Dog Genome Assembled

The dog is the latest species to have a genome sequenced and assembled. In this case the genome was from an individual Boxer. The sequencing was shotgun from start to finish (no mapping or clone ordering), so once again the basic approach taken by Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome has been validated.

Canine Genome Now Available to Research Community Worldwide

July 14, 2004, Bethesda, MD -- The first draft of the dog genome sequence has been deposited into free public databases for use by biomedical and veterinary researchers around the globe, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today. A team led by Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, and Agencourt Bioscience Corp., Beverly, MA, successfully assembled the genome of the domestic dog ( Canis familiaris). The breed of dog sequenced was the boxer, which was chosen after analyses of 60 dog breeds found it was one of the breeds with the least amount of variation in its genome and therefore likely to provide the most reliable reference genome sequence.

The initial assembly is based on seven-fold coverage of the dog genome. Researchers can access the sequence data through the following public databasesGenBank (http// at NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); EMBL Bank ( at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Nucleotide Sequence Database; and the DNA Data Bank of Japan ( The data can also be viewed through the UCSC Genome Browser ( at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Ensembl Genome Browser ( at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. Viewing capabilities also will be available in August at NCBI's Map Viewer (

The NHGRI-supported researchers are currently comparing the dog and human genome sequences and plan to publish results of their analysis in the next several months. Tasha, the boxer whose DNA was sequenced, is similar in size to the genomes of humans and other mammals, containing approximately 2.5 billion base pairs. Due to a long history of selective breeding, many types of dogs are prone to genetic diseases that are difficult to study in humans, such as cancer, heart disease, deafness, blindness, and autoimmune disorders. In addition, the dog is an important model for the genetics of behavior and is used extensively in pharmaceutical research.

To best characterize disease in dogs, it is important to have a sufficient number of markers in the genome. Therefore, in addition to the boxer, nine other dog breeds, four wolves, and a coyote were sampled to generate markers that can be used in disease studies in any dog breed. A preliminary set of about 600,000 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP's), which amounts to a SNP roughly every 5,000 DNA base pairs, is currently being aligned to the released assembly. The reads used to identify the SNP's are publicly available in NCBI's Trace Archive ( and the SNP's will be available shortly at the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism database, dbSNP (

Sequencing of the dog genome began in June 2003. NHGRI provided about $30 million in funding for the project to the Broad Institute, which is part of NHGRI's Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network. To learn more about the rapidly expanding field of comparative genomic analysis, goto To read the White Paper that outlines the scientific rationale and strategy for sequencing the dog genome, go to A high-resolution photo of Tasha, the boxer whose DNA was sequenced, is available at

NHGRI is one of 27 institutes and centers at NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The NHGRI Division of Extramural Research supports grants for research and for training and career development at sites nationwide. Information about NHGRI can be found at

July 14, 2004, NIH, Bethesda, MD ( Genome News Network) -- Scientists funded by the US National Institutes of Health have completed the genome sequence of a boxer named Tasha and deposited it in an online database to be used by researchers around the world. Although the sequence is available now, it will be several months before the researchers publish an analysis of the dog genome and a side-by-side comparison of the dog and human genomes.

Interest in the dog genome is high because dogs and people get many of the same diseases, including cancer, epilepsy, and heart disease. The genomes of dogs and humans are roughly the same size. Tasha hails from Upstate New York. The boxer was chosen over about 60 other breeds because it has relatively little variation in its DNA, which is a factor in assembling a genome sequence.

The $30 million project began in June 2003 and was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute. The works was carried out at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, and Agencourt Bioscience Corp. in Beverly, MA. In addition to Tasha's DNA, the researchers sequenced stretches of DNA in nine other breeds of dogs, four wolves, and a coyote. They plan to compare these stretches of DNA to pinpoint genes that may cause disease in different breeds of dogs. The boxer sequence is available at the database funded by the NIH, and will be distributed to public databases hosted in Europe and Japan. Tasha is not the only dog to have its genome sequenced. In a separate project three years ago, scientists at Celera Genomics in Rockville, MD, sequenced the genome of a male Standard Poodle named Shadow.