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Study on Dog Genome proves that Kelb tal-Fenek is not of ancient Egyptian origin

The breeds Kelb tal-Fenek and Podenco Ibicenco are not as old as they were thought to be. This fact results from a study on the dog genome , which was published in May 2004 by scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle (USA). 

Genetic samples out of 85 breeds of purebred dogs were investigated during this study, which was carried out with support of the American Kennel Club (AKC). The scientists hope that the analysis will deliver important results which might help fight against human diseases. As the institute reports on its website, at least half of more than 300 inherited canine disorders - including a variety of cancers - resemble specific diseases of man.  

"There are more than 400 breeds of dogs, and each is an isolated breeding population," said Dr. Elaine Ostrander from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in an interview with the magazine “Science”, which was published in May 21, 2004. "This allows us to simplify a complicated genetic problem”. 

An interesting side-effect of this study is that it helps to disprove some popular myths: For example, the Kelb tal-Fenek, as well as the Podenco Ibicenco, were found not to be so old, as it has been supposed for a long time. Because of their resemblance to dogs depicted on ancient Egyptian tombs, they had been considered among the oldest of breeds. However, their genes indicate they have been developed in more recent times, the researchers said. Consequently, it can be said that the theory of the Egyptian origin of this breeds definitely has no scientific foundation. 

The researchers identified two branches of the canine family tree which were the earliest to diverge from the wolves. One branch includes the Asian breeds Shar-Pei, Shiba Inu, Chow Chow and Akita; the other the seemingly diverse breeds of African Basenji, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Afghan Hound and Saluki. 

Later, the majority of canines evolved into three other clusters of dog variants as a result of human breeding activities - hunters, herders and guard dogs. 

Some breeds show very similar genetics: Belgian Sheepdog and Belgian Tervuren, which are registered as separate breeds within the AKC, are virtually identical. Besides these two breeds, the study also showed five pairs of breeds with very similar genetics: Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky, Collie and Shetland Sheepdog, Greyhound and Whippet, Bernese Mountain Dog and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and Bull Mastiff and Mastiff. Only four breeds failed to show consistent sets of genes in common. They were the Perro de Presa Canario, German Shorthaired Pointer, Australian Shepherd and Chihuahua.

The complete study for download:

Jan Scotland