Newswise — The creator of the Australian labradoodle set out to mix poodles and Labrador retrievers to develop a hypoallergic service dog. But, according to a new study by Elaine Ostrander at the National Institutes of Health, published September 10th in PLOS Genetics, the breed that developed from that cross is primarily poodle.

There are about 350 recognized dog breeds in the world today, many resulting from intense breeding programs that unintentionally created dogs at high risk for certain health problems. These high rates of disease were one motivating factor behind crossing two purebred dogs to create so-called “designer breeds,” coupled with the desire to combine positive traits from the parental breeds. The Australian labradoodle is one of the most popular designer breeds, and so researchers analyzed genetic variations at more than 150,000 locations along its genome to understand how the breed has developed over the past 31 years. The findings show that genetically, the Australian labradoodle is mostly poodle, with smaller genetic contributions from the Labrador retriever and certain types of spaniel. Breeders appear to have preferentially chosen dogs with a poodle-like coat, which is associated with what many people consider hypoallergenicity, and without strong preference for specific traits from Labrador retrievers.

The new study demonstrates that changes in very few genes, over a small number of generations, can define a new dog breed. The results of this genetic study may also inform the development of genetic tests that can be incorporated into thoughtful breeding programs to avoid some of the health problems that commonly afflict Australian labradoodles. Currently, Australian labradoodles supporters are lobbying to have the breed officially recognized by an international registry.

#####

 

Funding: This work was funded by the Intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute, grant number ZIA HG200377097, Principal investigator EAO. JME was supported by a Postdoctoral Research Associate Training (PRAT) fellowship from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), award number 1FI2GM133344-01. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

 

Competing Interests: Susan Pearce-Kelling was formally Director, Manager, and partial owner of OptiGen LLC.

 

About PLOS Genetics

PLOS Genetics (https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/) is a peer-reviewed Open Access journal. The journal reflects the full breadth and interdisciplinary nature of genetics and genomics research by publishing outstanding original contributions in all areas of biology. We publish human studies, as well as research on model organisms—from mice and flies, to plants and bacteria. Our emphasis is on studies of broad interest that provide significant insight into a biological process or processes. Topics include (but are not limited to) gene discovery and function, population genetics, genome projects, comparative and functional genomics, medical genetics, disease biology, evolution, gene expression, complex traits, chromosome biology, and epigenetics.

For more information follow @PLOSGenetics on Twitter or contact [email protected].

 

About the Public Library of Science

PLOS is a nonprofit, Open Access publisher empowering researchers to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. We’ve been breaking boundaries since our founding in 2001. PLOS journals propelled the movement for OA alternatives to subscription journals. We established the first multi-disciplinary publication inclusive of all excellent research regardless of novelty or impact, and demonstrated the importance of open data availability. As Open Science advances, we continue to experiment to provide more opportunities, choice, and context for readers and researchers. For more information, visit https://www.plos.org/who-we-are.

 

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY