From Affenpinscher to Zweigenpinscher...we offer over 100 different dog breed labels for NOSE BUTTER® and are rapidly approaching that number on some of the other products.
Many a marketing expert has contacted me to pitch their services to help grow the NOSE BUTTER® empire (as the husband calls it). Inevitably every one of them asks, "Why do all the dog breeds? Why not just have one label with a dog nose on it."
I sigh and try to explain to them the huge diversity in dog breeds and how amazing it is that human beings have tweaked canine DNA to make dogs look so different. Uh, I do not want to sound like some mad scientist who escaped from a SciFi movie...but think about it! With a minimal knowledge of actual genetics people have bred dogs to fill their needs for over 15,000 years.
Ever since dogs split from wolves, humankind has wanted a dog that was bigger, smaller, fluffier, taller, longer, and every imaginable color combination. Talk about diversity!
Back in the early dog breeding day, people pretty much just bred dogs to hunt and guard. Adaptations for the climate and geographical area shaped the decisions made. For example, the Tibetan Mastiff is a huge guarding dog with a very thick coat, which is needed to withstand the harsh Tibetan weather. The Saluki has a much closer coat and was bred to run across the desert sands in the heat. The difference in body types is evident.
As our world became more industrialized and the middle and upper classes developed. When more people did not have to physically toil to survive, companion and toy dogs began to be bred.
Toy Dogs were specifically bred to be a loving companion and often to look like human babies. For example, in Victorian England a very flat-faced look was desired in dogs. Many breeds were bred to Japanese Chin, Pekingese and Pugs to shorten the face.
Also, canine genetics is relatively easy to work with compared to many other species. In dogs, ONE genetic variation controls the type of coat and shape and size of ears. In people every single characteristic like hair color or eye color is controlled by a complex genetic map.
CanMap, a mind-boggling research project actually determined that all, as in EVERY, factor that changes how dogs look (ears, coat type, color) are controlled by one of only 50 different genetic combinations. (science stuff is below)
There is a dog breed for every preference, every climate, every lifestyle, every imaginable desire! Plus, we have the dazzling array of fabulous mixes!
In answer to the question...WHY SO MANY DOG BREED LABELS? I say this.
BROAD INSTITUTE Dog Genome Project
The CanMap Project: Population Genetics and Whole Genome Association Mapping of Morphological and Behavioral Differences among Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris) Breeds. C.D. Bustamante1, T. Spady2, H.G. Parker2, B. vonHoldt2,3, K. Bryc1, M.H. Wright1, N.B. Sutter2, A. Reynolds1, A.R. Boyko1, M. Castelhano1, E. Wang4, K. Zhao1,5, G. Johnson6, M. Nordborg5, R.K. Wayne3, M. Cargill4, E.A. Ostrander2 1) Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; 2) NHGRI/NIH, Bethesda, MD; 3) UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; 4) Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA; 5) U. Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; 6) U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO.
Domestic dog breeds exhibit great variation in behavior and morphology among breeds and low phenotypic and genetic diversity within breeds, making the dog an excellent genetic system for mapping traits of interest.
Here, we present population genetic analyses and preliminary results for simultaneous whole-genome association mapping of morphological and behavioral trait differences among breeds using a panel of 1,000 dogs from 80 breeds genotyped on the Affymetrix Canine Array v.2.0 (~100,000 SNP). Population genetic analyses reveal clear genetic clustering of dogs into breeds with well defined boundaries, and shallow clustering of breeds into higher order groups. We use fine-scale recombination rate estimates across the genome to identify regions of unusually high linkage-disequilibrium within a breed, which may identify recent targets of selection during breed formation.
We also estimate the domestication bottleneck size for dog as well as breed-specific bottleneck and inbreeding rates which account for dramatic differences in effective population size among popular breeds.
Using a mapping strategy that accounts for expected high genetic relatedness within a breed, we aim to identify regions of the dog genome associated with skeletal conformation, hair pigmentation and texture, and behavioral trait differences including: body size, foreshortened limbs, foreshortened face, compact face and cranimum, proportional dwarfism, wire hair, curly hair, corded coat, face mask color, and prey drive.
For several traits, overlying “peaks” of association with signatures of selection allows us to refine our signals to a just a few candidate genes. The approach we employ replicates previously identifies gene-trait association, including the link between IGF1 and body size.