23andme and other genetic testing services have increased in popularity all over the world and now it is also available for dogs. Embark Veterinary Inc., which is a dog DNA startup company, recently tested over 6000 dog’s DNA in order to determine what causes the piercing blue eyes in Siberian Huskies. After analyzing the data, the company discovered that there was a duplication of canine chromosome 18 near the ALX4gene, which is linked to eye development in mammals, was responsible for the breed’s distinctive blue eye color. Two genetic variants were already known to be the source of blue eyes in some breeds but did not explain the blue eye color in Siberian Huskies. This study was the first consumer genetic study done with animals and was also the largest genomic research ever conducted with dogs.
This study is extremely interesting to me because I have three Siberian huskies and only two of them have blue eyes, the other has caramel eyes which match his fur. My family and I have always wondered why my one husky is not like my other two and this study finally answers our question. This study was done using consumer information by using online surveys and pictures, which makes it fast, easy, and cheap to obtain a lot of information and candidates. I feel like this study will be the beginning of genome sequencing more of our pets which can help genetic researchers discover more valuable information about them such as how phenotypes occur or even diseases.