[Show/Hide Right Column]

Why Use Dogs to Teach Genetics?

Dogs have been scientific research models for over a century, and part of many critical medical discoveries (such as the discovery of insulin.) It is not too surprising that scientists turned to dogs again to explore mammalian genetics. Work done in the last 20 years has shown that dogs share many gene-related disorders with people. Each breed is a closed reproductive population with distinct rates of heritable diseases, which dramatically increases the odds of finding disease-related loci.

In addition to their scientific value, dogs have several other benefits that genetics teachers will appreciate.

  • Like their scientific name Canis familiaris says, dogs are familiar. We share our homes, our daily lives, and 15,000+ years of history.
  • Traits like leg length, coat length and texture, muscle structure, and others can be scored easily from photos or direct observation.
  • The easily scored alleles have many inheritance patterns: autosomal dominant/recessive, sex-linked hemizygous, codominance, epistasis, gene dosage effects, pleiotropy, and allelic series.
  • Dogs are just as useful for advanced topics, like DNA regulation and mutation mechanisms, medical genomics, population genetics, phylogenetic reconstruction, and quantitative trait loci mapping.
  • Specific proteins and pathways have been identified that determine many of their distinctive physical features. Students can connect molecules directly to genotypes and phenotypes.
  • Class lessons are reinforced every time students walk by a purebred or pet a mixed terrier on campus.
  • Students can contribute their own photos of dogs to the curriculum. The stranger-looking a dog is, the more intriguing the challenge of unraveling its genotypes.


Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can use the materials? Is there a fee?
A: All materials are free for non-commercial use under terms of a Creative Commons 4.0 CC-BY-NC license(external link). They cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Q: How do I download resources?
A: Most resources can be downloaded by right-clicking on the image or file link. To download instructor guides and some other resources, you will need to sign up for a user account. It only takes a minute, and helps us track usage and obtain continued funding. We will not release or use your account information without your permission.

Q: Are there any restrictions on use?
A: We try to use open-licensed materials whenever possible, and provide access to non-Project resources using direct external links. Non-project resources have their own restrictions on use; please contact the original owner for information about any external resources.

Q: I found something on this site that is not correct, or is copyright protected. Who should I inform?
A: We aim to provide accurate data, and do not want to use or provide any materials for which we do not have appropriate permission. If you find anything that is questionable, please contact us immediately. We will re-check it, and correct or remove it as necessary.

Q: Can you send or post PDFs of the research articles?
A: Sorry, but most research articles were published in commercial journals. We cannot post or provide them without paying a license fee. Check with your local college or university library to see if they can provide you with a copy. For articles published in open-access journals we provide a direct link to the journal or database.

Q: I have problems, text, or photos of my own that I would like to share with the Project. How do I assign rights to them?
A: There is a simple procedure for doing this. Go to Digital and Material Rights Assignment to get started.

Page last modified on Tuesday June 30, 2015 15:35:12 EDT