2120: Investigating Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in Weimaraner Dogs

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $26,460
Danika L Bannasch, DVM, PhD; University of California, Davis
August 1, 2014 - July 31, 2015

Sponsor(s): Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Weimaraner Club of America

Breed(s): Weimaraner
Research Program Area: Musculoskeletal Conditions and Disease
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Project Summary

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) is a painful bone disease that can cause lameness in rapidly growing large-breed puppies. HOD is more common in Weimaraners than in other breeds and whole litters and related individuals have been reported to have had HOD.  Sick Weimaraner puppies may have several episodes of HOD requiring hospitalization for intensive care. The severe pain and poor quality of life, accompanied by the high costs of hospitalization, have led some owners to elect euthanasia. Other commonly affected large breed dogs include the Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, Boxer, Standard Poodle, German Shepherd and Irish Setter dogs.

We have been investigating how genetic variants play a role in triggering HOD episodes in dogs, like Weimaraner, that have a high prevalence for the disease. By comparing the genetic make-up of dogs with HOD and unaffected control dogs, we identified two genomic regions where affected dogs are different than unaffected dogs. However, the differences are not large enough to explain the high frequency of the disease in the breed. In order to investigate whether or not all Weimaraners are susceptible to HOD, we have been expanding our investigation to the entire genome of Weimaraners and comparing them to other breeds affected by HOD. We have identified regions of homozygosity in Weimaraners that may explain HOD disease mechanism in the breed. The investigation is currently ongoing. Additionally, we have been testing serum samples from Weimaraners to identify differences in immune markers’ levels between affected and unaffected dogs. Results of the immune profile of circulating markers in the breed seem to add to the understanding gleamed from the investigation of genetic variants. Additional experiments are currently being conducted and it is expected that the results will be published in the near future. It is our goal to be able to provide Weimaraner owners with information to allow breed-specific care during the period of rapid growth when they are susceptible to HOD.


Safra, N., Hitchens, P. L., Maverakis, E., Mitra, A., Korff, C., Johnson, E., … Bannasch, D. L. (2016). Serum levels of innate immunity cytokines are elevated in dogs with metaphyseal osteopathy (hypertrophic osteodytrophy) during active disease and remission. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 179, 32–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetimm.2016.08.003

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