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Concept: Dog type


There are nearly 400 modern domestic dog breeds with a unique histories and genetic profiles. To track the genetic signatures of breed development, we have assembled the most diverse dataset of dog breeds, reflecting their extensive phenotypic variation and heritage. Combining genetic distance, migration, and genome-wide haplotype sharing analyses, we uncover geographic patterns of development and independent origins of common traits. Our analyses reveal the hybrid history of breeds and elucidate the effects of immigration, revealing for the first time a suggestion of New World dog within some modern breeds. Finally, we used cladistics and haplotype sharing to show that some common traits have arisen more than once in the history of the dog. These analyses characterize the complexities of breed development, resolving longstanding questions regarding individual breed origination, the effect of migration on geographically distinct breeds, and, by inference, transfer of trait and disease alleles among dog breeds.

Concepts: Gene, Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Purebred, Origin, Landrace


Europe has played a major role in dog evolution, harbouring the oldest uncontested Palaeolithic remains and having been the centre of modern dog breed creation. Here we sequence the genomes of an Early and End Neolithic dog from Germany, including a sample associated with an early European farming community. Both dogs demonstrate continuity with each other and predominantly share ancestry with modern European dogs, contradicting a previously suggested Late Neolithic population replacement. We find no genetic evidence to support the recent hypothesis proposing dual origins of dog domestication. By calibrating the mutation rate using our oldest dog, we narrow the timing of dog domestication to 20,000-40,000 years ago. Interestingly, we do not observe the extreme copy number expansion of the AMY2B gene characteristic of modern dogs that has previously been proposed as an adaptation to a starch-rich diet driven by the widespread adoption of agriculture in the Neolithic.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Europe, Dog type, Neolithic, Stone Age, Neolithic Revolution, Mesolithic


The overall similarity of the skull shape of some dog breeds with that of juvenile wolves begs the question if and how ontogenetic changes such as paedomorphosis (evolutionary juvenilisation) played a role in domestication. Here we test for changes in patterns of development and growth during dog domestication. We present the first geometric morphometric study using ontogenetic series of dog and wolf crania, and samples of dogs with relatively ancestral morphology and from different time periods. We show that patterns of juvenile-to-adult morphological change are largely similar in wolves and domestic dogs, but differ in two ways. First, dog skulls show unique (neomorphic) features already shortly after birth, and these features persist throughout postnatal ontogeny. Second, at any given age, juvenile dogs exhibit skull shapes that resemble those of consistently younger wolves, even in dog breeds that do not exhibit a ‘juvenilized’ morphology as adults. These patterns exemplify the complex nature of evolutionary changes during dog domestication: the cranial morphology of adult dogs cannot simply be explained as either neomorphic or paedomorphic. The key to our understanding of dog domestication may lie in a closer comparative examination of developmental phases.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Skull, Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Canidae, Gray Wolf


Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) have developed a close relationship with humans through the process of domestication. In human-dog interactions, eye contact is a key element of relationship initiation and maintenance. Previous studies have suggested that canine ability to produce human-directed communicative signals is influenced by domestication history, from wolves to dogs, as well as by recent breed selection for particular working purposes. To test the genetic basis for such abilities in purebred dogs, we examined gazing behavior towards humans using two types of behavioral experiments: the ‘visual contact task’ and the ‘unsolvable task’. A total of 125 dogs participated in the study. Based on the genetic relatedness among breeds subjects were classified into five breed groups: Ancient, Herding, Hunting, Retriever-Mastiff and Working). We found that it took longer time for Ancient breeds to make an eye-contact with humans, and that they gazed at humans for shorter periods of time than any other breed group in the unsolvable situation. Our findings suggest that spontaneous gaze behavior towards humans is associated with genetic similarity to wolves rather than with recent selective pressure to create particular working breeds.

Concepts: Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Purebred, Canidae, Gray Wolf, Landrace


An extraordinary amount of genomic variation is contained within the chromosomes of domestic dogs, manifesting as dramatic differences in morphology, behaviour and disease susceptibility. Morphology, in particular, has been a topic of enormous interest as biologists struggle to understand the small window of dog domestication from wolves, and the division of dogs into pure breeding, closed populations termed breeds. Many traits related to morphology, including body size, leg length and skull shape, have been under selection as part of the standard descriptions for the nearly 400 breeds recognized worldwide. Just as important, however, are the minor traits that have undergone selection by fanciers and breeders to define dogs of a particular appearance, such as tail length, ear position, back arch and variation in fur (pelage) growth patterns. In this paper, we both review and present new data for traits associated with pelage including fur length, curl, growth, shedding and even the presence or absence of fur. Finally, we report the discovery of a new gene associated with the absence of coat in the American Hairless Terrier breed.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Evo-devo in the genomics era, and the origins of morphological diversity’.

Concepts: Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Dog health, Dogs, Fox, Gray Wolf


Every year, thousands of purebred domestic dogs are bred by registered dog breeders. Yet, little is known about the rearing environment of these dogs, or the attitudes and priorities surrounding breeding practices of these dog breeders. The objective of this study was to explore some of the factors that dog breeders consider important for stock selection, with a particular emphasis on issues relating to the dam. Two-hundred and seventy-four Australian purebred dog breeders, covering 91 breeds across all Australian National Kennel Club breed groups, completed an online survey relating to breeding practices. Most breeders surveyed (76%) reported specialising in one breed of dog, the median number of dogs and bitches per breeder was two and three respectively, and most breeders bred two litters or less a year. We identified four components, relating to the dam, that were considered important to breeders. These were defined as Maternal Care, Offspring Potential, Dam Temperament, and Dam Genetics and Health. Overall, differences were observed in attitudes and beliefs across these components, showing that there is variation according to breed/breed groups. In particular, the importance of Maternal Care varied according to dog breed group. Breeders of brachycephalic breeds tended to differ the most in relation to Offspring Potential and Dam Genetics and Health. The number of breeding dogs/bitches influenced breeding priority, especially in relation to Dam Temperament, however no effect was found relating to the number of puppies bred each year. Only 24% of breeders used their own sire for breeding. The finding that some breeders did not test for diseases relevant to their breed, such as hip dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, provides important information on the need to educate some breeders, and also buyers of purebred puppies, that screening for significant diseases should occur. Further research into the selection of breeding dams and sires will inform future strategies to improve the health and behaviour of our best friend.

Concepts: Selective breeding, Breed, Labrador Retriever, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Purebred, Conformation show


Adoption records from 2 no kill shelters in New York State were examined to determine how age, sex, size, breed group, and coat color influenced the length of stay (LOS) of dogs at these shelters. Young puppies had the shortest length of stay; LOS among dogs increased linearly as age increased. Neither coat color nor sex influenced LOS. Considering only size classifications, medium-size dogs had the greatest LOS, and extra small dogs and puppies remained in shelters for the least amount of time. Considering only breed groupings, dogs in the guard group had the greatest LOS and those in the giant group had the shortest LOS. The lack of effect of coat color was not expected, nor was the shorter LOS among “fighting” breeds compared with other breed groups. Coat color and breed may have only local effects on LOS that do not generalize to all shelters, including traditional shelters. Understanding the traits of dogs in a specific shelter and the characteristics of these nonhuman animals desired by adopters are critical to improving the welfare of animals served by that shelter.

Concepts: Animal, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, No-kill shelter


During the domestication process, dogs were selected for their suitability for multiple purposes, resulting in a variety of behavioral characteristics. In particular, the ancient group of breeds that is genetically closer to wolves may show different behavioral characteristics when compared to other breed groups. Here, we used questionnaire evaluations of dog behavior to investigate whether behavioral characteristics of dogs were different among genetically clustered breed groups. A standardized questionnaire, the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ), was used, and breed group differences of privately-owned dogs from Japan (n = 2,951) and the United States (n = 10,389) were analyzed. Results indicated that dogs in the ancient and spitz breed group showed low attachment and attention-seeking behavior. This characteristic distinguished the ancient group from any other breed groups with presumed modern European origins, and may therefore, be an ancestral trait.

Concepts: Selective breeding, Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Canidae, Gray Wolf, Coyote, Landrace


Salivary cortisol is widely used as an indicator of stress and welfare in canine research. However, much remains unclear about the basic features of this hormone marker in domestic dogs. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determine a reference range for cortisol concentration in the saliva of dogs and examine how canine characteristics, environmental effects and experimental considerations relate to salivary cortisol concentrations. A systematic review of literature databases and conference proceedings from 1992 to 2012 identified 61 peer-reviewed studies using domestic dog salivary cortisol. Researchers were contacted via email, and 31 raw data sets representing a total of 5,153 samples from 1,205 dogs were shared. Meta-analysis provided a cortisol concentration range of 0 to 33.79 μg/dL (mean 0.45 μg/dL, SEM 0.13). Significant effects (P < 0.05) were found for sex and neuter status, age, regular living environment, time in environment before testing, testing environment, owner presence during testing, and collection media. Significant effects were not found for dog breed, body weight, dog type, coat color, assay type, exercise, eating, or use of salivary stimulant. Care should be taken when using cortisol studies for dogs at a group or population level as there is a large amount of intraindividual and interindividual variability and external variables could influence salivary cortisol concentration. This analysis highlights the importance of carefully controlling experimental design to compare samples within and between individual dogs, as well as establishing and using best practices for saliva collection. Caution should be exercised in comparing different studies, as the results could be the reflection of a plethora of factors.

Concepts: Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Dog health, Purebred, Neutering, Landrace, Coat


This study investigated the current management practices associated with stock herding dogs on Australian farms. A parallel goal was to determine whether these practices and the characteristics of the dog handlers were associated with success rates. Success rate refers to the proportion of dogs acquired by the farmer that were retained as working dogs. Data on a total of 4,027 dogs were obtained through The Farm Dog Survey which gathered information from 812 herding dog owners around Australia. Using logistic regression, significant associations were identified between success rate and seven variables: dog breed, housing method, trial participation, age of the dog at acquisition, electric collar use, hypothetical maximum treatment expenditure and the conscientiousness score of the owner’s personality. These findings serve as a guide to direct further research into ways of optimising herding dog performance and welfare. They emphasise the importance of not only examining the genetic predispositions of the working dog but also the impact the handler can have on a dog’s success in the workplace.

Concepts: Dog, Dog breed, Dog type, Dog health, Bloodhound, Police dog, Working dog, Herding dog