Canine diabetes mellitus (DM) shares many similarities with human type 1 diabetes (T1D). It is a complex genetic disorder, which shows marked differences in breed susceptibility, with Samoyed dogs being highly susceptible, whereas the Boxer breed is relatively resistant. A number of immune response genes, which have been associated with human T1D, have also been implicated in determining susceptibility to canine DM, suggesting an immune-mediated component to the disease pathogenesis. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CTLA4 gene have consistently and reproducibly been associated with human T1D and other autoimmune diseases but the canine CTLA4 gene has not previously been investigated for involvement in canine DM. SNPs of particular interest in the human association studies are those in the promoter region which affect CTLA4 expression levels, and that of exon 1 which results in a non-synonymous amino acid change. We performed a canine SNP discovery investigation of CTLA4 on a region of DNA containing exon 1 and 1.5 kb upstream sequence in order to identify promoter region SNPs. Confirmed SNPs were used in a genetic association study of a canine diabetic cohort showing that CTLA4 promoter polymorphisms were associated with diabetes in crossbreed dogs and in five Pedigree breeds-Samoyed, Miniature Schnauzer, West Highland White Terrier, Border Terrier and Labrador. Meta-analysis of these breeds showed 9 out of 15 SNPs were associated with DM and genotype and haplotype analyses also confirmed the allelic associations in these breeds.