Saturday, April 3, 2010

Looking for the "pointing" gene

Researchers from "The Center for Canine Health and Performance" - A Program Jointly Supported by the Van Andel Reseach Institute and The Translational Genomics Research Institute - came to the Northern California Vizsla Field Trial last weekend.

Their mission was to collect DNA material from a group of dogs that were at the event. The project is searching for the "pointing" gene in the Continental Breeds. The researchers told me they have a large data base from German Shorthairs and a few other pointing breeds but wanted the Vizsla added to the data base.

They asked the organizers to pick the best 5 dogs in the group that had a "natural point." I was pleased that Bailey was included in the 5 selected and the researchers drew about 2 ounces of blood from Bailey. After that, they asked if they could take a saliva swab from Chloe to add to the data base. "Of course, ' I said.

This is all quite interesting. The "pointing gene" researchers and I talked for a while about the unique character of the ability and the complexity of how the "point" is different from the genes for the senses. A pointing breed can't have too strong of a scent-tracing ability like the bloodhound; otherwise, it would "point" too early. Law enforcement is interested in this too, understandably, as a good "pointer" could point out the "bad guy" or the drugs or other illegal items that have a scent.

While talking, I mentioned I was going on a research trip to Germany and England for work and one of the highlights of the trip was taking a "Vizsla Walk" (Viz Wiz) in the south of England with a group of Vizslas and their owners.

The reserachers' eyes got big and in excited voices asked if I could possiblily get DNA swabs of the dogs for their research. I told them I would be happy to if they showed me what to do.

They showed me how simple it is to do on a dog, a mouth swab, and the paperwork and release forms that need to be signed by the owners. Very easy. They gave me 20 kits for my trip. These kits are about $15 each, and they told me to have them FedEx more if needed while over in England or Germany.

They also said to find ANY pointing breed in my travels and especially the breeds that are not common here in the US.

So as a volunteer research assistant to the "pointing gene" research project, I am reaching out to all the redbirddog readers in England or Germany who would like to help out.

My travels during the 2 weeks in Europe will be the following:

April 16 to 19 Berlin area.

April 20 Dresden area.

April 21 to 23 Munich

April 24 - travel to Bournemouth, England staying with Rio and Radar

April 25 Viz Wiz (Vizsla Walk) in the New Forest

April 26 Birmingham area

April 27 Manchester area

April 28 Cambridge area

April 29 and 30 London area
Fly out of Heathrow on May 1.

So those is the areas of my travels that have a "natural pointing dog" that we could add to the research, e-mail me at:

I will have a local cell phone for both England and Germany that is on the way to me. For those who sign up, I will give you that number when I get it.

For those who can make the Viz Wiz on Sunday 25 April, I will have the kits with me.


An interesting article on another aspect of gene research in dogs.

1 comment:

Andrew Campbell said...

That's awesome, Rod, especially that you're doing some collection over in the Old Country. Have a good trip!