Canine Health Research Fund

Kuva: Jukka Pätynen /

Canine health is relevant to both dogs and humans

One in four homes has a dog, and being the faithful companions that they are, dogs also serve in many important service duties in society. While canine health research directly improves dog welfare, it is also important for human health. Canine diseases are largely the same ones that plague people, and research results for one species can often be applied to another.

Clinical studies seek the causes for various diseases while developing new or better methods of diagnosis and treatment. The information gleaned from the research also helps to prevent illnesses.

Genetic research studies the connections between genes and hereditary diseases among dogs. A genetic discovery can lead to a genetic test being developed for a disease, which can prevent the breeding of more sick dogs.

Every dog lover can help

The research requires sufficient funding. We ask all dog lovers to help us promote the health of our pets, to track the genes that cause illness and to find the best treatments.

A donation from every dog lover, however big or small, will have a major impact on promoting research focused on canine health and welfare. With the Canine Health Research Fund, even small donations can turn into major support for canine research.

The Canine Health Research Fund supports the development of canine health care by granting funding for the University of Helsinki’s canine research projects.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Kennel Club established the fund for canine health research in 2009. The purpose of this fund is to promote research focused on dog health, especially clinical and genetic research, conducted at the University of Helsinki or in cooperation with the University. The University of Helsinki manages the fund in a centralised manner and pays the fund a fixed annual return of 5%. The use of the funds is determined by an administrative committee, which features representatives from both the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Kennel Club.


University of Helsinki has a money collection permit (RA/2020/737), permitted by the National Police Board on 18 June 2020. The permit covers all of Finland, with the exception of Åland. The funds will support the tasks given in §2 in the Universities Act (558/2009). University of Helsinki is responsible for the fundraising.

Current research news

  • Physical therapist, MSc Anna Boström examines in her doctoral dissertation the potential impacts of intervertebral disc protrusion on the structure of the musculature of the back. Her grant from the Canine Health Research Fund was used to cover the costs of magnetic imaging. The goal of the imaging is to determine the degree of the disc disorder as well as the amount of fat in the muscles.
  • Docent Minna Rajamäki’s research team received a grant which was used to hire a postdoctoral researcher. The team is mapping the overall health of English bulldogs.
  • Professor Hannes Lohi’s team has used grant funding to study the genes underlying ocular diseases in dogs as well as to analyse the blood count of shy or hyperactive dogs.
  • Doctoral student Maria Kaukonen is studying hereditary cataracts among Belgian shepherds. Hereditary cataracts are the most common reason for weakened eyesight among purebred dogs. The illness has been found in more than a hundred breeds of dogs, but previously only a single gene has been associated with the disease. Kaukonen is a member of Professor Hanne Lohi’s research group on canine genetics, which is trying to find the genetic mutations that cause hereditary diseases among dogs. One of the research projects studies the genetic background of cataracts among the Belgian shepherd breed (variants Tervueren and Groenedael). The goal of the research is to locate the genetic mutation underlying the disease, so that a genetic test could be developed to help with diagnostics and support healthy breeding.
    The research team has compiled an extensive research cohort examined by veterinary ophthalmologists including Belgian shepherds (of the Tervueren and Groenendael variants) from both Finland and elsewhere. Of the dogs in the cohort, 44 have been diagnosed with posterior polar cataracts in both eyes, and 104 dogs are control subjects that were found to be healthy at the age of seven or more. The research group has been able to locate the cataract genes in two chromosomes, and potential mutations have been sought in these chromosomal regions. The group has identified approximately 50 genetic mutations, and their role in the cataracts among the breed are currently being analysed in an ongoing study.
  • Professor Thomas Spillmann’s group researching illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract has found that the risk of carcinoma in the stomach is elevated among Belgian shepherds of the Tervueren variant. Their ongoing study aims to determine whether early stages of the cancer could be found through endoscopy among dogs who have symptoms suggesting a gastric disorder, such as vomiting. The study can help researchers understand the way cancer spreads, and an early diagnosis before the onset of severe symptoms is in the dog’s benefit.
  • Latest grants

Read more about our research projects:

More information: Fundraising, 029 41 21650 tai