02193-A: Identifying the Genetic Basis of Fetal Anasarca in Bulldogs/Canines

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $12,960
Anna V. Kukekova, PhD; University of Illinois
October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2018


Breed(s): Bulldog
Research Program Area: Reproductive Conditions
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Dystocia is one of the most significant reproductive health concerns for dog owners and breeders. While there can be many causes of dystocia, the occurrence of so-called "water" or "walrus" puppies is one of the more common reasons within particular breeds. Water puppies suffer from the abnormal accumulation of body fluids, called anasarca, resulting in a generalized swelling of the body. Normal delivery through the birth canal then becomes difficult or even impossible, oftentimes requiring intervention by caesarean section. Water puppies are generally stillborn or die shortly after birth. While anasarca affects many dog breeds, it appears to be more frequent in the brachycephalic breeds including the Bulldog, French bulldog, Pug, Boston terrier and others. Due to the known genetic relationship between these breeds and the recurrence of anasarca puppies in specific matings, it is strongly believed that there is a significant genetic risk factor associated with this problem. Modern genetic tools and techniques have greatly improved the ability to identify specific variations in DNA which may be responsible for such traits. Thus, in an effort initiated by the Bulldog Club of America and Bulldog Club of America Charitable Health Fund, samples from newborn puppies with anasarca, their parents, and non-affected puppies have been collected, and will be utilized to analyze for a genetic basis of anasarca in an effort to develop a DNA-based test that can be used to screen for and reduce the incidence of this devastating disease.


Hekman, J. P., Johnson, J. L., & Kukekova, A. V. (2015). Transcriptome Analysis in Domesticated Species: Challenges and Strategies. Bioinformatics and Biology Insights, 9S4, BBI.S29334. https://doi.org/10.4137/BBI.S29334

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