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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Play a Game and Win a Nobel Peace Prize?

I read a NewsBlog on about a protein folding game called Fold It.
I thought that was mildly interesting at first and somewhat amusing, but particularly because it combines science, puzzles and games, I became intrigued had to check it out!

My first laugh... It was amusing to find that they chose a domain name of FOLD with the country code (IT) of Italy. But you know how geeks can be. :D

Proteins are complex molecules in long chains that spring themselves into curly folds... and look like messy jumbles of utter chaos. The thing though, is that proteins operate like hardware or software in the body, depending on what the protein is and how it is folded, as well being affected by its environment. It is this manner in which proteins are structured that gives them the ability to react variably in their environment and do such things as keep us healthy, to make us sick, or to cure us of something. :)

I haven't tried the game yet but the ideas behind it are intriguing - as you can see from the beta version of game and site icon at the left.
"Solve Puzzles for Science"
"We're hopefully going to change the way science is done, and who it's done by," said Popovic, who presented the project today at the Games for Health meeting in Baltimore. "Our ultimate goal is to have ordinary people play the game and eventually be candidates for winning the Nobel Prize."
Hey, that Nobel Prize sounds a little far fetched but there is truth in the fact that some of us are strong on various types of puzzles. Some people are pretty genius at recognizing abstract patterns immediately in bundles of chaos and others have different strengths in problem solving, which together can crystalize innovative approaches. I see that the game is online and free. Apparently they are keeping track of how the game and its puzzles are played by its players.

The homesite for Fold It is here and more about the science of the game can be read in a FAQ. Here's a question from part of the FAQ...

How does my game playing contribute to curing diseases?

With all the things proteins do to keep our bodies functioning and healthy, they can be involved in disease in many different ways. The more we know about how certain proteins fold, the better new proteins we can design to combat the disease-related proteins and cure the diseases.

A short YouTube movie showing the game in action.

Last minute add, a writer on Gamezebo mentions how games can be more directly helpful in healing and therapy.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/28/2008 12:11:00 AM | Permanent link | (3) Comments

Blogger euthymic sent us a woof // May 28, 2008

i think it is a nice idea to make games that also teach science in such an interesting way. i also like your 2 er... little? dogs   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // May 28, 2008

I agree about games that inspire and motivate.

Haha, about the little dogs. The pics of the dogs with Natalka are certainly impressive!   

Anonymous Anonymous sent us a woof // May 30, 2008

Do you think they would send my Nobel Prize in a bubble gum wrapper?


Monday, May 19, 2008

What is a Kangal Dog? And AdorableTakas Anatolian Shepherd Dog Puppies

Anatolian puppy meets Central Asian Ovcharka.

These photos are from when Lilli's recent litter was 3 weeks old. Ah, the epitome of cuteness! :)
You can visit her website here:

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

Takas Anatolians, Australia

All so cute!

Lilli has done a wonderful job creating a brief anthology from different sources, showing similarities and differences between some of the various fawn shepherd dogs of Turkey.

Holy Grail, Batman!
There are some dog lovers and fanciers that go on about how the Kangal Dog is pureblood, and emphasizing that the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is more generic. In fact there are several books written by laymen who love these Turkish dogs and who have a variable collection of theories. Many actually speak of purity without looking at the source of the 'kangal' dogs they are observing or merely generalizing about -- and then they argue among themselves, "What is a Kangal Dog?", in an effort to make it distinct from the Anatolian Shepherd Dog.

The Truth? Both have had the same rough start with preconceived ideas based on limited numbers of dogs observed; where dominant colors and coats suddenly produced recessives and somehow had to be explained. While one group, the Anatolian Shepherd folks simply accepted the diversity en route to achieving various kennel embraced ideal forms or others adopted an 'anything goes if the dog works' approach (wildlife conservation efforts, protection of livestock from predation), the other group (Kangal lovers) emphasized that their version is 'more pure'.


And they embraced a narrower standard within which they defined the color of their ideal dog.
Color is an important characteristic of the Kangal Dog. In Turkey, non-standard colors or patterns are indicators that the dog is not a purebred Kangal Dog. The true Kangal Dog color is always solid and ranges from a light dun or pale, dull gold to a steel gray, depending on the amount of black or gray in the outer guard hairs and in the soft, cashmere-like undercoat. This basic color is set off by a black mask which may completely cover the muzzle and even extend over the top of the head...

...Disqualifications: Solid black, white, or chocolate colored dogs; dogs with piebald, brindle, or other parti-colored patterns; white markings on the face other than the small white spot on the chin.
Faults: Poorly defined black mask.
A stricter standard is a useful tool in the artificial race to accomplish 'purity', to make it appear as though it has always been there. Compliance ensures removal of healthy genetic diversity via the route of eugenics/culling. A good demonstration of this loss of healthy diversity is that such strains of dogs tend to have more health problems than the more diverse group. Here are some breed stats from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

Kangal Dog Registry Rank Evaluations Percent Abnormal Percent Normal

Anatolian S.D. Registry Rank Evaluations Percent Abnormal Percent Normal

Most anyone will probably not consider it normal for animals to have the ball of their hip located too far outside of its socket. Some affected dogs hold it together by being muscular in their youth, while others lacking in this compensation, may never make it to their first birthday.

It has only been in recent years that some of the new age Turks (not the traditional working shepherds) have begun to embrace this Western concept of "purity". Amusing when one realizes that such a concept of purity is only about 200 years old based on the work of breed specialists and enthusiasts of the Kennel Club. The Turks didn't invent it, but some have adopted the system somehow believing that it is superior and many do not realize that many breeds have developed problems because of narrow breeding.

Certainly, historically, distant villages of the sprawling Ottoman Empire never had meetings to decide what color their dogs should be. They were probably too busy fighting each other? --or surviving somehow, until Mustafa Kemal Ataturk came around and tried to nationalize them all.... But that's another story. However, National Pride is a big thing... the concept of purity in the Kangal has become such an urban legend that national pride is associated with this, and some people no longer question it.

At least the genetics of the dogs themselves speaks volumes, as you will see below. And many old shepherds embrace the truthfulness of variety that they have always known. They did not breed to a standard, they bred what they liked, or more accurately, the dogs that they liked and kept, bred themselves. They did not register dogs and often they kept no pups or just a few in a given litter. What is really changing however, is that the population that has been so dependent on the working dogs is disappearing. It is now easier for the well-to-do, to turn to the dogs as a hobby and to embrace new ideas, and entertain national pride.

The history of the breed as told by the Ministry of Turkey makes it clear that there has been no historical documentation:

When we studied history of Kangal Dog, we could not find any documents about Kangal dogs. There are several rumours about Kangal dogs. According to one rumour, the dog was derived from lion and tiger during Asur and Babil periods and were petted in order to provide protection against wild animals and use in wars and were grown up with great care...

Kangal foundation stock
Above is a Kangal Dog imported by David Nelson as foundation stock.

How does the dog above, compare to these other fawn dogs also called 'Kangal Dogs' below?

What is a Kangal Dog
Young Kangal at a show in Istanbul.

What is a Kangal Dog
Kangal puppies at the Ulas breeding center.

What is a Kangal Dog
A blind, unweaned, 2 week old puppy being shown at a Turkish Kangal Dog Festival.

What is a Kangal Dog
A collection of Kangals headed to the showring at the Festival.

What is a Kangal Dog
Another dog shown as a Kangal at the same Festival.

What is a Kangal Dog?
Well then, what kinds of dogs are these?
--- To find out, see Lilli's pages on these dogs here and here.

The latter link is a special page primarily discussing issues in Australia where what basically happened is truly astounding.

Registered Anatolian Shepherd Dogs were first microchipped and then they were lined up to be judged by persons with no expertise in Turkish dogs. After this day, they were to be here on forward as either Anatolian Shepherd Dogs or as Kangal Dogs. Dogs were split into a new registry that was formed for the Kangal in Australia.

Isn't that amazing? Appointed judges viewed each dog and arbitrarily decided on the breed each dog would be. Some dogs ended up in a different breed categorization than their parents or littermates. (Hey Vern, let's put the blonde children on this side of the bus and the brunettes on the other!) In Australia, as it continues to happen in Turkey, some of these 'pure' Kangal Dogs still produce longer coated dogs or variations that do not satisfy the purists. Rather than concede the dogs are "Anatolians" all along, they simply call these dogs 'mismarks'. The name "Anatolian Shepherd Dog" has been made into a media target of scorn and this evolves from the vendetta of some Brits, who continue to rail against a person who realized the diversity of these dogs, namely Natalka Czartoryska. Whether one embraces her opinions or not, the dogs continue to produce so called "mismarks" nevertheless, and we can safely say that most of them never knew the lady.

But record keeping and pedigrees are only as honest as the people that keep them, and large numbers of these dogs are being bred, particularly in Turkey. The FCI requires a certain quota of registered dogs before a country's application to be FCI recognized can be accepted.

The off colored dogs and the ones with rough coats are apparently initially registered as kangal, to boost the numbers in order to rapidly meet the FCI quota. No DNA testing is necessary. This sort of paper play has occurred in the United Kingdom as well. Individual dogs that are not culled immediately, can be sold with false pedigrees to hide the identity of the supposedly pure parents (and mask the dishonesty of the breeder). While some may feel that these lies do not hurt the humans, in the long run, these will hurt the dogs. We are already seeing that rough coated dogs from Turkey in Kangal enthusiast areas, are getting the rough end of the stick when they are placed.

In the USA, despite that some Kangal Club members have been on genetics lists for a few years, they still insist on this peculiar purity that is only found in Kangal Dogs. They continue to explain away their own mismarks and poor orthopedics with various arguments, avoiding the fact that the same patterns have been recorded for thousands of Anatolians, long before Turks began to document their dogs and discover the same variations.

My high school genetics teacher would probably have flung a chalk board eraser at their blank heads for this stubborn pursuit of some Holy Grail. Alas, while claiming historic purity is a cool thing, it sure isn't honest or even genetically realistic in these dogs.

Boz, Geller Calendar
Boz, another beautiful Kangal Dog. This one from 2005 Geller Turkish calendar.

Dozer in Turkey
Dozer, a nice solid dog for sure!
How do these dogs compare to each other? Same breed, ya think?

Go figure!
Check out Lilli's pages above! :)
She's much more succinct!

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 5/19/2008 01:56:00 AM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Dynamic Genome - Magnificent Software?

An article from October 2007 at Newsweek discusses the importance of a balance of microbes in our lives and their importance in our genetic make up and immune systems.

While this posting isn't about dogs, many of the basic ideas below do carry between species.

". . . What we need is more exposure to the good microbes, and the job of medicine in the years to come will be sorting out the good microbes from the bad."

"That's the goal of the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year multinational study that its advocates say could tell us almost as much about life as the recently completed work of sequencing the human genome. One puzzling result of the Human Genome Project was the paltry number of genes it found—about 20,000, which is only as many as it takes to make a fruit fly. Now some researchers think some of the "missing" genes may be found in the teeming populations of microbes we host." See more...
I'm not so sure we can really put all bugs into black and white categories, but the reality beyond doubt to me, is that we do need a balance of exposure to microbes. The whole idea probably doesn't seem all that alien to most, but germ exposure is probably far more important than most people think. Take a look some of Mike Johnson's musings on gut flora at Modern Dragons for another take on this perspective. I especially thought the bit about the fruit fly having another organism fused to its genome as particularly interesting examples of evolution. Fruit flies as natural genetically modified organisms? (having DNA of another species within) We know that cud chewing animals depend on the organisms in their gut which help them digest plant sources. Do they have bacterial genetic components that have become part of their genome? What about us? Our dogs? To what extent are we genetically modified in this way?

Another thing to look into regarding environmental influence on our genes is Comet Tail analysis, which gives some indication of how environment in the form of foods, drugs, pollution, and even FDA approved (Generally Recognized as Safe, GRAS) additives in our consumables affect the integrity of DNA in specific organs. Here's an example of comet tail analysis regarding the effect of phthalate on human sperm. How much of that sperm is still viable? I'm sure some of it may be damaged enough to die, but how much of it will bring new or damaging genetic information to a baby?

Pic at left from MSNBC article linked below - from Oct 2004 Nature.
I think that a lot of this is very important but the main thing to take away from all this is that our genes are not hard coded functional entities. They are dynamic and responsive to the environment. Why we don't have considerably more genes than a fruit fly probably has more to do with the complexities of the bulk of genetic exchange which occurs in our bodies through our lives, with our guts providing us with much of our immune function. Think of all the junk and medication that exert potential effect on DNA in our gut. They affect metabolism and make unknown changes to our normal flora. Speaking of normal flora, another favorite bookmark I often share is the fermentation page of Healing Crow which offers a lot of food for thought in the care of our normal flora and also discusses its importance.

Our genes seem to function in a manner similar to software in a computer. The ability of our genetic software to interpret internal and environmental data, to rebound from trauma and stress, and to find resources in order to generate pathways in order to survive, or simply to fail, are complicated and dynamic adaptations.

I'm baffled by this quote right at the end of this MSNBC article last year. Lander said he’s not concerned that the number of human genes has turned out to be so limited. “To the contrary, I think it’s great news,” he said, “because what it means is we already know a lot about most human genes.” I think I'll just chalk it up to an awkward closing to the article.

While we do have clear understanding of the exact number of chromosomes there are in different species, the actual numbers of different genes counted per species will continue to change. In part, due to refinement in how and which genes are counted, and how genes which are 'countable' are defined. (protein coding only? microRNA and apparently meaningless SNPs, etc - I think a lot of what has been called junk DNA may make some differences in disease resistance or survival as it relates to genetic diversity, but what do I know?) See Human Genome Project Information.

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 1/24/2008 02:06:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Cold Spot" Turns out to be an Enormous Hole in the Universe

This report from University of Minnesota astronomers (UofM link of press release) heralds discovery of "an enormous hole in the Universe, nearly a billion light-years across, empty of both normal matter such as stars, galaxies and gas, as well as mysterious, unseen “dark matter.” While earlier studies have shown holes, or voids, in the large-scale structure of the Universe, this new discovery dwarfs them all."

The 'bullhorn' illustration at the top is from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory website. The black 'nucleus' in the bull horn image is the big hole. The graphic gives perspective on how the information from radio waves of the earthbound VLA Sky Survey (seen in blue square above) combined with microwave energy reported (from space by) the WMAP Spacecraft (the orange square) have both, using different perspectives, helped to locate this enormous hole devoid of any dust/matter in our universe.

A Void Within the Void -- Berardelli 2007 (824): 1 -- ScienceNOW-
A team from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, had been studying data from the Very Large Array Sky Survey, which is mapping the entire universe with radio waves. The team members focused on one part of the survey where the temperature of the CMB is lower than normal [the blue gap on the psychedelic looking pic]. This cooling is significant because interactions with both visible and dark matter warm the CMB slightly, and so the team suspected that matter [in the cold spot] was absent.

[NOTE: CMB is Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation - source WMAP NASA site:
WMAP timeline theory
"The CMB radiation was emitted only a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, long before stars or galaxies ever existed. Thus, by studying the detailed physical properties of the radiation, we can learn about conditions in the universe on very large scales, since the radiation we see today has traveled over such a large distance, and at very early times."]
Further observations of the zone, located between 6 billion and 10 billion light-years away, revealed it to be not only devoid of galaxies but also about a billion light-years wide, the team will report in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal. "What we're suggesting is that there is no matter in this void, either normal or dark," says radio astronomer and co-author Lawrence Rudnick.

dark energy chart
The pie chart shows the generally accepted proportions of three components of our universe.
EDIT/added - Aug 31
- Pie chart above and previous cylindrical image are from the previously mentioned WMAP site where interesting graphics and other info can be found. Content of the Universe-WMAP data reveals that its contents include 4% atoms, the building blocks of stars and planets. Dark matter comprises 22% of the universe. This matter, different from atoms, does not emit or absorb light. It has only been detected indirectly by its gravity. 74% of the Universe, is composed of "dark energy", that acts as a sort of an anti-gravity. This energy, distinct from dark matter, is responsible for the present-day acceleration of the universal expansion.

Concluding that the zone is free of dark matter might be premature, cautions astrophysicist Harvey Tananbaum of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Making that determination is difficult and will require confirmation, he says. Meanwhile, cosmologist Paul Davies of Arizona State University in Tempe says the discovery is "potentially very important" for testing theories about the very early universe. The potential deviation from the inflation model is "a tantalizing pointer to some new physics at the dawn of existence."

To read more about current study of the Universe and the BIG BANG theory as these have been modified with recent information from WMAP, go here.

A funny quote from Wired's version of this story: Retired NASA astronomer Steve Maran said of the discovery: "This is incredibly important for something where there is nothing to it." :D

Now for something a little more down to earth.
Science News
has an article on a virus that seems to have some correlation with obesity in some people.
Magdalena Pasarica of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who led the new work, stresses that obesity has many causes, including genetic factors, overeating, and a sedentary lifestyle. In some people, however, adenovirus-36 may be the culprit, she says. Adenoviruses cause colds, but adenovirus-36, apparently, does more.

In a 2005 study of 502 obese and normal-weight people, researchers reported that 30 percent of the obese group showed signs of previous adenovirus-36 infection, while only 11 percent of the lean group did. ...see Science News article above
I think this has the potential to tie in very easily (so far) with issues of epigenetics/nutrigenetics. The genetic factor seems to be that when certain triggers reach a threshold in individuals, who have lost certain protective alleles (which can make them a genetic variant), various degenerative cascades have the potential to happen in that population. A very interesting article I have bookmarked from The Scientist tends to go offline occasionally, so here is cache link to --

Eat Your Way To Better DNA
Why what your grandmother ate while pregnant with your mother might affect your children's health, and other findings from the growing field of nutrigenomics. By KATE TRAVIS

incubatorAnd next this piece from The Scientist is interesting to me, has to do with certain receptors of bacteria being sensitive to light, and this factor having something to do with changes in potential virulence.

It actually makes a lot of sense since it seems many living organisms from plants and even larger complex animals have responses to various wavelengths of light in our environment.

I never gave much thought to lighting for the bugs we grew in the various incubators and our tests were pretty standardized anyway, growing critters that preferred dark places in humans. Even the few incubators with small clear panels at the door seemed minutely important to me, just a way to see how full an incubator might be, and what might be in there without opening the door and letting the warm air out. We always had the lights off in microbiology lab if no one were in there doing stuff anyway. The heat in a laboratory in general can get pretty stuffy due to all the fridges, centrifuges, incubators and analyzers, etc. You can't use a fan due to potential biohazardous aerosol. Air conditioning is nice but is not always very efficient in rooms full of machinery.

EDIT: 25 Aug - Yeegads, had lots of trouble with internet connection lately, add on Blogger/FTP has been temperamental for the past day. grrrr...

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 8/24/2007 10:12:00 PM | Permanent link | (4) Comments

Blogger Diane sent us a woof // August 27, 2007

On a related note, have you tried Google Sky yet? It's part of the new version of Google Earth. Good for many hours of universe-browsing. Because of course that's what I should be doing with my time. :/   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // August 28, 2007

LOL, like I need more encouragement!!   

Blogger vrtulobjeq sent us a woof // August 31, 2007

That pie chart is rather daunting, ie to think that our visible universe just totals 4&, you sure about that ?   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // August 31, 2007

vrtulobjeq asks about the pie chart...
According to the WMAP project, this is the data they have so far. You can see images that we can all use from their project here.

I should update and post the text that goes along with that image, had connection problems that day as previously noted. Thanks for the visit and the point!
Content of the Universe

WMAP data reveals that its contents include 4% atoms, the building blocks of stars and planets. Dark matter comprises 22% of the universe. This matter, different from atoms, does not emit or absorb light. It has only been detected indirectly by its gravity. 74% of the Universe, is composed of "dark energy", that acts as a sort of an anti-gravity. This energy, distinct from dark matter, is responsible for the present-day acceleration of the universal expansion.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bully Whippet Genetics

A Bully Whippet - Above, this is Wendy. She has two copies of a double muscling phenotype.

A racing whippet

Whippets are sometimes used in racing and breeders of these racing whippets found that some successful racing dogs with increased muscling produced progeny with this muscling trait and similar racing success. However, if two carriers of this trait were bred together, these dogs sometimes produced heavily muscled dogs that gave the whippets a "bully" appearance such as that which Wendy has in the top photo.

Breeding chart
Chart I found on The New York Times site. See the whole article at the link at the bottom of this post-

Breeders got together and tested both affected and unaffected dogs to try and find the gene causing these distinctions. It has been found that the wild-type whippet in this case meaning the normal whippet, did not have a copy of this mutation that affects muscling. Intermediate affected dogs, successful racers with more muscling than average, had one copy of this mutated gene. Bully whippets all had a double copy of the gene.

Author Summary
An individual's genetic profile can play a role in defining their natural skills and talents. The canine species presents an excellent system in which to find such associative genes. The purebred dog has a long history of selective breeding, which has produced specific breeds of extraordinary strength, intelligence, and speed. We have discovered a mutation in the canine myostatin gene, a negative regulator of muscle mass, which affects muscle composition, and hence racing speed, in whippets. Dogs that possess a single copy of this mutation are more muscled than normal and are among the fastest dogs in competitive racing events. However, dogs with two copies of the same mutation are grossly overmuscled, superficially resembling double-muscled cattle known to possess similar mutations. This result is the first to quantitatively link a mutation in the myostatin gene to athletic performance. Further, it emphasizes what is sure to be a growing area of research for performance-enhancing polymorphisms in competitive athletics. Future implications include screening for myostatin mutations among elite athletes. However, as little is known about the health issues and potential risks associated with being a myostatin-mutation carrier, research in this arena should proceed with extreme caution.

Some info from the study below...
A Mutation in the Myostatin Gene Increases Muscle Mass and Enhances Racing Performance in Heterozygote Dogs Dana S. Mosher, Pascale Quignon, Carlos D. Bustamante, Nathan B. Sutter, Cathryn S. Mellersh, Heidi G. Parker, Elaine A. Ostrander
National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America, Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America, Animal Health Trust, Center for Preventive Medicine, Newmarket, United Kingdom

Double muscling is a trait previously described in several mammalian species including cattle and sheep and is caused by mutations in the myostatin (MSTN) gene (previously referred to as GDF8). Here we describe a new mutation in MSTN found in the whippet dog breed that results in a double-muscled phenotype known as the “bully” whippet. Individuals with this phenotype carry two copies of a two-base-pair deletion in the third exon of MSTN leading to a premature stop codon at amino acid 313. Individuals carrying only one copy of the mutation are, on average, more muscular than wild-type individuals (p = 7.43 × 10−6; Kruskal-Wallis Test) and are significantly faster than individuals carrying the wild-type genotype in competitive racing events (Kendall's nonparametric measure, τ = 0.3619; p ≈ 0.00028). These results highlight the utility of performance-enhancing polymorphisms, marking the first time a mutation in MSTN has been quantitatively linked to increased athletic performance.

The wide variety of behaviors and morphological types exhibited among dog breeds and the overall low genetic diversity within each breed make the dog an excellent genetic system for mapping traits of interest. Recently, owners of whippets, an established racing-dog breed, have reported a phenotype of heavy muscling occurring within the breed ( The typical whippet is similar in conformation to the greyhound, a medium-sized sighthound, weighing about 9 kg and characterized by a slim build, long neck, small head, and pointed snout. OverbiteHeavily muscled dogs, termed “bully” whippets by breeders, have broad chests and unusually well-developed leg and neck musculature. “Bully” whippets are easily distinguished from their normal littermates based on physical appearance alone. Owners report that “bully” whippets do not have any health abnormalities other than muscle cramping in the shoulder and thigh. However, the dogs are often euthanized at an early age as they do not conform to the American Kennel Club breed standard. In addition, about 50% of “bully” whippets have a distinctive overbite. [see pic on right]
To see the paper on this study, go here.

Normal muscling
Normal whippet - "wild type"

Intermediate muscling
Intermediate whippet - One copy of the mutation

Double muscling
Bully whippet - Two copies of the mutation, 50% have overshot muzzle

It is interesting that half of the Bully Whippets have the upper mandible so long as it is.

Related article:
As Breeders Test DNA, Dogs Become Guinea Pigs - New York Times


Semavi Lady woofed at @ 6/12/2007 02:10:00 PM | Permanent link | (7) Comments

Anonymous very_vizsla sent us a woof // June 13, 2007

at first, i thought that the top pic was photoshopped. i really thought that it was a goof! i'm fascinated with genetics & took it as a minor in my biology degree. it's interesting that the gene that gives the 'bully' appearance also makes the lower jaw shorter. thank-you for posting such an interesting article!   

Blogger jamminwhippets sent us a woof // June 18, 2007

This is a very interesting topic, we'll be learning more about this in the future I hope. There are two corrections I'm sure you will be interested to note. A whippet that has one copy of the myostatin gene is undistinguishable from one that hase none. Some are well muscled, some are tiny and not overly muscled. You can NOT tell by looking. That is what makes it so important for us to find a test for the gene. Another important note; breeders are NOT euthanizing any Double muscled pups because of their looks. Whippets with two copies of the Myostatin gene have mild to severe cramping...the ones with severe cramping can be very painful, and they cramp even at rest or while sleeping.   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // June 18, 2007

Thanks jammin, I read those comments too. The dogs with one copy of the gene are still phenotypically variable.

I'm really curious about the double muscling having a correlation with the overbite (or shortened lower jaw). If its cause is somewhat mechanical -- eg, does it have something to do with muscle activity (cramping? spasticity?) in cheek muscles causing shortening of the lower jaw. Or is it perhaps due to some cross loci effect (epistasis? hypostasis?) that is enabled when there are two copies of the mutation?   

Anonymous Anonymous sent us a woof // January 23, 2008

that is amazing i quoted you hope you dont mind –kk   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // January 23, 2008

kk, thanks for visiting! :)   

Blogger rican sent us a woof // July 15, 2008

i was wondering if this would be posible in getting a "bully" American pit bull? if anyone knows the answer please repost thanks   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // July 15, 2008

Rican, the issue in whippets is due to a mutation in the breed, and is associated with other issues of health in the breed as well.

Mutations are not always straight forward -- a protein that codes for more muscle can have some regulatory effect on the skeletal structure (in whippets, it creates a form of malocclusion, abnormal jaw alignment, as described) and mutations can affect endocrinology, muscle endurance, temperament, survival of the fetus, and other things. Mutations can be very unpredictable and can sometimes have serious undesired effects.   

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Researchers Identify Gene Involved in Dog Size

Dog sizes
According to the photo database, that's a Chihuahua(?) and an Irish Wolfhound

Researchers identify gene involved in dog size (Check out the article)
"An international team led by researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has identified a genetic variant that is a major contributor to small size in dogs. The findings appear in the April 6, 2007 issue of the journal Science.

“The identification and characterization of a key genetic variant that accounts for differences in dog size is particularly exciting because the underlying gene is present in all dogs and other diverse species, including humans,” said Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director of the NHGRI Division of Intramural Research. “Discoveries like this illustrate the exciting promise of genomics research for understanding the inheritance of a wide range of traits, including those that have an impact on health and disease.”"


Semavi Lady woofed at @ 4/07/2007 08:12:00 AM | Permanent link | (2) Comments

Blogger carina sent us a woof // April 08, 2007

That is an absolutely hysterical photo! Good article too. Implications for cancer control in humans....
I don't know how to put hyperlinks in comments, but here's a photo of Cooper (100lbs, give or take) and Mikey (2.5lbs, I think.)
Happy easter!   

Blogger Semavi Lady sent us a woof // April 09, 2007

Funny! Mikey is tiny if he's that small. Wow! Nice complement of tanpoints :)

If Mikey had more hair and drop ears, he could be a toy version of Cooper. LOL   

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Getting Close to Four Weeks - Puppies!

Tail up!

Tails up! Darth waiting for little sister, Spot, to make up her mind and step into the dog house.
Note her tail is up and is around his left ear. :)
Wednesday, an almost sunny day outside, a great day to get them introduced to these new things. (Wednesday: increasing overcast and windy, with sprinkles later. But Thursday -- Rain!)

They are growing by the hour it seems. Their personalities are emerging now. Several pups seem to be on one or any of the other sides of the personality continuum now. The small girl "Spot" tends to be most alert and reactive and comes moving quickly to see about any new thing she sees or hears, pretty bold, not much backing away there. The boys generally seem pretty laid back right now compared to Spot! ("oh, what's that? big deal... zzzzz")

They all carry their tails high in the air when walking and waggle them rapidly when greeting me or another canine. They are starting to play rougher. They have pointy fangs! No longer mere speedbumps in their gumline! They love being cuddled and snuggled and gosh their fur is so soft. They are just about the epitome of cuteness now.

There are amusing small scale rank and order squabbles but their attention spans are so short that after a few seconds, they are sleeping in a heap again. :rotfl:

Their claws are very sharp, like kittens! I've trimmed the pointy ends that have started scratching Zor (Mom). They also 'nurse' (no milk) on their sister Ruya, but she doesn't seem to be near as sore and tender to their scratches and grabs as their mother is.

If they have a reason to, they climb out of the wading pool and walk around following whomever, especially their mom or myself. Not all are as easily motivated to climb out, but they definitely all surge toward Zor when she comes in the door and peeks into the pool. They are good at this climbing out business if Mom's just out of reach, and for the same reason are getting good at popping back into the pool too if Mom curls up in there. You can see they are already thinking, what's in it for me, before they do something - if it's Mom and they're hungry... LOOK OUT! Gangway! :)

Adventure! Now I can open the front door and sit outside and call "Puppy! Puppy!", and they eventually all come stepping outside past the front door to explore -- or to have some chow (easier to clean up if they eat outside). After they eat, they need to pee and poop and so they wander sniffing around for a few steps (not too many yet) looking for places to do this. They are not very good at this yet and will still be learning and developing muscle control at 8 weeks and a bit longer in some cases (they can't hold it very long). After that business is done, it's time to play or take a nap. B)

Check out the gruel, man!
Mmm, what's this? One of their first baby gruels fed in the wading pool.
Rice baby cereal, cottage cheese, goat milk, water, some raw egg yolk (no white) and a little bit of soft puppy chow.
Clockwise from top: Spot, Neil, Mr. T, Darth

Darth and Choco. Full tummies and a little bit sticky and wet.

When they are tired and relaxed they tend to become "jelly legs" again. They waddle on their bellies like little crocodiles, sometimes at high speed! But when out of their nest and on the hard floor, they are increasingly sure footed!

Good to the last drop!
Neil (Diamond) at the top (back for seconds), J in the glass pan, and Batman making sure the puppy gruel is finished. I hoped to catch a pic of J falling asleep in the pan, but no luck. She got up and waddled a few steps away, peed then joined a few littermates to mouth each other a bit, then snooze in a slightly wet, sticky mess. :p

Big time puppy pan
Nummy puppy chow in larger quantities!
Softened solid food (this is Iams Puppy formula).
Zor's nosetip on the right.

Darth chewing on Ruya's neck when she drops in for a visit to help clean the babies up after a meal.

Darth and sleepy Neil at the top. From the bottom: Spot, Batman, Choco, J, and T
Spot, Choco and J are the girls. That's Ruya enjoying them.
You can see how their coats are lightening. Multicolor hairs are growing in length and coming out under the dark coats they were born with.

Wednesday I invited them to come outside for a while to socialize with the world so the puppies explored one of the smaller dog houses in the yard.

Above: Neil cutie in the dog house. (3.5 weeks)
Spots of pigment continue to fill in his nose leather and white nose marking, causing the white or pink areas to shrink.
Neil at three days. Eyes and ears sealed to the world.

Spots of color come through on the white areas of the paws. These spots are called a 'ticking' trait and the trait is dominant.
In adults, sometimes the spots are almost unnoticeable in some leg areas as the coat fades to pale yellow. Sometimes the dog also has flashy black borders between the yellow coat and the white markings, then some of these speckles will be black. Anatolians are not normally heavily 'ticked' or speckled.

On the muzzle if the dog has a white marking like a blaze, sometimes you'll see black or colored freckles there -- as the black mask color under the white markings shows through in these peekaboo spots. These freckles are really cute on puppies.

Ruya closeup
This pic is an enlargement detail of the pic below. You can see the black 'sailing' on Ruya. This is a closeup of her shoulder hair (top of withers). Almost none of her coat hairs are solid colored except for the black sailing. The yellow hairs in her coat have bands of color, as many as five or more from root to hair tip on the longer hairs. Within each shaft of hair as it grows, different densities of pigment fill the cortex of each hair - this is the nature of the agouti trait seen in sable colored dogs. Some areas of grayish, some white, some tan/yellow, some black... alternating in patterns, all the way up each shaft of hair. Some hairs having brownish tips or black looking tips, or sometimes white tips. On areas such as her flanks, she has two tone hair, sort of white and pale yellow, root to tip.

Further away
In this picture, you can see the lighter roots, graduating to a darker middle (looks black), shifting to pale yellow band, and even paler tips although some tips are a bit brownish. Boone, my male is a bit darker than my girls. He has some areas in his coat where some of his yellow hairs have more than one black band on them. His coat is a bit shorter than on Zor and Ruya.

Thursday it was raining off and on. The puppies did go outside for one feeding of their gruel and seemed to enjoy the outside more this time, lingering and checking more things out, since it is becoming more familiar to them.

I think I tried to reassure some people that I haven't been abducted by aliens. But maybe I have. They are really cute!

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Semavi Lady woofed at @ 11/02/2006 11:16:00 PM | Permanent link | (0) Comments