Dwarfism in Tibetan Terrier dogs with an LHX3 mutation

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2021 Jul;33(4):740-743. doi: 10.1177/10406387211007526. Epub 2021 Apr 23.


Canine pituitary dwarfism in German Shepherd and related dog breeds has been reported to be associated with a 7-bp deletion mutation in intron 5 of the LHX3 gene. This mutation is transmitted as an autosomal recessive trait that results in dwarf dogs with significantly smaller stature and abnormal haircoat, and potentially early death. Phenotypically, affected adult dogs are proportionally dwarfs. These dwarfs also have a soft, woolly puppy coat that fails to transition into the typical adult hair coat, and marked hair loss occurs in some dogs. We report a similar manifestation of dwarfism in Tibetan Terriers with the same LHX3 mutation. Dwarf Tibetan Terrier puppies were born physically normal but failed to gain weight or to grow at the same rate as their normal littermates. The 7-bp deletion mutation of the LHX3 gene was identified in both alleles of 3 Tibetan Terrier dwarfs from 3 litters, which were biologically related. All parents of these dogs are carriers, confirming transmission of dwarfism in an autosomal recessive manner. Recognition and detection of this mutation will help in guiding future breeding plans to eventually eliminate this trait from Tibetan Terriers.

Keywords: LHX3 mutation; Tibetan Terriers; dwarfism.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dogs
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / genetics
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / veterinary*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Tibet
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • Lhx3 protein
  • Transcription Factors