Francisco Herrera

Oct, 18th, 2016
Biology 1615
Breed and sex differences in growth curves for two breeds of dog guides


The scientists start out knowing the desired weight for a dog guide is 18 to 32 kg as an adult.
At that weight range the dog can safely guided their owner around. Not very much research has
been conducted to determine the adult weight of dog guides. The scientists wanted to determine
which breed would research idle adult weight faster, to help reduce cost for breeding and
training. The scientists choose to follow male and female German Shepherds (GS) and male and
female Labrador Retrievers (LR). The scientists are trying to gather information on the weights
of male and female GS and LR, to illustrate their weight pattern as they grow. This will help
choose a dog to be a guide knowing that they will research desired weight limits. With this
information it will help dog breeders not waste their time and resources to train young GS and
LR that will not research or exceed desired weight limits. The scientists want to create a growth
curve for male and female GS and LR, find similarities and differences in growth within and
between the breeds and sexes, and find the average age of when a mature dog reaches its mature
weight. With creating a growth function this will help determine if a dog will reach desired
weight faster and help reduce training and resources cost.

Materials and Methods

The scientists obtained 18,235 weights on 1,558 GS and LR raised between 1992 to 1997.
Raised by the Seeing Eye, Inc., Morristown, NJ. The dogs were weighed daily for the first week
of life, then weekly until the dogs were 6 to 8 weeks old, and again when the dogs reached 12 to

14 months old. If a dog was not weighed between 290 and 550 days after birth that specific dog
was taken out of the experiment. They used the Gompertz Function to help show their growth
curve and show the growth of individual dogs. Overall they used data they obtained by weighing
male and female GS and LR, to generate an accurate growth function that can determine if a dog
will become the ideal weight to become a guide dog.


The researchers “estimated mature weight was 2.4 +_ .3 kg higher for LR than GS and 4.7
+_ kg higher for males than for females. The breed x sex interaction was not significant for
mature weight” (Helmink, Leighton, & Shanks, 2000). The researchers found no significant
evidence between male and females GS and LR. Meaning they both tended to grow at the same
rate regardless of the breed. With their findings they were able to construct a growth curve model
showing the rate of growth between male and female GS and LR.


With all the information gathered by the researchers, the use of their growth curve function to
provide average mature weights for dogs was proven helpful when choosing guide dogs. For a
more accurate growth curve the researchers should have, of collected more data from a larger
population. Then repeat the experiment to see if they obtain the same results. Also it would've
been beneficial if the dogs were weighed more often, when they were with caretakers to get more
data to construct a more accurate growth curve. The experiment started with 1,558 dogs but
ended with 880 dogs who meet the requirements of the experiment. A larger sample in any
experiment is beneficial to help find outliers that can affect results. Overall the experiment went
well they were able to obtain useful and insightful data to create a function that can be used to
predict if a dog will meet the idle weight to become a guide dog.