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breed of dogs
guard dogs
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dog breeds
Genetic Differences In Dogs Shed Light On Human Diveristy
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Dog breeds have the most diverse body type of any land mammal. Though the tiny chihuahua and the giant Great Dane have bodies that barely resemble each other they are both the same species, canus familiarus. While Chihuahuas may seem to have more in common with your pet cat then hunting and guard dogs. It only took a few hundred years and the alteration of a few genes to transform one breed of dogs into to two breeds with dramatically different sizes.

Compared to other species the amount of physical difference between individuals in each dog breed is less then in humans and most other animals. There are social standards for the size and color of most dog breeds; these standards have created many breeds with only a very limited set of alleles.

Imagine differences in skin color in humans, the major variation which is controlled by several genes and is difficult for scientists to isolate. But in dogs since breeds are restricted to specific hair colors, when comparing poodles and boxers the genes for hair color stand out. This unique situation will allow scientists to identify genes responsible for different types of body types.

The sequencing of the human genome was like unlocking an ancient book. Now we have the cover open and find that text inside is in a foreign language. Finding which parts describe hair color or nose length has proved to be a major challenge due to the unique history of dogs there is the possibility of discovering the genetic correlates of physical differences. Since humans and dogs are both large mammals the discoveries found in dogs can be directly applicable and help uncover the causes of variation in the human species.

We are just beginning to develop the technology to find the genomic, the entire DNA of one individual and the differences that underlie physical differences. In humans, over a million different changes to single letters of DNA are required to find differences between people.

Traits or physical characteristics studied so far include body size and fur colors. Four or five different loci that is specific locations on the DNA strand have been identified as contributing to the skeletal size of dogs. Specific genes for leg width versus leg width have been uncovered.

Studies of fur color have shown that only three genes are responsible for 95 percent of the variation in coat coloration, texture, and coarseness across dog breeds. These few genes would be difficult to determine in humans, but have been readily determined in dogs. Since dogs and humans share so much in common we can expect to see future research target important shared diseases which can lead to new treatments and prevented deaths for both humans and canines alike.


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