Epigenetics – Shape Shifting Our Puppy’s Genes

As most of us know, breeding dogs (or any animal for that matter) is considered to be a combination of art and science; if we were to ignore the art factor, we would be robbing ourselves of the enjoyment of creativity. If we were to ignore the science factor, we would be quite foolish. If we really want to be an accomplished and reputable dog breeder, and leave our chosen breed in better genetic shape than when we began breeding, then we need to pay attention to advances in scientific knowledge such as epigenetics. It’s about shape shifting our puppy’s genes!

One of the most facinating and important recent advances in the science of breeding is the understanding that inheritance is much more about epigenetics, than genetics. Epigenetics by the way, refers to those variables that are over or “on top of” genetics (epi is from the Greek, for “over, outside of, on top of”).

We now know that not every gene is “turned on” in every individual or are they turned on at all times in the life of an individual. We also know that genes that are turned on or off may be passed to offspring in that same fashion.

The expression and action of genes in our dog’s genetic code depends on variables such as diet, vaccines, exposure to toxins, and even how a puppy is raised before leaving the breeder!

How exciting and wonderful it is to know that genes interact with environmental forces, not the least of which are nutrients that are absorbed during gestation and growth. As not only being breeders but Natural Rearing Breeders, epigentic studies have proven that early environmental influences can determine the difference between a dog that shows like he owns the ground he stands on and the dog that’s such a goof ball that you need to take Xanax and a have a good insurance policy just to get into the ring to show him.

The study of environmental influence on genetic expression is still in it’s infancy, but there’s overwhelming evidence that early experiences and input can effect the way genes play out. But that’s not even the beginning of the story.Genes, which many people think of as written in stone, can switch on and off or express themselves very differently depending on environmental influences. Thus, the same gene can express itself as a negative trait or a positive trait, depending on environmental input, especially very early in life. ~ Jane Killion

Jane Killion, director of the film: “Puppy Culture – The Critial First 12 Weeks That Can Shape Your Puppies Future” has written a great article titled Shape Shifting Genes that I know you will enjoy reading.