Bo's DNA Is No Secret to Scientists
Portuguese water dogs are top breed for genetic study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 14, 2009 6:27 AM CDT
This photo provided by the White House shows President Barack Obama welcoming the family's new puppy Bo, at the White House. March 15, 2009.   (AP Photo/Pete Souza, White House)
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(Newser) – The Obama puppy may still be a bit of a mystery to a curious public, but his genetic code should be familiar to scientists: Portuguese water dogs are the top breed for genetic study, helping shed light on anything from how a dog’s size is determined to whether it’s at risk of certain diseases. “Dogs have many of the same diseases that humans have. There is great hope these [findings] will translate to humans,” a researcher tells the Chicago Tribune.

What’s so great about the breed in the eyes of geneticists? They’re all descended from a small pool of 30 dogs, meaning there’s relatively little genetic variation between today’s Porties. At the same time, there’s plenty of physical difference between animals, such as size and color, allowing scientists to study what causes certain differences. The genetic roots of those differences can be key to tracing diseases.