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Strongest Dog In The World Photograph

Summary:
Email with an attached photograph of a very muscular canine claims that the dog is the strongest in the world and works for the Russian Army (Full commentary below).



Status:
Real dog - Description is false

Example:(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: Strongest dog in the world

The strongest Dog in the World. Working in Russian Army Special Forces.

Strongest Dog in the World

Photo credit: Bruce Stotesbury/Times Colonist



Commentary:
According to the caption that accompanies a circulating photograph of an unusually muscular canine, the pictured dog is the strongest in the world and works for the Russian Army. At first glance, many may assume that the image has been manipulated. However, the photograph is genuine and depicts a real animal. On the other hand, the claims in the photograph's caption are inaccurate.

According to a July 2007 Daily Mail article, the hulking canine in the photograph is a whippet named Wendy who was born with a genetic defect which caused her to grow larger and much more muscular than others of her breed:
While her head, heart, lungs and legs are the size of those of a normal whippet, her gene defect means she is "double muscled".

She weighs 4st4lb - twice as much as she should - and has bulging neck muscles, burly shoulders and haunches like a baboon. And unlike ordinary whippets known for their lithe and narrow frame, this four-year-old pedigree doesn't just have a sixpack stomach, she has a 24-pack.
A June 2007 New York Times article reports that Wendy and others like her - dubbed "bully whippets" - have become the subjects of scientific testing.
When mutant, muscle-bound puppies started showing up in litters of champion racing whippets, the breeders of the normally sleek dogs invited scientists to take DNA samples at race meets here and across the country. They hoped to find a genetic cause for the condition and a way to purge it from the breed.

It worked. "Bully whippets," as the heavyset dogs are known, turn out to have a genetic mutation that enhances muscle development.
In spite of her somewhat fearsome appearance, Wendy's owner claims that she is a friendly animal who "likes nothing better than a good back scratch and isn't shy about sitting in your lap to ask for one". And far from living a spartan life as a Russian Army dog, Wendy enjoys a relaxed and healthy life on a farm in Victoria, Canada.

The circulating photograph was taken by Bruce Stotesbury of Canada's Times Colonist newspaper. The image, along with other photographs of Wendy, can be viewed in a photo gallery on the Times Colonist website.

Research indicates that there have been many contenders for the title of "Strongest dog in the World", but no clear and confirmed winner has so far emerged. And, in fact, reports about Wendy make no claims that she is the world's strongest dog.

A report in the PLoS Genetics journal offers in-depth scientific information about the genetic mutation that caused Wendy's double-muscled appearance.

References:
Photo gallery: Wendy the Whippet
Meet the Incredible Hulk of Hounds
As Breeders Test DNA, Dogs Become Guinea Pigs
Big Wendy the muscular whippet
A Mutation in the Myostatin Gene Increases Muscle Mass and Enhances Racing Performance in Heterozygote Dogs

Last updated: 10th September 2009
First published: 27th September 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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