Sunday, September 2, 2007

the incredible hulk of hounds


The hulky hound with double the muscle power


Maybe they should call her a whoppet - after all, she's a whopper of a whippet.

This is Wendy, the dog whose appearance is a long way from the usual long, lean and sleek look of her breed.

She was born with a genetic defect which has left her looking like the Incredible Hulk of Hounds.

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.


Sadly, her mixed-up genes mean she may have a shorter life expectancy than most breeds.

But while she may look oddly menacing, her doting owner Ingrid Hansen claims the giant pooch likes nothing better than clambering up on to your lap to have her back scratched.

"People have referred to her as Arnold Schwarzenegger," she said.

"She's healthy and happy. That's all that counts.

"She doesn't know she's got a genetic defect. She might give you a nasty lick, that's all."

The whippet, who lives on a farm in Victoria, Canada, has been the subject of an American genetics study. Although the dogs are customarily bred for hunting, racing and showing, Wendy enjoys a slower pace of life.

She spends her days prowling around the fields, chasing other dogs and horses and sleeping on her owner's bed.

The genetic mutation of Wendy the whippet is a deficiency in myostatin, which is a growth factor that limits muscle tissue growth. But that rare genetic defect does not occur only in the whippet breed. In fact, it can and has occurred in other animals… even in humans themselves!



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