Solving the riddle of human hereditary disease… by looking in dogs

Texas is a very energetic, smart and playful German shepherd dog. “He always tries his best to please me,” said his owner Helene Bäckman. But when Texas was six months old, Helene noticed that he started to behave unusually. He started to jump and bite the air repeatedly.

“It´s like he sees something. He jumps and when he´s biting, he bites hard,” she said. “You can hear his teeth against each other. He can do this for hours and he gets more and more stressed when he´s doing it. He never rests between jumps.”

The reason for Texas’s unusual behaviour? Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

It turns out that man’s best friend is actually one of the best naturally occurring models of human disease – I wrote a feature for the BBC News website exploring the reasons why. Hope you enjoy!

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