Genetic diversity in shelter dogs offers a new perspective on the implications of breed labels, ASU study finds
Imagine meeting a potential roommate for coffee but instead of questions that gauge how compatible you both would be living together, you were asked about the ancestry of your parents’ families. Though this situation seems ridiculous, it happens all the time in animal shelters where dogs are assigned breeds that are often just guessed from their physical appearance. These breed assignments are then used to infer how the dogs might behave and also often impact the length of time a dog waits to be adopted.
The first step to understanding how breed labels might affect shelter dogs is to identify who shelter dogs actually are, and researchers in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology have done just that. The ASU scientists genotyped shelter dogs in Arizona and California and compared the genetic information to the breed labels assigned in shelters. The findings were published Aug. 23 in PLOS ONE.
Canine cheek swabs
Who are shelter dogs? To answer this question, ASU’s Canine Science Collaboratory researchers Lisa Gunter and Clive Wynne collected DNA from over 900 shelter dogs housed at the Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL) in Phoenix and the San Diego Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SDHS) in San Diego.
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