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The objective of this study was to evaluate dexmedetomidine as a premedicant in dogs prior to propofol–desflurane anaesthesia, and to compare it with medetomidine. Six healthy dogs were anaesthetized. Each dog received intravenously (i.v.) five preanaesthetic protocols: D1 (dexmedetomidine, 1 μg/kg, i.v.), D2 (dexmedetomidine, 2 μg/kg, i.v.), M1 (medetomidine, 1 μg/kg, i.v.), M2 (medetomidine, 2 μg/kg, i.v.), or M4 (medetomidine, 4 μg/kg, i.v.). Anaesthesia was induced with propofol (2.3–3.3 mg/kg) and maintained with desflurane. The following variables were studied: heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure, systolic arterial pressure, diastolic arterial pressure, respiratory rate (RR), arterial oxygen saturation, end-tidal CO2, end-tidal concentration of desflurane (EtDES) required for maintenance of anaesthesia and tidal volume. Arterial blood pH (pHa) and arterial blood gas tensions (PaO2, PaCO2) were measured during anaesthesia. Time to extubation, time to sternal recumbency and time to standing were also recorded. HR and RR decreased significantly during sedation in all protocols. Cardiorespiratory variables during anaesthesia were statistically similar for all protocols. EtDES was significantly different between D1 (8.1%) and D2 (7.5%), and between all doses of medetomidine. Desflurane requirements were similar for D1 and M2, and for D2 and M4 protocols. No statistical differences were observed in recovery times. The combination of dexmedetomidine, propofol and desflurane appears to be effective for induction and maintenance of general anaesthesia in healthy dogs.