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Scientists Spot Gene That Makes Dog Fur Black!

Stanford University researchers have identified the gene that makes dogs' fur black, and may also shed light on differences in people's body size and ability to cope with stress! The work narrowed the genome region to a gene that makes a beta-defensin protein – one version of this beta-defensin gene produces yellow pups, and another produces black. In fact, all dog coat colors are modifications of black and yellow! A Dalmatian, for example, may appear spotted but, based on genetics, it's considered black.

This project started a couple years ago with Boxers and Great Danes of different colors. Once the genome that differed between them was identified, scientists moved on to 36 other dog breeds, gathering hundreds of cheek swab samples. A human can have between 40 and 50 different defensin genes; dogs can have up to 46. This one is part of the melanocortin pathway – shared by canines and humans – that determines skin and hair color along with weight and stress adaptation.


Join The Conversation
Jivespeaker Jivespeaker 9 years
What kind of dog is that... look very similar to my corso, but it's an odd angle.
chancleta chancleta 9 years
cool i have a black doggy and thoroughly enjoyed this piece thanks petsugar!
tawvry tawvry 9 years
I think Polar Bears are like that too... black skin with "white fur"... although I think the white fur is actually clear and it reflects the snow. that's what I've heard at least. Petsugar, please keep up with the scientific stories! I love em!
MamaD MamaD 9 years
That's interesting......But my sister in law has a Labradoodle that has black skin and white fur!!!!! How exactly does that work???
veside veside 9 years
Finally we know why I look the way I do!! :-)
james-bond-girl james-bond-girl 9 years
Oh man I hope they don't start making it possible for people to get really picky about the colors of their puppy.
Angelica Angelica 9 years
This is really crazy and awesome in terms of scientific research. I wonder if it's just another step toward designer/clone dogs?
SummerBaby SummerBaby 9 years
thats awesome! i love black dogs! i dunno whY! lol and white! those are my colors! :)
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Very neat news!!!
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