02797: Do Dog Breeds Differ in Pain Sensitivity?

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $104,147
Margaret Gruen, DVM, PhD; North Carolina State University
March 1, 2020 - August 31, 2023


Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: General Canine Health
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The investigators’ recent comprehensive survey found that both veterinarians and members of the public believe that dog breeds differ in their sensitivity to pain, yet this has never been fully investigated. Beliefs about breed differences in pain sensitivity could negatively impact clinical recognition and treatment of pain in dogs and result in unnecessary pain, particularly for breeds viewed as less sensitive to pain. The investigators hypothesize that dogs have similar pain sensitivity thresholds, regardless of breed, but that human perceptions about breed-based differences in pain sensitivity affect the clinical recognition and treatment of pain. This study will endeavor to answer whether dog breeds differ in pain sensitivity, and whether breed affects veterinarians’ treatment of pain in dogs. If breed differences in pain sensitivity exist, future work would be performed to understand genetic associations, and advance our understanding of effectively treating pain in a breed-specific manner. If no differences exist, then the impact of the human perception of breed differences must be understood to ensure that dogs of every breed receive appropriate pain management.


Cunningham, R. M., Park, R. M., Knazovicky, D., Lascelles, B. D. X., & Gruen, M. E. (2021). Assessment of Sensory Thresholds in Dogs using Mechanical and Hot Thermal Quantitative Sensory Testing. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments), 176, e62841. https://doi.org/10.3791/62841

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