BACKGROUND: The individual, together with its environment, has been reported as the main force driving composition and structure of skin microbiota in healthy dogs. Therefore, one of the major concerns when analyzing canine skin microbiota is the likely influence of the environment. Despite the dense fur covering, certain skin diseases exhibit differential prevalence among skin sites, dog breeds, and individuals.RESULTS: We have characterized the normal variability of dog skin microbiota in a well-controlled cohort of a large number of Golden-Labrador Retriever crossed dogs (N = 35) with similar ages, related genetic background, and a shared environment. We found that the individual drives the skin microbiota composition and structure followed by the skin site. The main bacterial classes inhabiting dog skin in this cohort are Gammaproteobacteria and Bacilli. We also detected bacteria associated to the environment on different dog skin sites that could be reflecting the different degrees of exposure of each skin site and each dog. Network analyses elucidated bacterial interactions within and between skin sites, especially in the chin, abdomen, axilla, and perianal region, with the highly shared interactions probably representing an anatomical, behavioral, or environmental component. When analyzing each skin site independently to assess host-specific factors, we found that temporality (season of birth and time spent in the kennel) affected all the skin sites and specially the inner pinna. The most abundant taxon driving this difference was Sphingomonas. We also found taxonomic differences among male and female dogs on the abdomen, axilla, and back.CONCLUSIONS: We observed a large inter-individual variability and differences among skin sites. Host-specific variables, such as temporality or sex, were also shaping skin microbiota of healthy dogs, even in an environmental homogenous cohort.
- Skin site