Genes have been identified that predispose bull and boxer dog breeds to brain cancer and at least one may also influence the disease in humans.

Flat-faced “brachycephalic” dog breeds, such as bulldogs and boxers, are known to be especially vulnerable to glioma, a severe form of brain cancer.

Scientists investigated genetic links to canine glioma by screening the DNA of 25 dog breeds, including 141 healthy dogs and 39 animals with brain tumours.

bulldogs
(Rui Vieira/PA)

They pinpointed three genes highly associated with glioma risk, known as CAMKK2, P2RX7 and DENR.

There was evidence that the same region of the genetic code may be important for glioma susceptibility and the selection of brachycephalic breed traits.

One of the genes, CAMKK2, was found to be less active in gliomas than in normal brain tissue in both dogs and humans.

microscope
(David Davies/PA)

Study author Professor Karin Nilsson, from Uppsala University in Sweden, said: “These results indicate that further investigations of the role of these three genes in glioma development would be of interest, with potential benefit to both dog and human.”

The research is reported in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics.