Short-Legged Dogs Share an Ancestor

More on PawNation: basset-hound, cant-miss-photos, corgi, dachshund, dog-breeds, dogs, gene, genetics, legs, mutation, pekingese, shih-tzu, short, terrier
Dachshund dog picture

Click the dachshund to flip through our short-legged pups gallery. Photo: flygraphix/Flickr

Who are you calling shorty?

Dogs like dachshunds, basset hounds and corgis are famous for their stumpy little legs. Now researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Maryland have figured out where the low-slung dogs get their stubby stems from, reports National Geographic News.

The researchers discovered that 19 short-legged dog breeds all share a single genetic mutation, which suggests that most short-legged dogs descended from a single stunted ancestor. It's possible that the gene could have arisen as many as 30,000 years ago, long before humans started breeding dogs for physical traits.

The researchers say the study, published in the journal Science, is proof that one little change to a gene can have a big impact. "There may just be a small number of major genetic changes that create all the different shapes and sizes of dogs," study co-author Heidi Parker said.

The short-legged gene is found in breeds from Shih Tzus and Scottish Terriers to Basset Hounds and Pekingese. For a (short) look at these squat pups, check out our gallery of stubby-legged dogs. Just remember, they're not short -- they're vertically challenged!,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=684677&pid=684676&uts=1249578672
The Short and Stout Gene
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Short and stubby doesn't get any cuter than this.

Dogs with Short Legs

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Short and stubby doesn't get any cuter than this.


"I'm ready for my close-up."


Scottish Terrier
The grass is always greener...when you're only 11 inches off the ground.

Paul J.Richards, AFP/Getty

West Highland Terrier
"Whee, I can fly!"

Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty Images

Cousin Itt called. He wants his hairdo back.

Morgan Riehl, AOL

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
"Hellooo, anybody up there? I'm down here!"

Getty Images/Stringer

Ewok, floor mop, or ancient imperial pooch?

David Rogowski, AOL

Cardigan Welsh Corgi
"Tell me everything! I'm all ears."

Morgan Riehl, AOL

You'd be perplexed, too, if you people referred to you as, "hot dog".

Getty Images

Basset Hound
Get this guy a biscuit! Somebody clearly knows how to work the sad puppy-dog eyes.


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