Genetic characterization, at the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA levels, of five Canary Island dog breeds

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Many studies presenting genetic analysis of dog breeds have been conducted without the inclusion of island dog breeds, although isolation can be one of the main factors in their origin. Here we report the genetic analysis at the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA levels of five Canary Island dog breeds (Canarian Warren Hound, Canary Island Mastiff, Garafiano Shepherd, La Palma Rat-Hunter and El Hierro Wolfhound) to fill this gap and, at the same time, genetically characterize these breeds. We identified 168 alleles in autosomal microsatellites and 16 mitochondrial haplotypes. Observed and expected heterozygosities ranged from 0.556 to 0.783 and from 0.737 to 0.943 respectively. Furthermore, three haplotypes were newly described and exclusive to a particular breed (A17+ in the Canary Island Mastiff; A33+ in the Canarian Warren Hound; Bi in the La Palma Rat-Hunter). The outcome of our analyses also revealed different breed histories consistent with historical documents and hypothetical origin designations. Although mtDNA haplotypes showed poor breed discriminating power, autosomal markers allowed a clear clustering of each single population. We expect that our results, together with further analyses, will help to make the population histories of island dog breeds clearer.

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