MAR 21, 2019 07:30 AM PDT

Should You Genetically Design Your Puppy?

 

A man's best friend is one of the most genetically engineered animals ever. Historically, Border Collies were bred to herd livestock, German Shepherds were bred to work for the police, and Labradors were bred to retrieve game. Over many generations, humans have bred dogs with desirable traits which have resulted in specific, unique breeds. Traditional breeding takes many years and risks unintentionally selecting unfavorable genes. Now, DNA tests can cheaply identify the health risks a dog has.

Breeding for desirable aesthetic traits has resulted in many common health problems like hip dysplasia, diabetes, and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). DNA tests could help avoid breeding dogs that are genetically at risk for serious health problems and could eventually abolish some of these aesthetically caused risks. A dog DNA test works like a human ancestry kit; swab the saliva from the dog, mail the sample to the sequencing company, and the results are ready within a few weeks.

However, this knowledge is unlikely to cause the creation of "the perfect dog" because "perfect" is subjective. Avoiding health risks is universally desired by dog owners, but how much a dog enjoys (or despises) getting a bath is not. The goal is to breed dogs to be healthy pets.  

Currently, purebreds are the model organisms of dog DNA tests. Since their ancestry is genetically less diverse than a mixed breed, abnormalities in the genes are easier to spot.  Additionally, sequence screenings are more accurate for mixed breeds when the sample is compared to many different purebreds’ genomes. 

Vicky Collins-Nattrass, a breeder and dog judge, worries that with this knowledge it will become fashionable to have a dog with unnatural eye or coat color. Since it is already acceptable to selectively breed animals, knowing the function of every gene raises questions about how far selective breeding will go. Collins-Nattrass worries that soon breeds will not be recognizable to how they are currently defined.

 

Source:  Wired, ABC News

 

About the Author
  • Intern research scientist genetically engineering yeast to making a renewable fuel. Interested in food/water security, sustainable fuel, and sustainable farming.
You May Also Like
MAR 14, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAR 14, 2019
Understanding Why Birth Control Can Fail
The failure of birth control has often been blamed on the user. But there may be other factors at work....
MAR 26, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
MAR 26, 2019
Using Gene Networks to Get Closer to Personalized Medicine
Genetic sequencing technologies have been getting better and cheaper, and all of this knowledge has opened many doors....
APR 07, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
APR 07, 2019
Mutation Hotspot in Common Fungus Gives it Adaptation Skills
Yeast carry a mutation hotspots, and can adapt within a host to spread to adapt to new environments....
APR 08, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
APR 08, 2019
A Cellular Mechanism for Repairing DNA Damage is Revealed
Our DNA is exposed to carcinogens and other factors that can cause damage. Damaged DNA can lead to diseases like cancer....
APR 10, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
APR 10, 2019
Selenocysteine, the 21st Amino Acid
An unusual amino acid called selenocysteine is not encoded directly in the genome, but is needed for the function of some enzymes....
APR 10, 2019
Health & Medicine
APR 10, 2019
The Healthiest Gut Makes the Healthiest Mind
  In a study published in February in the journal, Nature researchers report more evidence that microbial diversity in the human digestive system and...
Loading Comments...