Gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE) in Irish setter dogs has been proposed as an animal model for human celiac disease (CD), in which the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles HLA DQA1*0501 and DQB1*0201 play an important role. To investigate whether an orthologous MHC class II region is involved in canine GSE, we undertook a linkage study in two large families of gluten sensitive Irish setter dogs. A total of 44 dogs in these pedigrees were genotyped for DQA1, DQB1 and C.2202 alleles, along with 30 unrelated healthy Irish setters. No genetic linkage between the DQ or C.2002 loci and GSE was detected. In contrast to CD, susceptibility to canine GSE does not appear to be determined by variation within the MHC class II gene cluster. Therefore, canine GSE may not be an appropriate model for CD, but nevertheless remains an important disease for advancing knowledge of pathological processes in the intestine.