Derived variants at six genes explain nearly half of size reduction in dog breeds

Genome Res. 2013 Dec;23(12):1985-95. doi: 10.1101/gr.157339.113. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Selective breeding of dogs by humans has generated extraordinary diversity in body size. A number of multibreed analyses have been undertaken to identify the genetic basis of this diversity. We analyzed four loci discovered in a previous genome-wide association study that used 60,968 SNPs to identify size-associated genomic intervals, which were too large to assign causative roles to genes. First, we performed fine-mapping to define critical intervals that included the candidate genes GHR, HMGA2, SMAD2, and STC2, identifying five highly associated markers at the four loci. We hypothesize that three of the variants are likely to be causative. We then genotyped each marker, together with previously reported size-associated variants in the IGF1 and IGF1R genes, on a panel of 500 domestic dogs from 93 breeds, and identified the ancestral allele by genotyping the same markers on 30 wild canids. We observed that the derived alleles at all markers correlated with reduced body size, and smaller dogs are more likely to carry derived alleles at multiple markers. However, breeds are not generally fixed at all markers; multiple combinations of genotypes are found within most breeds. Finally, we show that 46%-52.5% of the variance in body size of dog breeds can be explained by seven markers in proximity to exceptional candidate genes. Among breeds with standard weights <41 kg (90 lb), the genotypes accounted for 64.3% of variance in weight. This work advances our understanding of mammalian growth by describing genetic contributions to canine size determination in non-giant dog breeds.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Body Size / genetics*
  • Breeding*
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • HMGA2 Protein / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptors, Somatotropin / genetics
  • Smad2 Protein / genetics


  • Genetic Markers
  • Glycoproteins
  • HMGA2 Protein
  • Receptors, Somatotropin
  • Smad2 Protein
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KC529658
  • GENBANK/KC529659