Dogs

How dogs have been used in NZ

Dogs have been used in research, testing and teaching in a variety of ways - from non-harmful to cruel and invasive methods. The majority of dogs used for research, testing and teaching purposes are used for teaching and veterinary research. They are also used in environmental management, medical research, testing and more.

Dogs in NZ have been used to:

  • Test insecticides, pesticides and other toxins.
  • Try and model human disease and other human conditions. 
  • Measure the safety of food and ingredients. 
  • Test what pain relief is most effective. 
  • Research disease detection.
  • Research nutrition, how it affects biological functions and food preference.
  • Test the effectiveness of new, possible treatments for skin infections.
  • Research performance, nutrition and underlying causes of disease in working dogs. These animals are seen as a vital part of the animal agriculture sector (in 2009 there were 150,000 working dogs in NZ).
  • Research fitness and training regimes in police dogs. Police dogs have also been used to train dog handlers. 
  • Teach vet and vet nurse students basic concepts like animal handling and basic clinical/husbandry skills. Dog cadavers are also used to teach vet students and some dogs already scheduled to be euthanised by council pounds, are euthanised by vet and vet nurse students as part of their training.

Dogs are also considered to be used for research, testing or teaching when blood samples are taken during routine vet check are used for research purposes.  

Due to the high level of secrecy that this industry has, this is not a comprehensive list. For more details and referenced examples of how dogs are used, see the case studies section at the bottom of this page.

Research on dogs in the news

Pound dogs used in 1080 experiment

Ten unwanted dogs sourced from a Christchurch pound were subjected to six consecutive days of experimental poisoning before being killed. Read more here

Puppies brains injected in cruel test

A research experiment approved by an NZ University involved Huntaway puppies having repeated injections made into their brains. Read more here

Overview 

The figures in the table below have been provided by MPI. 

How dogs were used for science in NZ annually
Purpose 2016 2017 2018 2019
Basic biological research 0 128 420 111
Veterinary research 506 255 1,742 295
Teaching 674 469 431 496
Animal husbandry research 0 0 0 0
Medical research 98 12 1 0
Testing 19 24 16 35
Environmental management 7 0 12 0
Species conservation 0 0 0 0
Production of biological agents 0 0 0 0
Development of alternatives 0 0 0 0
Producing offspring with compromised welfare NA NA 0 0
Other 0 0 2 19
Total number used 1,304 888 2,624 956
Animals killed 95 20 9 2
Animals killed that were bred but not used  NA NA NA 0
Total number including those bred and killed but weren't used 1,304 888 2,624 956

 

Where dogs have been used

Dogs are used for research, testing and teaching purposes by private companies, universities, and polytechnics. Find out more.

Where dogs have been sourced from

Dogs used in science are sourced from breeding facilities, farms, city council pounds and other public sources. According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, public sources include public donations, animals obtained from a pound, a pet shop or other public sources. This includes companion animals who are used for the duration of the exercise (e.g. veterinary nurse training). Find out more.

Take action!

  • Demand that action be taken to prevent cruel experiments from happening in the future by signing our petition! Together we can push for stronger laws, better transparency and upgrading our science by Striking at the Source!
  • This is an ongoing, longterm campaign so if you feel strongly about demanding transparency and openness, please consider making a monthly donation
  • Learn about the many other ways that you can help end animal experimentation.

Further reading


Case Studies

Here you can view real-life examples of how dogs have been used for research, testing and teaching purposes in NZ. More publications will be added as we find them!

Keywords: Nutrition, body composition, working dogs. 

Aim: To examine the effects of nutrition on working dogs in a field situation. Other work had been done on sled dogs and greyhounds but not working farm dogs specifically. 

Overview: Dogs were fed either a premium diet or a standard "home-kill plus tux" diet. All dogs were fitted with a collar to measure activity (a triaxial accelerometry sensor attached to the collar). Each month dogs had their body weight and condition recorded and blood samples were taken every two months for a year. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

 

 

Read more..

Aim: To examine the effects of nutrition on working dogs in a field situation. Other work had been done on sled dogs and greyhounds but not working farm dogs specifically. 

Overview: Dogs were fed either a premium diet or a standard "home-kill plus tux" diet. All dogs were fitted with a collar to measure activity (a triaxial accelerometry sensor attached to the collar). Each month dogs had their body weight and condition recorded and blood samples were taken every two months for a year. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

 

 

Keywords: Pain relief. 

Aim: To examine the pharmacokinetics of morphine and its effect on postoperative pain in dogs undergoing ovariohysterectomy.

Overview: Six dogs underwent routine surgery (to be spayed) at a vet clinic and blood samples were taken.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To examine the pharmacokinetics of morphine and its effect on postoperative pain in dogs undergoing ovariohysterectomy.

Overview: Six dogs underwent routine surgery (to be spayed) at a vet clinic and blood samples were taken.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Food preference, fasting.

Aim: To examine if a previous studies findings can be replicated over a longer period of time (that dogs prefer fat and protein over carbs) and also to examine the microflora in the bowl of dogs when the type of macronutrient they eat changes. 

Overview: 15 dogs were exposed to different diets (either high fat, high carb or high protein) over 28 days. Faecal samples were taken and blood samples were taken from dogs that had been fasted (18 hours with no food) in order to determine a metabolomic profile. Dogs were offered 500% of their daily required food for the first 10 days, then 400% for the next 10 days and then 300% for the last 8 days. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To examine if a previous studies findings can be replicated over a longer period of time (that dogs prefer fat and protein over carbs) and also to examine the microflora in the bowl of dogs when the type of macronutrient they eat changes. 

Overview: 15 dogs were exposed to different diets (either high fat, high carb or high protein) over 28 days. Faecal samples were taken and blood samples were taken from dogs that had been fasted (18 hours with no food) in order to determine a metabolomic profile. Dogs were offered 500% of their daily required food for the first 10 days, then 400% for the next 10 days and then 300% for the last 8 days. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Fasting. 

Aim: To examine if fasting in between meals is beneficial for healthy dogs so that the findings can be used to help the recovery of dogs. 

Overview: Dogs were fed different types of food (i.e. a high carb diet or a high-fat, low carb diet) at different time intervals (i.e. 48 hours between meals) and blood samples were taken.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

 

Read more..

Aim: To examine if fasting in between meals is beneficial for healthy dogs so that the findings can be used to help the recovery of dogs. 

Overview: Dogs were fed different types of food (i.e. a high carb diet or a high-fat, low carb diet) at different time intervals (i.e. 48 hours between meals) and blood samples were taken.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

 

Keywords: Police dogs, army dogs, training. 

Aim: To teach police dog and army dog handlers emergency care for dogs injured during operations. 

Overview: Dog handlers use mannequins to train on and they also practise the placement of an IV catheter in live, slightly sedated dogs.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2017

 

Read more..

Aim: To teach police dog and army dog handlers emergency care for dogs injured during operations. 

Overview: Dog handlers use mannequins to train on and they also practise the placement of an IV catheter in live, slightly sedated dogs.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2017

 

Keywords: Thermal pain sensitivity. 

Aim: To try and compare the thermal pain thresholds of dogs from three breeds used in farming and sports (Harrier Hounds, Greyhounds and New Zealand Huntaways). 

Overview: One day a week for 4 weeks, unrestrained dogs were tested six times. The test involved a device being attached to the thoracic limb of dogs that heats up. The time taken for the dogs to show a behavioural response to the heated device was recorded.  

Date published: 2018

Read more..

Aim: To try and compare the thermal pain thresholds of dogs from three breeds used in farming and sports (Harrier Hounds, Greyhounds and New Zealand Huntaways). 

Overview: One day a week for 4 weeks, unrestrained dogs were tested six times. The test involved a device being attached to the thoracic limb of dogs that heats up. The time taken for the dogs to show a behavioural response to the heated device was recorded.  

Date published: 2018

Keywords: Pain relief, castration. 

Aim: To compare the effects of pre-operatively administered tramadol with those of morphine on electroencephalographic responses to surgery and post-operative pain in dogs undergoing castration.

Overview: Dogs undergoing castration were treated with different pain relief and then their pain response was measured.

Date published: 2013 

Read more..

Aim: To compare the effects of pre-operatively administered tramadol with those of morphine on electroencephalographic responses to surgery and post-operative pain in dogs undergoing castration.

Overview: Dogs undergoing castration were treated with different pain relief and then their pain response was measured.

Date published: 2013 

Keywords: Pound dogs, euthanasia, vet nurse training. 

Aim: This was a standard part of the course for teaching and training vet nurse students.

Overview: Students took part in multiple teaching exercises including gradually deepened the anaesthesia of pound dogs (while a qualified teacher supervised) to practice euthanasia.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2015

Read more..

Aim: This was a standard part of the course for teaching and training vet nurse students.

Overview: Students took part in multiple teaching exercises including gradually deepened the anaesthesia of pound dogs (while a qualified teacher supervised) to practice euthanasia.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2015

READ MORE