1870: Genetics of Hereditary Deafness in the Domestic Dog

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $77,000
Keith E. Murphy, PhD; Texas A&M University
September 9, 1999 - September 8, 2002

Sponsor(s): Dalmatian Club of America Foundation, Inc., English Setter Association of America, Inc.

Breed(s): English Setter, Dalmatian
Research Program Area: General Canine Health
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Project Summary

Hereditary loss of hearing affects many breeds of the domestic dog, but the Dalmatian has the highest prevalence. Approximately 30% are affected in the United States (U.S.) population. It is widely accepted that a relationship exists between deafness and pigmentation in the dog and also in other animals. While the Dalmatian exemplifies this relationship, the genetic origin and mode of inheritance of deafness in this breed are unknown. The goals of this study were to: (1) estimate the heritability of deafness in an extended kindred of U.S. Dalmatians and (2) determine, through complex segregation analysis, whether there is a major segregating locus that has a large effect on the expression of deafness. A kindred of 266 Dalmatians was assembled, of which 199 had been diagnosed using the brainstem auditory evoked response to determine auditory status. Of these, 74.4% (N = 148) had normal hearing, 18.1% (N = 36) were unilaterally deaf, and 7.5% (N = 15) were bilaterally deaf. A heritability of 0.73 was estimated considering deafness a dichotomous trait and 0.75 considering it as a trichotomous trait. Although deafness in the Dalmatian is clearly heritable, the evidence for the presence of a single major gene affecting the disorder is not persuasive.


Cargill, E. J. (2004). Heritability and Segregation Analysis of Deafness in U.S. Dalmatians. Genetics, 166(3), 1385–1393. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.166.3.1385

Cargill, Edward J, Famula, T. R., Schnabel, R. D., Strain, G. M., & Murphy, K. E. (2005). The color of a Dalmatian’s spots: Linkage evidence to support the TYRP1 gene. BMC Veterinary Research, 1(1), 3.

Cargill, E.J., Schnabel, R. D., & Murphy, K. E. (2004). Assignment of Canine MSS1 Microsatellite Markers to Chromosomes by Linkage Data. DNA Sequence, 15(3), 209–212. https://doi.org/10.1080/10425170410001704490

Tsai, K. L., Guyon, R., & Murphy, K. E. (2003). Identification of isoforms and RH mapping of canine KIT. Cytogenetic and Genome Research, 102(1–4), 261–263. https://doi.org/10.1159/000075759

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