Genetic Variant Causing Nonsyndromic Hearing Loss in Dogs Identified for First Time in Study of More Than 800,000 Dogs

Researchers discover rare novel genetic defect causing hearing loss in Rottweilers providing a new large animal model for human hearing disorders

VANCOUVER, Wash.--()--Wisdom Health Genetics, the world leader in pet genetics and maker of the WISDOM PANEL™ dog DNA test, announced today the publication in Human Genetics of a landmark study conducted in partnership with the University of Helsinki.

The study—Missense variant in LOXHD1 is associated with canine nonsyndromic hearing loss—describes the first identified genetic variant for canine nonsyndromic hearing loss, a common deficiency in humans and dogs.

Researchers utilized homozygosity mapping and genome sequencing to identify a rare variant in LOXHD1, a gene associated with nonsyndromic hearing loss in both humans and mice.

The finding was confirmed by a screening of more than 800,000 dogs, which found the LOXHD1 variant to be the most likely cause of hearing loss in some identified purebred Rottweilers and mixed-breed dogs, the majority of which have Rottweiler ancestry.

“Congenital and adult-onset hearing loss conditions have been reported in dogs across many breeds, but their genetic background still remains mostly uncharacterized,” said Jonas Donner, Ph.D., Discovery Manager at Wisdom Health Genetics. “In addition to becoming one of the largest published canine genotyping efforts to date, this study is an important step toward a deeper understanding of the molecular genetics behind hearing loss and the population management of LOXHD1-related hearing loss through genetic testing.”

Found in the Rottweiler breed, nonsyndromic hearing loss is both clinically and genetically similar to LOXHD1-related hearing disorders in humans. Thus, this discovery provides a new large animal model for hearing loss.

Nonsyndromic hearing loss has been linked to more than one hundred genetic variants to date. However, future research is needed to understand the biology of this type of hearing loss and the related genes and variants.

"We are grateful to the more than 1000 Banfield™ Pet Hospital clinicians who diligently and consistently recorded their observations in medical records during 2019-2021—without that collective effort this work would not have been possible,” said Rebecca Chodroff Foran, Ph.D., R&D Director at Wisdom Health Genetics. “This study in particular shows the value of large-scale sampling efforts integrating clinical data and genotyping: not only does it elucidate the underlying genetics of canine disease, it also sets the groundwork for the development of a targeted genetic test to manage LOXHD1-related hearing disorders in the canine population.”

This study demonstrates the value of genetic research in helping pet parents worldwide to provide the best care to their pets and furthers Kinship Partners’ commitment to setting ever-higher standards in pet care. The discovery of this specific genetic variant will allow research teams to develop a targeted genetic test to manage nonsyndromic hearing loss, empowering pet parents to make better, more educated health decisions for their pet.

About the nonsyndromic hearing loss study:

  • Researchers from University of Helsinki and Wisdom Health Genetics conducted a study of nonsyndromic hearing loss, discovering a rare genetic variant in LOXHD1 associated with an autosomal recessive congenital nonsyndromic hearing loss in Rottweilers—the first of its kind related to nonsyndromic hearing loss.
  • Though the exact mechanism by which the LOXHD1 variant causes hearing loss remains unknown, the gene is essential for cochlear hair cell function and is also associated with nonsyndromic hearing loss in humans and mice.
  • The researchers made this discovery using a combination of homozygosity mapping and genome sequencing, and obtained confirmation for its relevance through screening more than 800,000 dogs from DNA samples obtained at Banfield™ Pet Hospitals. The rare LOXHD1 variant was found in both purebred Rottweilers and mixed-breed dogs with Rottweiler ancestry at low allele frequencies.
  • The characterized nonsyndromic form of hearing loss in dogs is clinically and genetically similar to the condition in humans, and therefore, provides a large animal model for its study. Likewise, Rottweilers will benefit from the development of a genetic test to manage this LOXHD1-related hearing disorder in the population.

About Wisdom Health Genetics

The mission of the Wisdom Health business, a division of Kinship Partners, Inc, is to strengthen the bond between pets and their people through world-leading insights powered by DNA. Wisdom Panel™ dog DNA tests—backed by WISDOM HEALTH™ scientific research—can help pet parents plan better, care smarter, and love longer. For more than a decade, Wisdom Health™ scientific research has contributed to state-of-the-art genetic tests for companion animals, revolutionizing personalized pet care. By unlocking the secrets of their dog or cat's DNA, pet parents and veterinarians can work together to tailor wellness programs that fit the one-of-a-kind needs of their pets. More than 7,000 veterinarians worldwide recommend and offer Wisdom Panel™ products. For more information, visit, and follow the Wisdom Panel™ brand on Facebook and Instagram.

About Kinship Partners, Inc

Kinship is here to help everyone pet parent like a pro. Why? Because our pets make us better humans, and we owe them the best possible care. As allies to pet parents learning on the job, we use our data, products, and services to help people be the best pet parents they can be. We unite changemakers in pet care to break down barriers, open new doors, share insights, and advance our collective knowledge. By reimagining the pet parenting experience and upping people’s confidence, we’re helping the world find better ways to care.

Our coalition includes our world-leading Wisdom Panel™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the award-winning WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker and health monitor, Pet Insight Project, our ground-breaking science stream that uses AI to turn billions of data points into actionable insights, and partnerships like our Leap Venture Studio accelerator that supports innovators and start-ups, to bring new solutions to pet parents. Kinship is a division of Mars Petcare. Learn more at

About Mars Petcare

Part of Mars, Incorporated—a family-owned business with more than a century of history-making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love—the 85,000 Associates across 50+ countries in Mars Petcare are dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. With 85 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of the world’s pets—including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, IAMS™, and EUKANUBA™, as well as the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also a leading veterinary health provider through an international network of over 2,000 pet hospitals and diagnostic services including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, VCA™, Linnaeus, AniCura, and Antech. We’re also active in innovation and technology for pets, with Wisdom Panel™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the Whistle™ GPS dog tracker, LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator, and COMPANION FUND programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry. As a family business guided by our principles, we are privileged with the flexibility to fight for what we believe in—and we choose to fight for our purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.


Kimberly LeDuc


Kimberly LeDuc