Addison’s Disease – Standard Poodle MHC Study

Poodle (Fall Leaves Background)

Addison’s disease (also referred to as primary hypoadrenocorticism) is an immune-mediated disease in dogs and humans in which the body attacks the outer layer of the adrenal glands. This leads to a deficiency in key hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) which regulate responses to stress and water/electrolyte balance. Dogs often present with waxing and waning gastrointestinal signs, a finicky appetite, or generalized lethargy. In some cases, dogs present to veterinarians in a shock state, which can be life-threatening if the signs of Addison’s disease are not recognized promptly. Therapy for Addison’s disease is available, but requires lifelong commitment by owners with hormone replacement therapy (typically a monthly injection and daily pills).

Dr. Steven Friedenberg and the Canine Genetics Laboratory at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine are working to identify whether any variants in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are associated with Addison’s disease in Standard Poodles. The MHC genes are the most diverse genes in animals, and because of their key role the immune system, they are associated with many different autoimmune diseases across species.

Enrollment Criteria

For this study, we are only currently enrolling Standard Poodles.

  • 5 years of age or older
  • Clinically healthy
  • No history of Addison’s disease, or any other autoimmune disease (for example, sebaceous adenitis, hypothyroidism, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, diabetes, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia)
  • Your willingness to donate a cheek swab from your dog for genetics research

How to Participate

White Standard PoodlePlease contact Anna Hedger ([email protected]) if you are interested in having your dog donate a cheek swab for this study. If your dog qualifies, we will send you three cheek swabs in the mail, as well as prepaid return shipping label. We will also send you instructions regarding how to collect the cheek swabs from your dog, as well as a study consent from.

When you send us the cheek swabs, please enclose a signed copy of the study consent form, as well as a copy of your dog’s pedigree if you have it (not required).


Funding for this research is graciously provided by the Poodle Club of America Foundation,as well as internal grants from the University of Minnesota.

Poodle Club of America Foundation Logo

About the investigator

Steve Friedenberg with Poodle

Dr. Friedenberg is a board-certified veterinary critical care specialist and a geneticist, and he is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. He earned his veterinary degree at Cornell University, completed his residency at The Ohio State University, and holds a PhD in genetics from North Carolina State University. He is passionate about studying canine Addison’s disease and other autoimmune diseases. He also is interested in developing novel bioinformatics and immunologic tools to study autoimmune diseases in dogs.

Contact Us

Canine Genetics Lab
University of Minnesota
1988 Fitch Ave
AS/VM 295
St. Paul, MN 55108

Please contact Anna Hedger ([email protected])  if you are interested in having your dog donate a cheek swab for this study.