Good news for all dog owners, who can now proudly flaunt their dogs' pedigrees - be they part Labrador, part hound or a dash of Chihuahua. A technique is nearing completion, which will help identify crossbreed origins in the canine population, reported the journal Nature.
A team led by Elaine Ostrander at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle,plans to distinguish dogs by examining landmark regions in their DNA, and the group has already segregated 85 such landmarks in 18 pure breeds of dog, including bulldog and beagle.
A computer analysis revealed that most breeds carry a distinct set of these genetic tags and having been inbred for hundreds or thousands of years, the animals have grown genetically similar. On the basis of the classification, the program analysed DNA from purebred dogs selected randomly and worked out which breed they belonged to.
"It matched them up almost 100% and we hope to be able to identify a mixed breed dog," said team member Heidi Parker at the Genome of Homo Sapiens meeting last week at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York.
Interestingly, domestic dogs, are thought to have been bred from wolves as long as 15,000 years ago and some types have been mated together to create today's 400 breeds. Apart from their distinct shapes and sizes, different breeds are often lumbered with susceptibility to certain diseases.
A project to decipher the entire genetic sequence of the dog should be on its way this month and the dog whose DNA will be honoured, is a particularly inbred boxer called Tasha.