How do you make the perfect sled dog?

Jul 21, 2010
This is a team of sled dogs. Credit: Huson et al., BMC Genetics

Over the last few hundred years, Alaskan sled dogs have been bred to haul cargo over Arctic terrain and, more recently, for racing. Now, researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Genetics have identified the contributions different breeds have made to the speed, endurance and work ethic of Alaskan sled dogs.

Heather Huson and Elaine Ostrander, from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA, worked with a team of researchers to carry out in 199 sled dogs and 681 purebred dogs from 141 different breeds.

Huson said, "The Alaskan sled dog comprises several different lineages, optimized for different racing styles - long or short distance. We sought to identify breed composition profiles associated with expertise at specific tasks, finding that the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky contributions are associated with enhanced endurance; Pointer and Saluki are associated with enhanced speed and the Anatolian Shepherd has a positive influence on work ethic".

The researchers sampled sled dogs from eight kennels, rating them for speed, endurance, and work ethic, using established criteria specified for the distinct racing styles of sprint and distance. These attributes were correlated with taken from each dog and compared to likely ancestral breeds. Speaking about the results, Huson said, "The Alaskan sled dog presents a case in which a genetically distinct breed of dog has been developed through the selection and breeding of individuals based solely on their athletic prowess.

Interestingly, this continual out-crossing for athletic enhancement has still led to the Alaskan sled dog repeatedly producing its own unique . Indeed, the Alaskan sled dog breed proved to be more genetically distinct than breeds of similar heritage such as the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky".

Explore further: Groundbreaking study compares how bat and human cells respond to viruses

More information: A genetic dissection of breed composition and performance enhancement in the Alaskan sled dog, Heather J Huson, Heidi G Parker, Jonathan Runstadler and Elaine A Ostrander, BMC Genetics (in press) www.biomedcentral.com/bmcgenet/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Human-dog communication -- breed as important as species

Jul 24, 2009

Dog breeds selected to work in visual contact with humans, such as sheep dogs and gun dogs, are better able to comprehend a pointing gesture than those breeds that usually work without direct supervision. A series of tests, ...

Researchers study genetic evolution of African dogs

Aug 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- African village dogs are not a mixture of modern breeds but have directly descended from an ancestral pool of indigenous dogs, according to a Cornell-led genetic analysis of hundreds of semi-feral ...

Canine morphology: Hunting for genes and tracking mutations

Mar 02, 2010

Why do domestic dogs vary so much in size, shape, coat texture, color and patterning? Study of the dog genome has reached a point where the molecular mechanisms governing such variation across mammalian species are becoming ...

Dog genetic studies reveal why Shar-Peis are wrinkled

Jan 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- There are over 400 genetically different dog breeds, with massive variations in size, colors, fur type, temperament, and so on, and scientists have wondered exactly what changes in the genes ...

Recommended for you

Model evaluates where bioenergy crops grow best

1 hour ago

Farmers interested in bioenergy crops now have a resource to help them determine which kind of bioenergy crop would grow best in their regions and what kind of harvest to expect.

Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

Nov 21, 2014

Worldwide, drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high soil saline content all have negative effects on tomato crops. These natural processes reduce soil nutrient content and lifespan, result in reduced plant growth ...

Plant immunity comes at a price

Nov 21, 2014

Plants are under permanent attack by a multitude of pathogens. To win the battle against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, they have developed a complex and effective immune system. And just as ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.