July 23, 2010
Making The Perfect Sled Dog?
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 genetic analysis 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".
Reference: 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)
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