Short-Legs of Dachshunds Help Study of Dwarfism
Posted on July 29, 2009 by Nancy Houser
After the ancestor of modern dog breeds began and dog health began to be researched, a single genetic mutation was found in the evolution of short-legged breeds like dachshunds, corgis, or basset hounds. This gene has caused their stubby and curved legs—very distinct from the genes in the popular toy breeds like Chihuahuas or Shih Tzus. This genetic mutation is now thought to play a large role in an evaluational source of diversity within species.
Previous research shows that the short legs of certain dog breeds were a calcification of growth plates, or “disproportional dwarfism.” With humans affected by a growth disorder similar to this, researchers today feels that this particular gene mutation could be further investigated for the study of human dwarfism.
Research in the dog health field indicates the short legs of the little dachshund are due to a single gene developed thousands of years ago. Further research shows that all purebred dogs with short legs carry an extra copy of a gene which codes “for a growth-promoting protein called fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4)”. (The American National Human Genome Research Institute). This gene results in the overproduction of the FGF4 protein, known to switch on growth receptors at the wrong time during the puppy’s foetal development. This has caused the legs to be short and seemingly out of proportion. (Science Daily)
“Our findings may prove valuable to scientists studying other aspects of human growth and development,” said study leader Elaine Ostrander, also of the National Human Genome Research Institute. “The work also underscores the value of canine studies for uncovering new biological mechanisms that are likely relevant to human disease.” (published in the Science journal)
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