Anal furunculosis (AF) is a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of the perianal tissues most frequently affecting middle-aged or older German Shepherd dogs (GSD). Because this breed accounts for over 80% of all reported cases, there is likely to be a genetic association with disease susceptibility. Although there are some similarities with perianal fistulation that occurs in human Crohn's disease, the aetiology and pathogenesis of AF are still poorly understood. Recent research has suggested an immune-mediated aetiology, and evidence for this has been further provided by clinical responses to the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporin. The aim of the current study was to investigate canine major histocompatibility complex immune response genes. Dog leucocyte antigen class II alleles and haplotypes were characterised by sequence-based typing of 107 GSD affected with AF and 196 breed-matched controls collected in the UK. A highly significant association of DLA-DRB1*00101 with the presence of AF was observed (OR = 5.01, CI = 2.7-9.3, P < 0.00000001). This association was confirmed in a second cohort of GSD collected in Finland. Homozygosity for this allele is associated with an earlier disease onset.