Genetic study aims to reduce inbreeding amongst Maltese hunting dogs

Study by Maltese and Italian scientists aims to shed a light on the origins of the Pharoah Hound and provide recommendations to reduce the incidence of inbreeding amongst dogs. 

The Pharaoh Hound, Malta's national dog
The Pharaoh Hound, Malta's national dog

An ongoing genetic study on the Maltese hunting dog, the Pharoah Hound (kelb tal-fenek) aims to shed light on the origins of the breed and give a clear indication on the breeding status of the dogs.

Based on these results, recommendations will then be made for a professional breeding programme to reduce the incidence of inbreeding and to ensure a healthy future for the breed.

University lecturers George Attard and Anthony Gruppetta have invited members of hunting lobby FKNK to collaborate in this research programme by taking blood samples from their own hunting dogs.

The hunting dog’s origin is as yet scientifically unknown, and the study, which is being carried out by a group of Maltese and Italian scientists, aims to solve the riddle. They will attempt to analyze DNA found in mitochondria of the dogs’ red blood cells. This type of analysis traces the genetic lineage along the maternal line and has been used in several studies to describe population history, patterns of gene flow, genetic structure and species limits.

Malta declared the Kelb tal-Fenek the national dog in 1974, and a recent study has proven that it is a pure breed and endemic to the Maltese Islands.


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