Certain breeds of dog, including the Samoyed, Cairn and Tibetan terriers are predisposed to developing diabetes, whereas others, including the boxer and German shepherd dog, are less susceptible. Such breed differences suggest that there is a genetic component to disease susceptibility.


The Canine Diabetes Genetics Partnership was established by RVC investigators and collaborators to undertake whole genome sequencing and genetic analysis of dogs at high and low risk of diabetes mellitus.

Genetic research at the RVC investigates the relationship between genotype and phenotype in humans and veterinary species. By understanding the function of the genes affecting risk of type 1 diabetes, we have the potential to reveal novel pathways for preventative or therapeutic intervention. The researchers are also interested in the role of environmental factors in diabetes risk, such as variation in the microbiome and its associated metabolites.

Lucy Davison is currently working on the 16p13.13 region in humans, which affects risk of many autoimmune conditions including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and primary biliary sclerosis. A combination of techniques are used, including global gene expression analyses, recombinant protein expression and purification, functional assessment of cells after overexpression and CRISPR-CAs9 knockout of genes in vitro and in vivo, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and chromosome conformation capture.

There is a special focus on canine diabetes in Lucy Davison’s research into canine and feline endocrinology. She is a lead investigator in the Canine Diabetes Genetics Partnership, which is a consortium of clinicians and scientists employing whole genome sequencing to understand breed-associated risks of canine diabetes.


The Medical Research Council

The JDRF/EASD/Lilly Programme in Type 1 Diabetes

The PetPlan Charitable Trust

The American Kennel Club

Dechra Veterinary Pharmaceuticals


Title Publication Year
Genetics of canine diabetes mellitus part 1: Phenotypes of disease The Veterinary Journal 2021
Genetics of canine diabetes mellitus part 2: Current understanding and future directions The Veterinary Journal 2021
Diabetes mellitus in dogs attending UK primary-care practices: frequency, risk factors and survival Canine Medicine and Genetics 2020
Dog leucocyte antigen (DLA) class II haplotypes and risk of canine diabetes mellitus in specific dog breeds Canine Medicine and Genetics 2020


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