From Our 2010 Archives

Alaskan Sled Dog Has Own Genetic 'Signature'

TUESDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- The contributions different dog breeds have made to the speed, endurance and work ethic of Alaskan sled dogs have been revealed through a new genetic analyses.

Researchers examined the genes of 199 sled dogs from eight kennels and 681 purebred dogs from 141 breeds. The findings were published recently in the journal BMC Genetics.

"The Alaskan sled dog comprises several different lineages, optimized for different racing styles -- long or short distance," study co-author Heather Huson, of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said in a journal news release.

"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," she said.

The Alaskan sled dog is an example of a genetically distinct breed that was developed through selection and breeding of individual dogs based solely on their athletic ability, Huson noted.

"Interestingly, this continual out-crossing for athletic enhancement has still led to the Alaskan sled dog repeatedly producing its own unique genetic signature," she said. "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."

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: BMC Genetics, news release, July 2010