Deafness Research

Dr. George Strain, LSU, is continuing his research on hereditary deafness in dogs. He has received two CHF Grants (abstracts below) one is closed, the other is about to close. He has applied to CHF for another grant. Despite the current lack of grant funding he is continuing to do limited studies while he waits for additional funds. Currently, he would like English Cocker participation. This participation is limited to Bilaterally Deaf PLUS a Normal Bilaterally Hearing Sibling. You can contact Dr. Strain’s laboratory for full details regarding participation. The study involves simple cheek swab collection. You will need to furnish BAER test results. Once you contact Dr. Strain permission forms, instructions, and saliva collection kits will be sent. Contact Dr. Strain at: strain@lsu.edu or 225-578-9758 for further information.

His research involved three breeds: English Setters, Dalmations, and Australian Cattle Dogs. Over 500 dogs were sampled, including a large number from the Animal Health Trust in England. Dr. Strain stated: The results have been spectacularly unsuccessful so far. We restricted the work initially to the two breeds then three breeds because of their expressed interest, available funds from the clubs, and the relatively high deafness prevalence in those three breeds. We have done genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with no identified significant marker associations, and we have done whole genome sequencing (WGS) of about 11 dogs from the three breeds, hearing and deaf, from which we plan to compare sequences of identified candidate genes. That work is incomplete; I’m waiting to hear on another CHF grant to continue that work.

Dr. Strain has continued to collect saliva samples for DNA isolation from deaf/hearing pairs from other breeds when they are seen for BAER testing. Jack Russells, Old English, Catahoula, Dogos, and a few others are participating in this study. English Cockers are not seen often and there are very few that are were/seen as deaf or unilateral BAER testing at ECSCA past National Specialties was generally slanted toward a more likely normal population. Unilaterally deaf dogs were identified. Folks that had deaf dogs did BAER test to confirm the condition. He doesn’t have DNA samples from English Cockers.

PLEASE CONTACT DR.STRAIN IF YOU CAN PARTICIPATE WITH AN AFFECTED AND A NORMAL SIBLING. ANY AGE.

ADDI PITTMAN, CHAIRMAN
ECSCA HEALTH EDUCATION

02172-MOU: Understanding Hereditary Deafness in Dogs
Grant Status: Closed
Grant Amount: $120,015
George M. Strain, PhD; Louisiana State University
November 1, 2015 – October 31, 2018
Sponsor(s): Australian Cattle Dog Health, Education, and Welfare, Australian Cattle Dog Club of America, Dalmatian Club of America, and the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation
Breed(s): Dalmatian
Research Program Area: Neurology

ABSTRACT
Hereditary deafness associated with white pigmentation occurs in numerous dog breeds. The breeds most affected are the Dalmatian (Dal, 22% unilaterally deaf, 8% bilaterally deaf) and the Australian cattle dog (ACD, 11.4% and 3%). The mechanism of inheritance is unknown, and previous studies to determine the mode of inheritance and locate the causative gene(s) have thus far been unsuccessful. Using a modified twin study approach, full-sibling littermates will be clinically and genetically evaluated. Like human twins, full siblings should have very similar DNA, which will reduce the variability of their DNA when compared to studies of unrelated dogs. Using the Illumina CanineHD Beadchip, which contains 172,115 DNA markers (SNPs) spread uniformly across the canine chromosomes, markers will be compared between the sibling pairs, and differences between siblings at individual markers will thus be identified. Using this approach candidate deafness genes can be identified and will advance the current understanding of this heritable disorder. Funding for the research is provided through the efforts and generosity of the Australian Cattle Dog Health, Education, and Welfare , Australian Cattle Dog Club of America , Dalmatian Club of America, and the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation. The AKC Canine Health Foundation supports this effort and will oversee administration of funds and scientific progress reporting.

02387-MOU: Hereditary Deafness in Dogs – Genomic Studies in English Setters Using Full Sibling Pairs
Grant Status: Closed
Grant Amount: $12,960
George Strain, PhD; Louisiana State University
September 1, 2017 – February 28, 2019
Breed(s): English Setter
Research Program Area: Neurology

ABSTRACT
Hereditary deafness associated with white pigmentation occurs in several dog breeds. The mechanism of inheritance is unknown, but does not appear to be simple Mendelian. Numerous studies to determine the mode of inheritance and locate the causative gene(s) have thus far failed.
The investigators will use a unique modified twin study approach in an effort to determine the mode of inheritance and locate the causative gene(s). Full‐sibling littermates will be identified, where one puppy has normal hearing and one is deaf. Like human twins, full siblings should have very similar DNA, which will reduce the variability of the DNA samples when compared to studies of unrelated dogs. The study of pairs of English Setters will be added to an ongoing study examining differences in Dalmatian and Australian Cattle Dog pairs. Identifying candidate deafness genes will be an important breakthrough to understanding deafness in dogs and people, with a goal to establish a genetic test to reduce or eliminate deafness in these canine populations.

Funding for the research is provided through the collaborative efforts and generosity of the English Setter Association of America. The AKC Canine Health Foundation supports the funding of this effort and will oversee administration of funds and scientific progress reports.

George M. Strain, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience
Comparative Biomedical Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
office 225-578-9758 | fax 225-578-9895
strain@lsu.edu | lsu.edu | www.lsu.edu/deafness/deaf.htm
http://facultypages.vetmed.lsu.edu/faculty/strain
Facebook: george.strain

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