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Genes of a Guide Dog

A new study aims to examine the genetics of successful guide dogs, Wired reports.

Guide dogs, it notes have to have the right temperament as well as be large enough to pull those they are guiding away from danger, but still fit into public spaces. At the same time, guide dogs must be healthy — but many dogs harbor genetic diseases that could make them less than ideal guide dogs, Wired notes.

Tom Lewis, head of canine genetics at Guide Dogs in the UK, tells it that he and his colleagues are collecting whole-genome data for 3,000 of the dogs they have bred to analyze in conjunction with the data they have on them to home in on genes linked to disease and behavior. It adds that the group has so far collected DNA samples from 400 dogs.

The hope, Wired says, is for the group to not only be able to then breed dogs who are more likely to pass their training program, but also better match owners' needs to an appropriate guide dog, as Lewis notes that "not every guide dog owner is going to be exactly the same."