The insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) contributes to reduced size in dogs

Mamm Genome. 2012 Dec;23(11-12):780-90. doi: 10.1007/s00335-012-9417-z. Epub 2012 Aug 18.


Domestic dog breeds have undergone intense selection for a variety of morphologic features, including size. Among small-dog breeds, defined as those averaging less than ~15 in. at the withers, there remains still considerable variation in body size. Yet essentially all such dogs are fixed for the same allele at the insulin-like growth factor 1 gene, which we and others previously found to be a size locus of large effect. In this study we sought to identify additional genes that contribute to tiny size in dogs using an association scan with the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset CanMap, in which 915 purebred dogs were genotyped at 60,968 SNP markers. Our strongest association for tiny size (defined as breed-average height not more than 10 in. at the withers) was on canine chromosome 3 (p = 1.9 × 10(-70)). Fine mapping revealed a nonsynonymous SNP at chr3:44,706,389 that changes a highly conserved arginine at amino acid 204 to histidine in the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R). This mutation is predicted to prevent formation of several hydrogen bonds within the cysteine-rich domain of the receptor's ligand-binding extracellular subunit. Nine of 13 tiny dog breeds carry the mutation and many dogs are homozygous for it. This work underscores the central importance of the IGF1 pathway in controlling the tremendous size diversity of dogs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Body Size / genetics*
  • Body Size / physiology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Dogs / growth & development*
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / chemistry
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods


  • DNA Primers
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1