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To evaluate the association of oral Treponema (T.) spp. with severity of canine periodontitis, subgingival plaque samples of dogs of various breeds undergoing surgery were investigated. A wide range of oral Treponema spp. was analysed by a molecular and culture-independent approach applying DNA-DNA dot blot hybridization analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization using Treponema specific oligonucleotide probes specific for phylogenetic groups I-VII of oral treponemes as well as probes specific for T. socranskii and T. denticola. To assess the periodontal status of affected dogs clinical parameters were measured and the periodontal status was classified from grade 0 (physiological periodont) to 3 (severe periodontitis). The periodontal status correlated significantly with an increasing concentration of volatile sulfur compounds (VSC, r=0.854) determined with a Halimeter, indicating a positive correlation between the presence of VSC-producing bacteria and periodontitis. In this study Treponema spp. of phylogenetic groups III, V-VII were not detected in any sample, whereas T. denticola-like treponemes were found only in 2 of 51 animals. However, treponemes belonging to phylogenetic groups I, II and IV of oral treponemes or T. socranskii were found in up to 64.84% of the dogs. The detection rate of Treponema spp. was significantly associated with an increased periodontal status. Treponemes present in periodontal lesions were also visualized by fluorescence in situ hybridization of gingival biopsies showing Treponema spp. not only in the microbial biofilm but also within the gingival tissue. The data presented here indicate that oral Treponema spp. are associated with canine periodontitis. Similar to human periodontitis, treponemes of groups I, II and IV and T. socranskii were found more frequently the higher the degree of periodontitis was.