Introducing X-Thousand Dogs

The largest study of its kind, aimed at better understanding how dogs age—and how we might help them live longer, healthier lives

Yesterday we launched X-Thousand Dogs, the largest dog epigenetics study in the world, powered by the participation of science-minded dog lovers. And thanks to the overwhelming response, the DNA sampling portion of the study is already fully subscribed.

There’s still time to play an important role, however, by joining the interactive community science part of our study. Enroll today and we’ll ask you to complete a series of surveys, photo challenges and other activities that tell us more about your dog’s general health, environment, and lifestyle. The study is open to all dog owners in the U.S. and the information you contribute about your dog will support research intended to give dogs longer, healthier years.

Meet some of the participants from our beta launch in November: 

A new way of looking at DNA

Traditional genetic tests look only at the sequence of DNA. In the X-Thousand Dogs study, we’ll be assessing the DNA sequence as well as epigenetics, a newer field dedicated to understanding the processes that turn certain genes on and off. Recent research suggests epigenetic changes can have significant impacts on canine health. 

Quantifying these epigenetic changes will help us identify how certain factors like age, activity, environmental stressors, and disease might affect a dog’s overall health and lifespan. This may allow us to predict future health outcomes and, because epigenetic changes are dynamic and reversible, potentially provide pet parents with health interventions they can make with their dogs.

Curious to learn more? Explore our Epigenetics primer.

What do we hope to learn?

Loyal is developing drugs intended to extend dog lifespan and healthspan. To target and treat the aging process itself, we first need to understand how dogs age. What drives the aging process? Does it progress linearly, or accelerate after certain milestones? What differs biologically between two dogs of the same age that are not equally healthy? 

Aging is a highly variable process, so we need participants’ help collecting as much data as possible. The more survey responses, photo submissions, and other information we receive, the more accurately we can model variability across all dogs.

XTD is a research study, so we can’t fully predict what we may find in the data, but we’re excited to share the scientific journey with our study participants.

How is this relevant to developing human aging drugs?

In addition to being our best friends, dogs are an excellent model of human aging. This is in part because of our unique relationship with dogs—they live in our houses, eat when we eat, and exercise when we do (or don’t), so they’re exposed to the same environmental factors we are. They also are genetically closely related to us and broadly manifest disease in the same way.

This means that by understanding how dogs age, we can learn about how we age, too.

How to participate

Enroll your dog from the X-Thousand Dogs page. We’ll email soon with your first survey questions and challenges.

And please check back here regularly. We’ll be sharing more about the X-Thousand Dogs Study—and much more—in the months to come.