Category archives: All Things Dog

Resources and information for the dog owner or breeder.

Evolution of the Canine

Evolution of the Canine

At least 33,000 years ago, humans began the process of domesticating certain members of the gray wolf species. Since that process began, humans have genetically manipulated canines to fill various roles – beginning with tasks that increased means of survival and later to simply serve as companions. Those evolutionary changes have been a benefit to humans, but have caused health issues within many dogs – because as we’ve bred for desired physical traits, detrimental genetic mutations have also been passed along within many breeds.

The consistent selective breeding of canines has led to hundreds of breeds with standard and predictable attributes, or traits.

For example, the short-legged, long-bodied dachshunds allowed them to easily enter underground tunnels and burrows of badgers and other small animals; long-eared, keen-smelling bloodhounds were bred to trail deer, wild boar and later humans; some of the oldest breeds, the sight hounds, which include greyhounds, whippets and saluki, were selectively bred for long legs, strong aerobic endurance, sharp eyesight and the desire to chase feathered and furred game.

These consistent traits were brought about by mixing several different canines that possessed desired attributes (i.e., flat-coated retrievers were likely a combination of St. John’s Water Dogs ...

The Best Guard Dog Breeds

The Best Guard Dog Breeds

Throughout the evolution of the modern canine, one of the most important symbiotic relationships with humans has been as the role of protector by the dog.

Those wolves that stuck close to humans in hopes of scavenging leftovers, and which slowly evolved into modern canines, provided early man with advanced warning systems and protection when other wild creatures in nature provided a much greater threat than they do today.

However, not much has changed in tens of thousands of years. Today’s dogs are used by the military, businesses and in homes throughout the country (and world), for protection and guard duty.

In fact, the right dog in a home can be a greater deterrent for criminals than the presence of a firearm. In a study that involved 589 convicted property offenders, the question was asked: “How effective is each of the following likely to be in preventing burglary, breaking and entering and grand theft?”

The results were:

0: not effective; 1: somewhat effective; 2: very effective

Monitored burglar alarms: 1.51
Electronic sensors in windows: 1.35
Closed circuit TV cameras in stores: 1.31
Private security patrols: 1.14
DOG IN HOUSE: 1.11
Weapons in home: 1 ...

Popular Sire Syndrome: When Winning Results in Losing

Popular Sire Syndrome: When Winning Results in Losing

A phenomenon in canine competition circles known as popular sire syndrome can produce strong, competitive and intelligent puppies that go on to become, and produce, champions. The occurrence can also produce puppies that fill the breeding pool with genetic maladies.

When a male dog wins a prestigious championship, he obviously has what it takes to win at the highest levels. The effect is that his value as a stud dog skyrockets as breeders with females hope to produce puppies that can replicate their father’s accomplishments.

Often that trendy stud dog is bred with many female dogs throughout the country. When this happens, you can see that male dog show up in pedigrees from previously unrelated lines. In a large breeding pool, say with Labradors, the effects aren’t as profound as in a smaller population, but they’re still present and can cause issues for future generations regardless of population size. If that popular stud dog has any genetic disorders in his DNA, his puppies will likely harbor those mutations – at best becoming carriers and at worst being affected with the related disorder – and can continue to contaminate the breeding pool.

Even in a large breeding population, the bottleneck ...

A Mother’s Genetic Influence and Health Count

A Mother’s Genetic Influence and Health Count

There’s a saying in dog breeding: "like produces like." A good breeder knows this and will attempt to pair dogs similar in conformation, drive, disposition and trainability together so the puppies will be of consistent and known quality.

When it comes to selecting a puppy that is to be used for a very specific task, such as hunting, the show ring, herding or guide and detection dogs, future successes and ease of training for those tasks are heavily dependent genetics. Finding the best line of dogs with proven genetics, as well as the disposition and conformation you want is most greatly influenced by the dog’s sire and dam.

Too often today it seems that an inordinate amount of emphasis is placed on the sire’s accomplishments and lineage. While selecting a sire with a pedigree decorated with titles, or one with comprehensive experience, from the venue you’re wanting to participate in is important, the dam’s genetics, disposition and pedigree are just as important, if not more so.

There’s a theory out there, one that I like to keep in mind when looking at pedigrees, which says the bottom line of a dam’s pedigree is ...

Genetic Mutations in the AKC’s Most Popular List

Genetic Mutations in the AKC’s Most Popular List

The American Kennel Club has released their list of most popular dogs in the United States. And, once again, the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog, based upon AKC registration statistics, in the country. The 22-year streak atop the registration list ties the poodle for most consecutive number-one rankings.

The German shepherd dog, golden retriever, beagle and bulldog round out the top-five most popular dogs.

This year’s trend leans toward bigger dogs moving up the list after a several-year run of smaller dogs having seen a rise in popularity on the 175-dog list.

Not only is an overall list available, the AKC breaks out the most popular dogs in major cities.

While it’s fun to see where our dogs rank on the list, and to look at various cities and see which dogs are preferred by residents, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the more popular a dog, the more people there will be that offer them for sale. It’s supply-and-demand thing, and if there’s money to be made, someone will fill that demand. Second, with many people offering dogs and puppies for sale, unscrupulous and reckless breeding can lead to ...

Tips on Collecting a Swab Sample

Tips on Collecting a Swab Sample

Tips on Collecting a Swab Sample Cheek swabs are the easiest, least invasive means of collecting cells containing genetic material from your dog (see this post). It’s a simple process that we cover in the instructions sent with your kit, but here’s a little more information. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at askus@pawprintgenetics.com or 855-202-4889. After reviewing the form that came with your kit, you’re ready to start the collection process. It’s best not to take samples from a puppy that hasn’t been weaned because some of the mother’s DNA can be present due to nursing, which can contaminate the sample. Also, it’s best to wait for at least an hour after the dog eats before attempting to swab; excess saliva and food particles can compromise testing and reduce the quality of a sample. Each swab in the kit comes in a hard-plastic tube. This is to protect the sample during shipping and to minimize contamination. Do not discard the tubes after removing the swab. As you use each swab, put the tube aside in a clean place where it’s unlikely to come into contact with pollutants, especially another dog’s ...

Why use a cheek swab?

Why use a cheek swab?

The code to genetic health is found in DNA, which can be extracted from several sources – including skin and blood cells. At Paw Print GeneticsTM, we choose to use cells gathered from inside the cheek to check for genetic mutations in your dog’s genes. We do this for several reasons: It’s non-invasive: Unlike extracting cells from other sources, a cheek swab does not cause your dog discomfort, stress or put them at risk for infection. Rubbing the small sample-collection brush along the inside of a dog’s cheek to collect the cells is the least invasive and easiest method of collection for both you and your dog. No vet visit required: Cheek swabs allow you to collect a sample without leaving home, further reducing stress on your dog and making the process as simple as possible. By eliminating a visit to the veterinarian, the sample can be collected as your schedule allows, while also reducing your out-of-pocket costs. Plenty of DNA: Cheek cells also provide plenty of DNA for our geneticists to work with; DNA, the genetic material, is found in every cell collected from a cheek specimen, but not blood, as only white blood cells contain DNA. It’s ...