February 9, 2013

The Genetics of Canine Skull Shape Variation

A dog’s craniofacial diversity is the result of continual human intervention in natural selection, a process that began tens of thousands of years ago. To date, we know little of the genetic underpinnings and developmental mechanisms that make dog skulls so morphologically plastic. In this Perspectives, we discuss the origins of dog skull shapes in terms of history and biology and highlight recent advances in understanding the genetics of canine skull shapes. Of particular interest are those molecular genetic changes that are associated with the development of distinct breeds.