Not only beautiful …….

……. but also intelligent.

There is something about a Huskie that takes one’s breath away. Not only because of the grace and wit with which they conduct their lives but also because the majority of them are working dogs.

So it was with interest that I read recently about the Huskies and wanted to share it with you all.

Here it is.

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Why do huskies have blue eyes?

New genetic study finally solves the mystery.

BRYAN NELSON,   October 4, 2018.

A happy husky with its characteristic blue eyes. (Photo: Nancy Wong/Wiki Commons)

A dog DNA startup company called Embark, based out of Boston, Massachusetts, and Ithaca, New York, appears to have finally solved the mystery as to why huskies sport their beautiful blue eyes. The study is the first consumer genomics study ever conducted in a non-human model, as well as the largest canine genome-wide association study to date, reports Phys.org.

The key, it turns out, lies in the dogs’ 18th chromosome. A duplication on chromosome 18, near the ALX4 gene, was found to be strongly associated with blue eye color. The ALX4 gene plays an important role in mammalian eye development, so this association is not entirely out of left field. And interestingly, the study also found this same genetic quirk in non-merle Australian shepherds, which also tend to have blue eyes.

This flies in the face of how eye color is usually thought to be determined in dogs. For instance, two genetic variants are known to underlie blue eye color in many dogs, but scientists have long known that these variants do not explain the blue eyes of huskies, thus the mystery.

In fact, even though we’re seemingly in a genomic scientific age, the genetic underpinnings of many traits in non-human animals are still largely unknown, even for humans’ best friends. Embark aims to change that.

For the study, which was performed in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, researchers used a diverse panel of 6,070 genetically tested dogs, with owners who contributed phenotype data — physical traits of the dogs — via web-based surveys and photo uploads. A comprehensive, consumer-driven survey of this size is largely unprecedented.

“Using genetic data from the pets of our customers, combined with eye colors reported by customers for those same animals, we have discovered a genetic duplication that is strongly associated with blue eye color. This study demonstrates the power of the approach that Embark is taking towards improving canine health,” explained Aaron J. Sams of Embark. “In a single year, we collected enough data to conduct the largest canine study of its kind. Embark is currently pursuing similar research projects in a range of morphological and health-related traits and we hope to continue to use our platform to move canine genetics and health forward in a very real way.”

It’s all in the name of improved health care options for our canine companions, as well as helping curious human owners better understand the origins of their pets. Answering why huskies have blue eyes is just the first such mystery they hope to solve.

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What can one say! They are such beautiful dogs!

10 thoughts on “Not only beautiful …….

  1. I would imagine that blue eyes in dogs tend to (historically) occur in dogs bred in Northern climates. People with blue eyes and fair hair traditionally came from polar regions in Northern Europe. The anomalies occur where migrations occurred long ago, (such as in the case of blue-eyed, blonds in Northern Turkey).

    Blue eyes and fair hair occur genetically in areas that experience long months of darkness in the winter. The lack of sunlight for six months of the year has resulted in a lightening of skin, hair, and eye colour.
    Huskies are naturally predisposed to dark, cold conditions. When I see them in the tropics I feel sorry for them because their genetic makeup is not able to compensate enough for heat. Most look hot and miserable.

    1. I agree about them looking hot and bothered Colette.. One of Our neighbour’s had one on a whim from his wife for a major birthday.. It was a puppy and beautiful but they neither had time to exercise it, So it howled most of the day…
      Thankfully they both saw sense and sold it on to someone who already knew how to look after this type of dog.. I am sure it is now grown and much happier..
      Often in a park near by these dog owners meet up, with their dogs and running reins on tied around their waists.. Its a joy to see they doing what they are bred to do,, Work and run… pulling, if only their owners around.. 🙂 who have all on holding them back.. ..
      🙂

    2. PS… I am convinced that genetics play a big part, but anomalies in that code can throw out some odd things, as can genetic conditions. I was a fair, blue-eyed, slightly auburn haired person all my life. Aging did not produce grey hair for me. Much to my sister’s disgust, I have turned blond instead. I have no idea why, but I have read that it can be due to a missing enzyme. Who knew?

      1. Colette and Sue, thank you for your long and very interesting comments. Very interesting indeed! I don’t have the same level of knowledge to be able to add anything to what you say, except thank you!

  2. An interesting post on the origins of their eye colour Paul. And I found Colette’s take on it interesting too. 🙂 ❤ Hope all is well with you and Jean Paul, Sending you both my well wishes and good to catch up with you again my friend. ❤

  3. A fascinating study. I wonder if that company will look into other breeds that have blue eyes dogs (i.e. Old English Sheepdogs where often times two blue eyes seems to correlate to deafness)? Amazing research.

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