Cand. med. vet. Cathrine Trangerud defended her thesis for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science on August 22, 2008, entitled "Growth patterns and metaphyseal irregularities in dogs: a study of 4 large breeds with emphasis on irregularities in the distal metaphysis of the radius and ulna in Newfoundland dogs".
The degree studied the relationship between the speed of growth of young dogs and the development of common skeletal diseases such as elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. A common conception is that rapidly-growing breeds have a greater risk of developing certain types of skeletal illness. However, no comprehensive research has been conducted in dogs in a domestic environment to establish this.
This thesis is the result of a study of some seven hundred dogs of four different breeds that lived at home with their owners. The dogs were followed closely from birth until the age of two years. Weight was measured, blood samples were collected, and the lower forelimbs were x-rayed several times.
Normal growth curves have now been established for these breeds for the first time. It turns out that the four breeds have different patterns of growth and that bitches grow more slowly than dogs (males).
Surprisingly, the study showed that the Labrador retriever grows faster than the Newfoundland, Irish wolfhound and the Leonberger, indicating that the largest breeds do not necessarily grow the fastest. The predominating view of the correlation between rapid growth and high incidence of common skeletal diseases therefore has to be revised.
Through her doctoral work, Trangerud discovered a new condition in the skeleton of the Newfoundland, which she found in nearly half of the young dogs. The condition resembles human bone dysplasia, but it is presently unclear just what clinical consequences the condition has for affected dogs.
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