Explorer: Science of Dogs - an early look
As mentioned before, National Geographic Channel's Explorer kicks off its new season on August 8. I saw a preview of the August 15 episode, "Science of Dogs," and it's quite interesting.
We all know that dogs are a result of selective breeding, but I had never given thought much about what that means exactly. These are animals we have selectively bred over centuries to suit our needs: for hunting, companionship, protection, and myriad other possibilities. This type of breeding can be good, but it also has consequences, with one in four dogs stricken with some kind of genetic problem or defect. Since dogs often have the same diseases as humans, doctors can study the dog's genetic makeup in order to better understand and cure the same diseases in humans.
This gene study can also help the dogs, of course. The episode focuses on a particular bull terrier, who, because of a genetic defect, cannot stop chasing its tail. Most dogs do this, but this dog is actually unable to stop, spinning in circles until it passes out or throws up. During the episode, the dog undergoes a procedure to try and correct this abnormality.
Some of the breeds featured in the episode include the dogo argentino, a dog bred specifically to hunt wild boar; the saluki, a dog that can run up to forty miles per hour that is used for hunting in North Africa and for racing in the United States; and Sulimovs, Russian dogs trained to sniff out explosives. If they could just find the gene that allows dogs to also dismantle bombs, that would be pretty cool.
"Science of Dogs" airs on the National Geographic Channel at 8:00 p.m. on August 15.