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Blog: Guest Posts
My Idiopathic Pup
Pondering one Border Collie's genetics
This post is really a spontaneous one. I’ve thought about this for many years, and I’ve had discussions with many a dog person on the topic of breeding. I am not a breeder and I have great empathy for those that truly advocate for their breed and those who attempt to maintain vigor and health in their breeding practices. I am prompted to write today because of a scary episode that happened a few...
Blog: Guest Posts
The Age of Ruppies
Scientists clone dog with muzzle that glows
Have you heard the one about the Beagle that glowed? No. It’s not a joke. And it’s not a Claymation Christmas special. It’s another dog cloning experiment out of South Korea (home of RNL Bio, which is steadily building a commercial dog-cloning operation). According to a story in the Lexington Herald-Leader (with photos), the Beagle clones, infused with a gene from a sea anemone, have a rosy flush...
Dog Culture: Science & History
DNA & The Well-Mixed Mutt
Dogs are more than the sum of their parts
After years of flattering inquiries about our canines (“Oh, what a beautiful… what is he?”) and faltering replies (“Maybe…a Cocker/couch-potato mix?”), I decided to explore the new mixed-breed DNA testing. Not that I couldn’t hazard some serious guesses about their ancestry. Upon rescue, Ticker appeared to be tan, but once rinsed of an entire puppyhood’s worth of dirt and neglect, his coat was...
Good Dog: Studies & Research
Controversy Over BBC's Purebred Dog Breeding Documentary
BBC’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed strikes a chord
In August 2008, a powerful BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed (PDE), rocked the dog world when it claimed to reveal the “greatest animal welfare scandal of our time.” Following its premiere, a review in a national newspaper said the show had “gone off like a bomb in quite a few British living rooms.” Four million British people watched, and the BBC received its biggest-ever viewer response to...
Blog: Karen B. London
Researching Social Cognition
Dogs finally get some respect
Science recently ran an article about the importance of dog research. It’s an understatement to say that times they are a-changing. The fact is that times have changed so much that it’s a whole new era. This journal is among the most prestigious of scientific publications, and to see a big article about the value of dogs as research subjects is mind-blowing to those of us whose discussions of dog...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
Three Genes Behind the Canine Coat
Scientists identify the genetic variants that influence dog hair.
From the Puli’s cords to the Poodle’s curls, the canine’s array of coats makes them one of the most diverse species in the world. Until now, little was known about the genetics behind their fur. Recently, a team of researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) studied 1,000 dogs representing 80 breeds and identified three genetic variants that account for all dog hair types...
Blog: Guest Posts
Origin of (Dog) Species
East Asia may not be where it all began.
Over the weekend, a science writer friend tipped me off to a paper to be published on Monday—“Complex population structure in African village dogs and its implications for inferring dog domestication history.” It was a gloriously sunny weekend, perfect for adventures with Lulu and Renzo, so I gave the paper a skim and managed to underappreciate the implications. As usual, I left it to The New...
Blog: Guest Posts
Mysteries of the Basset Hound Revealed
Scientists isolate the gene behind short legs.
A new study published in Science identifies the single evolutionary event that shortened the legs of Dachshunds, Basset Hounds and other stubby puppies. An extra copy of a gene (Fgf4 retrogene, to be exact), acquired by mutation at least 300 years ago, “causes the overproduction of a protein that disrupts growth during fetal development,” writes Sarah Arnquist, translating the study for a New...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
Dog’s Role in Studying Human Oncology
Similarities in the two species’ DNA helps researchers.
Meningioma is one of the most common brain tumors in humans and canines. Determining the gene responsible for the disease isn’t easy. According to Science Daily, humans with this type of cancer usually lose a certain chromosome made up of almost 50 million base pairs of DNA that code for more than 500 genes. Lucky for oncology research, it turns out that dogs and humans are genetically similar,...
Dog Culture: Science & History
DNA Test Helps Dalmatians
Researchers identify gene that causes bladder stones
How do you recognize a Dalmatian? If you think of the movie 101 Dalmatians or the dog who traditionally rides on the fire engine, it’s easy. Dalmatians are, of course, known for their characteristic spots— breeders have spent many years selecting for dogs with spotting patterns that fit the ideal breed standard: evenly distributed, distinct, well-defined round spots that are larger than a dime...

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