Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Dr. Earnest Bailey

Second Advisor

Dr. Teri Lear


Dwarfism is considered one of the most recognized congenital defects of animals and humans and can be hereditary or sporadic in cause and expression. There are two general morphologic categories within this vastly diverse disease. These categories are disproportionate and proportionate dwarfism and within each of these there are numerous phenotypes which have been extensively described in humans, and to a lesser extent in dogs, cattle, mice, chickens, and other domestic species. Ponies and Miniature horses largely differ from full size horses only by their stature. Ponies are often defined as those whose height is not greater than 14.2 hands; however the maximum height for Miniature horses is constitutionally defined as 8.2 hands. Dwarfism is not considered a desirable genetic trait for Miniature horses. A majority of these conformationally inferior horses showed consistent physical abnormalities typical of disproportionate dwarfisms as seen in other mammal species. A whole genome scan with the Illumina Equine SNP50 chip clearly implicated a region on ECA1 as being associated with dwarfism of horses. The region implicated on the horse chromosome 1 (Equus Caballus; ECA1) contained a candidate gene for dwarfism, aggrecan (ACAN). Mutations were found in Exons 2, 6, 11 and 15 with each mutation associated with a distinct type of dwarfism. These mutations are independently transmitted throughout the population. Absence of normal homozygotes for these mutations and absence of normal horses which were heterozygous for these mutations indicated that these alleles caused dwarfism in those genotypes. These genotypes did not explain all observed dwarves in this population.