Insulin treatment, blood transfusions, intravenous medication and anesthesiology are some of the major medical advances made possible by using dogs in laboratory research.
Because their physiology is similar to humans - small stomach, short digestive tract and similar organ structures - dogs of many breeds are invaluable research partners. Today, they are commonly used in radiation studies, experimental surgery and physiological studies.
For long-term experimentation, the small, docile Beagle is the most popular in laboratories. Beagles adapt well to cage life and are uniform in size, temper and response. They require small amounts of foods, bark little and are good breeders.
The Greyhound is a common choice for surgical experimentation because of its large, well-defined muscles and nerves and large chest cavity. Two other breeds often used in lab research are the Dalmation, for its human-like excretory functions, and the German Shepherd, for its good bone and joint configurations.
The dogs should be registered, or at least purebred, regardless of the breed chosen.
Research dogs generally come from breeding farms, welfare kennels and commercial dealers. Usually "pound dogs" are used only for short-term acute testing. Using purebred dogs for long-term testing allows the researcher to take advantage of their uniform anatomy and physiology to get more consistent and reliable results.
Laboratory dogs are more contented if they can share a cage with a companion. When a dog has to be separated from canine companionship, it should get extra attention from its handler. An ideal cage has self-operating doors that lead to an exercise runway. If this isn’t possible, the dogs should be exercised twice a day in a communal runway, or outdoors on a leash.
Every new arrival to the lab should be quarantined for a suitable time, examined by a veterinarian, bathes and thoroughly dried and dusted with insect powder if necessary. New dogs will naturally be fearful of the surroundings. The fear can be overcome if you handle the animal in a calm, gentle manner.
As far back as the 17th century, researchers have recognized the many advantaged of using dogs in the laboratory.