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What is the wild type blood type?

Do Animals Have Different Blood Types Too?

In Kingsford, Australia in 2006, a Rottweiler named Zap donated blood to a German shepherd named Rocky. Veterinarians removed two bullets from Rocky after the dog was shot while saving its owner from three burglars. FairFax Media/Getty Images

We tend to think about our blood type when we give blood, get a blood transfusion, or when we decide to go on a fad diet that requires us to eat specific foods based on the proteins we have riding around on our red blood cells. So, depending on your personal habits, your consideration of blood types — or blood groups, as scientists refer to them — might range from rarely ever or pretty much all the time.

But how much do animals think about their blood types? Presumably never, given what we know about animal cognition. But we humans do think about our animals, because sometimes animals receive blood transfusions too, and we want to make sure the blood we’re giving a ferret or dog or parakeet doesn’t cause a blood incompatibility reaction. That’s a negative reaction causing the recipient’s immune system to attack foreign blood, producing antibodies against the red blood cell proteins, or antigens, in the donated blood. Although all animals have blood groups, every species has a different system, and we know the most about the systems of domesticated mammals.

The human blood group system is based on three different antigens: A, B, and O. The possible blood types we could have are A, B, AB and O, and each one of these can be either Rh positive or negative. Type O negative blood is generally considered to be universally accepted by any other blood type, and type AB positive can receive any other type.

Veterinarians extract blood from a donor dog at the Bombay Veterinary College, Parel, in Mumbai, India in 2017, aiming to increase the supply of donor dog blood in the institute’s blood bank.

Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Dogs, for their part, have more than eight different antigens that can attach to their red blood cells, most of them labeled Dog Erythrocyte Antigen (DEA 1.1, 1.2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7). Often individuals within a specific breed of dog will have the same blood type — for instance, 60 percent of greyhounds fall into the DEA 1.1 negative (the universal dog donor) blood group. But new canine blood groups are still being detected — the recently discovered Dal blood group, for example, is only found in Dalmatians.

Cats, on the other hand, have only two possible antigens — A and B, although they aren’t the same A and B antigens found on human blood. There is no universal donor or recipient feline blood groups, but the vast majority (around 90 percent) of domestic cats have type A blood, while more exotic purebreds often type B. AB is also possible, but very rare.

Like dogs, horse blood groups are loosely organized along breed lines, but there are 30 different groups, that represent combinations of 8 different antigens (A, C, D, K, P, Q and U are internationally recognized, while T is still being researched.) Cows are tricky because there are 11 major blood groups (A, B, C, F, J, L, M, R, S, T and Z), but the B group includes over 60 different antigens, making blood matches for transfusions tough.

Keep all this in mind next time you need to give some furry companion a blood transfusion – we animals have much in common, but there’s still much that separates us.

Dr. W. A. Jaquiss, known as «The Wild Animal Surgeon of Hollywood,» conducts a blood transfusion on Pal, a 2-year-old African lion (Panthera leo), in 1935. The procedure was successfully performed after numerous tests on the blood of various lions.

Bettman/Getty Images
Now That’s Interesting

The reason for different blood groups in animals isn’t precisely known. In humans, though, it’s thought to have to do with evolutionary selection regarding disease immunity, but we do know that we inherit our blood antigens from our parents.

The Crazy Evolution of a Universal Blood Type

Scientists now think malaria may have played a role in the evolution of Type-O blood. Dr. Christine Cserti-Gazdewich, a hematologist at the University of Toronto, considers an emerging theory of universal blood.


So we have these morning meetings where everybody comes in and pitches stories. And last week, our video producer, Win, he came in to the meeting with a story he found about a girl in Australia whose blood type changed after a liver transplant. So it’s sort of like, okay, that sounds really cool. Let’s look into it. Which, of course, during the research for it, led to a basic question where everybody sort of sheepishly looked up and said, um, what is a blood type, really, actually?


We’re journalists, not scientists.

STEWART: You have your A, your B, your O, your AB. But do you know why this blood type is assigned a certain letter?

STEWART: So as we were asking our friendly hematologist all about this, we stumbled on to another story entirely. So, Win, the lady who changed blood types — not so big news, apparently. But a blood type as a malaria reducer and as the result of malaria, that’s a little bit bigger. But we do want to start with the basics. Dr. Christine Cserti-Gazdewich is a hematologist in Toronto.

Hi. Good morning, doctor.

Dr. CHRISTINE CSERTI-GAZDEWICH (Hematologist, University of Toronto): Good morning.

STEWART: So can you give us a brief blood lesson? Blood types, I know, discovered a little over 100 years ago. But how is blood type determined?

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: So blood type is a fascinating thing. It’s actually not just a human thing. The ABO system arose about (unintelligible) ago. And most anciently humans or pre-humans — humanoids — began as group As. A is the most ancient — so-called wild type. That’s what we call genes, the way they start before they begin to mutate and turn into things that exhibit selective survival advantages.

So about five million years ago, this mutation pops up called group O. And around that time, and subsequently, group B developed. Group O is actually a non-expression mutation. So A, B and O relate to what kinds of sugars you decorate your cells and secrete into your plasma and other secretions. You’re A sugar is something with a messy name called GalNAc of N-acetylgalactosamine. B is galactose. And it turns out that group O is actually a non-sugar or sugar-free status cell.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: It’s not dusted or lightly coated in anything.


(Soundbite of laughter)

GALLIANO: It’s the Splenda of blood.

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: Yeah. And it’s a bit intriguing too that since 1997, about four books have been published on eating right for your type. You know, the blood group system has been in vogue. Many people have had theories for centuries, or at least since Landsteiner discovered the blood group — the ABO blood group system in 1900.

You know, as to why ABO variations exist and whether or not we should heed at them at all, it’s kind of like the dream question of Freud. And…

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Well, doctor, I’ve watched enough «ER» and «Grey’s Anatomy» to know that you can’t mix blood types. Describe what happens to us when you mix A with B.

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: So, you know, intriguingly, the ABO blood system, which we had no idea what its original function is, is the one thing that everyone in medicine respects. It’s the one blood system that you can’t transfuse incompatibly within. And that would be at the peril of killing a patient, even as small as 50 mils — a few bottles of nail polish worth of blood can kill a person.


Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: So ABO mistransfusions are a key cause of transfusion-related deaths. And it’s something that we worry tremendously about. And that’s — the crux of that is basically because beyond the age of six months, infancy and onwards, we all develop antibodies that naturally recognize the blood type that we’re not.

So people who are group O — lacking A or B sugars — make anti-A and anti-B. They’re primed already to destroy type A or B or AB blood. People who are type B are naturally primed to destroy type A, and vice versa. The only people who are not primed to destroy any kind of blood are the people who are known as group AB — the double hits for the sugar. And that’s only about four percent of the population. They’re the so-called universal recipients. But they are terrible blood donors, as far as red cells go because they’re basically, you know, unappealing to anyone with — who is non-AB.

GALLIANO: That’s what I say about them all the time. They take and they take and they take.

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: That’s right. There are always some parasites in this world and other people who are natural martyrs and givers.

STEWART: But the O gives and gives and gives.


STEWART: It’s the universal donor. So there’s a ying and yang here. And the O type is the subject of this study. You’ve published this hypothesis, and you’re studying to see if it’s right. The O type, as a mutant, we’ll say, of the A, without the sugars on the surface, it survived because of this mutation, and it’s said to have an advantage in some way.

Tell us about the advantage you’ve been studying.

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: Yeah. It appears there are lines of evidence in support of this hypothesis. And we’re going to be putting this to the test in Uganda. There’s a clinical trial that we’ve started back in October. And what we’re interested in is whether or not the ABO blood group system indeed influences a child’s chance of living or dying with malaria.

The things that are really going to change the gene distribution, you know, the prevalence of certain blood types in populations, are the things that are going to make or break you or kill you before you hit the age of reproduction. And if so, if group O is indeed something that conveys a survival advantage, people who are non-O, we would expect to be rooted out and die in droves from something that we would hypothesize to be the selection pressure at stake. And for us, that hypothesis is malaria.

We’re not the first people to come up with this idea. About 24 papers have been published on this subject. And so far, six of them — the ones most rigorously conducted and just two published in the fall — are indicating that it looks like group Os probably have advantage. But the thing is that not a single one of these studies have addressed the mortality question. They’ve looked at the sickness spectrum, you know, who gets sicker and who seems to only suffer mild disease. And that question, so far, is starting to settle.

Preceding that, there were a lot of animal-based and laboratory-based, so-called in-vitro studies, looking at the impact of these sugars on red cells and how malaria behaves in the test tube.

STEWART: So wait, let me stop for one second. So because the O is sugarless, as we’ve been calling it…


STEWART: …therefore, it is impervious than malaria?

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: So that’s a great question. It’s actually not a matter as permeability or invadeability. What this appears to be a matter of is how malaria changes your red cells when it infects you. Malaria has this incredible ability to give you something far worse than acne. Malaria makes red cells erupt with these knobs — these so-called sticky knobs. The red cells actually look rumpled and pimply if you take a gander at them through the microscope. And these pimpled out, knob-riddled red cells acquire this ability to stick to blood vessels. Malaria appears to have evolved in this very clever fashion so that it evades immune clearance in the spleen. The spleen is like a giant lymph node, an immune clearance organ in the body. And a lot of the most ancient parasitemias, the parasitic diseases that have infected humans had their first point of clearance in the spleen. And so if a parasite can invade a cell and use a host’s own living cells, their own living tanks as…

STEWART: Their own blood as a way to deliver it…


STEWART: …that’s the issue.

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: Exactly. It’s sort of like camouflage tanks. And they actually seek and sequester away in the vasculature, everywhere…


STEWART: …it so — it’s interesting, but we’ve run out of time.

Dr. Cserti-Gazdewich, thank you so much for explaining it off to us here on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

Dr. CSERTI-GAZDEWICH: Thank you very much.

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Blood type (non-human)

Animal erythrocytes have cell surface antigens that undergo polymorphism and give rise to blood types. Antigens from the human ABO blood group system are also found in apes and Old World monkeys, and the types trace back to the origin of humanoids. [1] Other animal blood sometimes agglutinates (to varying levels of intensity) with human blood group reagents, but the structure of the blood group antigens in animals is not always identical to those typically found in humans. The classification of most animal blood groups therefore uses different blood typing systems to those used for classification of human blood.

Simian blood groups [ edit ]

Two categories of blood groups, human-type and simian-type, have been found in apes and monkeys, and they can be tested by methods established for grouping human blood. Data is available on blood groups of common chimpanzees, baboons, and macaques.

Rh blood group [ edit ]

Main article: Rh blood group system

The Rh system is named after the rhesus monkey, following experiments by Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener, which showed that rabbits, when immunised with rhesus monkey red cells, produce an antibody that also agglutinates the red blood cells of many humans.

Chimpanzee and Old World monkey blood group systems [ edit ]

Two complex chimpanzee blood group systems, V-A-B-D and R-C-E-F systems, proved to be counterparts of the human MNS and Rh blood group systems, respectively. Two blood group systems have been defined in Old World monkeys: the Drh system of macaques and the Bp system of baboons, both linked by at least one species shared by either of the blood group systems. [2]

Canine blood groups [ edit ]

Over 13 canine blood groups have been described. Eight DEA (dog erythrocyte antigen) types are recognized as international standards. [3] [4] [5] Of these DEA types, DEA 4 and DEA 6 appear on the red blood cells of ~98% of dogs. Dogs with only DEA 4 or DEA 6 can thus serve as blood donors for the majority of the canine population. Any of these DEA types may stimulate an immune response in a recipient of a blood transfusion, but reactions to DEA 1.1+ are the most severe.

Dogs that are DEA 1.1 positive (33 to 45% of the population) are universal recipients — that is, they can receive blood of any type without expectation of a life-threatening hemolytic transfusion reaction. Dogs that are DEA 1.1 negative are universal donors. Blood from DEA 1.1 positive dogs should never be transfused into DEA 1.1 negative dogs. If it is the dog’s first transfusion the red cells transfused will have a shortened life due to the formation of alloantibodies to the cells themselves and the animal will forever be sensitized to DEA 1.1 positive blood. If it is a second such transfusion, life-threatening conditions will follow within hours. In addition, these alloantibodies will be present in a female dog’s milk (colostrum) and adversely affect the health of DEA 1.1 negative puppies. [6]

Other than DEA blood types, Dal is another blood type commonly known in dogs.

Feline blood groups [ edit ]

A majority of feline blood types are covered by the AB blood group, which designates cats as A, B, or AB. This type is determined by the CMAH alleles a cat possess. The majority A allele seems to be dominant over the recessive B type, which is found with a higher frequency in some countries other than the United States. An «AB» type seems to be expressed by a third recessive allele. [7] [8] [9] In a study conducted in England, 87.1% of non-pedigree cats were type A, while only 54.6% of pedigree cats were type A. [10] Type A and B cats have naturally occurring alloantibodies to the opposite blood type, although the reaction of Type B cats to Type A blood is more severe than vice versa. Based on this, all cats should have a simple blood typing test done to determine their blood type prior to a transfusion or breeding to avoid haemolytic disease or neonatal isoerythrolysis.

An additional blood group system is Mik (+/-). It is only identified in 2007, with no specific gene mapped yet, [11] but the prevalence of Mik- appears high enough for concern. [12]

Equine blood groups [ edit ]

Horses have eight blood groups, of which seven, A, C, D, K, P, Q, and U, are internationally recognized, while the eighth, T, is primarily used in research. [13] Each blood group has at least two allelic factors (for example, the A blood group has a, b, c, d, e, f, and g), which can be combined in all combinations (Aa, Afg, Abedg, etc.), [ dubious – discuss ] to make many different alleles. This means that horses can have around 400,000 allelic combinations, allowing blood testing to be used as an accurate method of identifying a horse or determining parentage. Unlike humans, horses do not naturally produce antibodies against red blood cell antigens that they do not possess; this only occurs if they are somehow exposed to a different blood type, such as through blood transfusion or transplacental hemorrhage during parturition. [14]

Breeding a mare to a stallion with a different blood type, usually Aa or Qa blood, risks neonatal isoerythrolysis if the foal inherits the blood type of the stallion. Group C is also of some degree of concern. [15] This can also occur if a mare is bred to a jack, due to a «donkey factor». This immune-mediated disease is life-threatening and often requires transfusion.

Ideally, cross-matching should be performed prior to transfusion, or a universal donor may be used. The ideal universal whole blood donor is a non-thoroughbred gelding that is Aa, Ca, and Qa negative. If this is not available, a gelding, preferably of the same breed as the patient, may be used as a donor, and cross-matching may be crudely accessed by mixing donor serum with patient blood. If the mixture agglutinates, the donor blood contains antibodies against the blood of the patient, and should not be used.

Bovine blood groups [ edit ]

The polymorphic systems in cattle include the A, B, C, F, J, L, M, S, and Z polymorphisms. [16]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Segurel, L.; Thompson, E. E.; Flutre, T.; Lovstad, J.; Venkat, A.; Margulis, S. W.; Moyse, J.; Ross, S.; Gamble, K.; Sella, G.; Ober, C.; Przeworski, M. (22 October 2012). «The ABO blood group is a trans-species polymorphism in primates». Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (45): 18493–18498. arXiv: 1208.4613 . Bibcode:2012PNAS..10918493S. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210603109 . PMC3494955 . PMID23091028.
  2. ^
  3. Socha WW (August 1980). «Blood groups of apes and monkeys: current status and practical applications». Lab. Anim. Sci. 30 (4 Pt 1): 698–702. PMID6775134.
  4. ^
  5. Symons M, Bell K (1991). «Expansion of the canine A blood group system». Anim. Genet. 22 (3): 227–35. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.1991.tb00672.x. PMID1928828.
  6. ^
  7. Symons M, Bell K (1992). «Canine blood groups: description of 20 specificities». Anim. Genet. 23 (6): 509–15. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.1992.tb00169.x. PMID1492701.
  8. ^
  9. Andrews GA, Chavey PS, Smith JE (November 1992). «Reactivity of lichen lectins with blood typed canine erythrocytes». Res. Vet. Sci. 53 (3): 315–9. doi:10.1016/0034-5288(92)90132-L. PMID1465504.
  10. ^
  11. «Canine Blood Typing». (DMS) Laboratories, Inc. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15 . Retrieved 2011-07-17 .
  12. ^
  13. Bighignoli B, Niini T, Grahn RA, Pedersen NC, Millon LV, Polli M, et al. (June 2007). «Cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (CMAH) mutations associated with the domestic cat AB blood group». BMC Genetics. 8: 27. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-8-27. PMC1913925 . PMID17553163.
  14. ^
  15. Giger U, Kilrain CG, Filippich LJ, Bell K (November 1989). «Frequencies of feline blood groups in the United States». J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 195 (9): 1230–2. PMID2584120.
  16. ^
  17. Malik R, Griffin DL, White JD, Rozmanec M, Tisdall PL, Foster SF, Bell K, Nicholas FW (2005). «The prevalence of feline A/B blood types in the Sydney region». Aust. Vet. J. 83 (1–2): 38–44. doi:10.1111/j.1751-0813.2005.tb12190.x. PMID15971816.
  18. ^
  19. Knottenbelt, CM (March 1999). «Determination of the prevalence of feline blood types in the UK». J Small Anim Pract. 40 (3): 115–118. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-5827.1999.tb03051.x . PMID10200921.
  20. ^
  21. Mellor, N (30 August 1980). «Addiction to Distalgesic (dextropropoxyphene)». British Medical Journal. 281 (6240): 617. doi:10.1136/bmj.281.6240.617. PMC1713889 . PMID7427390.
  22. ^
  23. McClosky, Megan E.; Cimino Brown, Dorothy; Weinstein, Nicole M.; Chappini, Nicole; Taney, Michael T.; Marryott, Kimberly; Callan, Mary Beth (November 2018). «Prevalence of naturally occurring non-AB blood type incompatibilities in cats and influence of crossmatch on transfusion outcomes». Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 32 (6): 1934–1942. doi:10.1111/jvim.15334. PMC6271279 . PMID30307648.
  24. ^
  25. Jackson, Karen V. (2021). «Immunohematology and hemostasis». In Walton, Raquel M.; Cowell, Rick L.; Valenciano, Amy C. (eds.). Equine Hematology, Cytology, and Clinical Chemistry (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 41–43. ISBN9781119500223 .
  26. ^
  27. MacLeay, JM (March 2001). «Neonatal isoerythrolysis». Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. 21 (3): 106–109. doi:10.1016/S0737-0806(01)70105-0.
  28. ^
  29. «Blood Groups and Blood Transfusions in Horses — Horse Owners». MSD Veterinary Manual.
  30. ^Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Blood Types

Further reading [ edit ]

  • Boyd, WC. Fundamentals of Immunology Third Edition 1956, Interscience.

External links [ edit ]

  • H/h blood groups in non-humans at BGMUT Blood Group Antigen Gene Mutation Database at NCBI, NIH
  • MNS blood groups in non-humans at BGMUT Blood Group Antigen Gene Mutation Database at NCBI, NIH
  • Rh blood groups in non-humans at BGMUT Blood Group Antigen Gene Mutation Database at NCBI, NIH

Retrieved from «»

  • Animal physiology
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