognostic markers, new treatments…
- To contribute to the fundamental knowledge on the function of new genes.
The goal of this research on canine genetics, introduced in 1995 by Pr. Francis Galibert, was to develop molecular genetics tools dedicated to the canine genome. As a result of this research, a number of projects on the genetic components of diseases homologous between man and dog are underway which will interest both medical and veterinary genetics. Other research projects are looking at olfaction and the understanding and evolution of genomes, especially the dog genome.