Diverse bacterial communities exist on canine skin and are impacted by cohabitation and time

Sheila Torres, Jonathan B. Clayton, Jessica L. Danzeisen, Tonya Ward, Hu Huang, Dan Knights, Timothy J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


It has previously been shown that domestic dogs and their household owners share bacterial populations, and that sharing of bacteria between humans is facilitated through the presence of dogs in the household. However, less is known regarding the bacterial communities of dogs, how these communities vary by location and over time, and how cohabitation of dogs themselves influences their bacterial community. Furthermore, the effects of factors such as breed, hair coat length, sex, shedding, and age on the canine skin microbiome is unknown. This study sampled the skin bacterial communities of 40 dogs belonging to 20 households longitudinally across three seasons (spring, summer, and winter). Significant differences in bacterial community structure between samples were identified when stratified by season, but not by dog sex, age, breed, hair type, or skin site. Cohabitating dogs were more likely to share bacteria of the skin than non-cohabitating dogs. Similar to human bacterial microbiomes, dogs' microbiomes were more similar to their own microbiomes over time than to microbiomes of other individuals. Dogs sampled during the same season were also more similar to each other than to dogs from different seasons, irrespective of household. However, there were very few core operational taxonomic units (OTUs) identified across all dogs sampled. Taxonomic classification revealed Propionibacterium acnes and Haemophilus sp. as key members of the dog skin bacterial community, along with Corynebacterium sp. and Staphylococcus epidermidis. This study shows that the skin bacterial community structure of dogs is highly individualized, but can be shared among dogs through cohabitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3075
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial community
  • Canine
  • Co-habitation
  • Longitudinal
  • Microbiome
  • Skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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