Genetic differentiation in pointing dog breeds inferred from microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA sequence

Anim Genet. 2008 Feb;39(1):1-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2007.01658.x.


Recent studies presenting genetic analysis of dog breeds do not focus specifically on genetic relationships among pointing dog breeds, although hunting was among the first traits of interest when dogs were domesticated. This report compares histories with genetic relationships among five modern breeds of pointing dogs (English Setter, English Pointer, Epagneul Breton, Deutsch Drahthaar and German Shorthaired Pointer) collected in Spain using mitochondrial, autosomal and Y-chromosome information. We identified 236 alleles in autosomal microsatellites, four Y-chromosome haplotypes and 18 mitochondrial haplotypes. Average F(ST) values were 11.2, 14.4 and 13.1 for autosomal, Y-chromosome microsatellite markers and mtDNA sequence respectively, reflecting relatively high genetic differentiation among breeds. The high gene diversity observed in the pointing breeds (61.7-68.2) suggests contributions from genetically different individuals, but that these individuals originated from the same ancestors. The modern English Setter, thought to have arisen from the Old Spanish Pointer, was the first breed to cluster independently when using autosomal markers and seems to share a common maternal origin with the English Pointer and German Shorthaired Pointer, either via common domestic breed females in the British Isles or through the Old Spanish Pointer females taken to the British Isles in the 14th and 16th centuries. Analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequence indicates the isolation of the Epagneul Breton, which has been formally documented, and shows Deutsch Drahthaar as the result of crossing the German Shorthaired Pointer with other breeds. Our molecular data are consistent with historical documents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Breeding / history
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Dogs / classification*
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Haplotypes
  • Heterozygote
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Medieval
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats*
  • Phylogeny
  • Spain
  • Species Specificity
  • Y Chromosome / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial