|Left - Regular whippet, Right - "Bully" whippet|
Eyebrows were raised once abnormally muscular mutant whippets starting arising in the litters of champion racing whippets. Scientists gathered DNA samples from race meets across the country and found that the oversized or "Bully" whippets have a genetic mutation that enhances muscle development. The mutation was found to be a defective copy of the myostatin gene, which inflates the muscles of some whippets while making others the quickest dogs on the track. Elaine Ostrander, scientist at the National Institutes of Health, discovered that the fastest champion whippets had a single defective copy of the gene, while the "bullies" had two. Breeders are continuing to mate these fast dogs with one another even while knowing that they may have to kill off the unwelcome bullies that will often be produced. Some breeders express that breeding these genetic champions cause a championship to be "less earned", however these whippets are still being judged and raced along with the naturally gifted dogs.
The article also explains how the innovation of genetic testing on dogs is creating a model for scientists to study the unknown consequences that may arise from genetic testing. These models will be beneficial as DNA tests start to become further applied into our society. Not only is genetic selection disturbing the natural biodiversity in some dog breeds, it has also backfired in some ways. For example, since genes are often tied to multiple traits, scientists are finding that genes responsible for coat colors are also causing skin problems. Some positive uses of DNA screening are those that aim at improving health in dogs and also create models for improvement in human health. For example, Dobermans are being screened for a gene responsible for von Willibrand disease, a bleeding disease like hemophilia that also affects humans.
Overall I find it wrong to modify and rid dog breeds based just off of aesthetic and athletic purposes. This is diminishing the creative expression of dogs, killing off breeds, and is truly unnecessary. I think the whippet breeders should no longer be able to purposely breed and cultivate these racing dogs. Dog racing, which I'm not a fan of to begin with, should be left for the naturally gifted dogs to compete in. Mutants shouldn't be knowingly produced and killed either just so dog breeders can win a trophy. Genetic testing on dogs in my opinion is only ethical if it is being done in the name of health and medicine.