Artificial Selection Lab Activity - Breeding Dogs

How to Teach Artificial Selection, Life Science Lab, NGSS Artificial Selection

Free NGSS Life Science Activities

Breeding Dogs Artificial Selection Lab Activity Background Information:

We know that all animals have adaptations that help them survive in their specific environment. In the case of Charles Darwin’s research on the finches in Galapagos, these birds have evolved different beaks to be able to obtain available food. Other species adapt to survive in the wild. This is called natural selection.

However, throughout history, humans have domesticated both plants and animals, using crossbreeding to select for desirable traits, like bigger fruit, more milk production, or in the case of dogs, maybe just better companionship.

There is only one species of dog, but over 400 different breeds. Since all dogs are in that single species, the breeds can be crossbred to produce puppies with different traits. The process for this is to decide what traits are desired, find dogs with those traits, and then mating them for a few generations until puppies with those traits. In this case, a new breed has been developed by artificial selection or selective breeding.

Here are the Files Downloadable Files for the Breeding Dogs Lab Activity

NGSS Standards Covered

  • MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
  • MS-LS4-4: Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
  • MS-LS4-5: Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

Artificial Selection Learning Objectives

  • Identify the differences between natural and artificial
  • Discuss the concept of common ancestors.
  • Explain pros and cons of genetic engineering

I Can Statement

I can relate Mendel’s and Darwin’s principles to artificial selection and genetic engineering

Artificial Selection Vocabulary

  • artificial selection
  • selective breeding
  • domestication
  • inbreeding
  • linebreeding
  • crossbreeding
  • genetic engineering
  • GMO

Artificial Selection Lab Activity Materials:

Each student will need one Penny (or any other coin to flip)

Artificial Selection Lab Activity Pre-lab Questions:

1. Discuss with your partner what you know about the dog breeds. List for each other as many as you can. Did you list 400?

2. Of the breeds you know, what traits can you think of? Can you think of how those traits might be considered helpful or desirable to humans?

Breeding Dogs by Artificial Selection Lab Activity Procedure:

Follow the directions below.

Breeders’ names: ________________________________________ Date: ________________

Assignment: You are a dog breeder. You have been contacted by a scientist working in the arctic. The scientist wants a dog that will be able to hear a polar bear approaching and alert him with a loud bark. This could also help to scare the polar bear away.

Part I: Desired features of the new breed

For each feature below, circle the desired form you ideally want your dogs to have. For features that you do not think will affect your breed’s ability to perform the given task, circle “any.”

Dog Breeding by Artificial Selection Lab Activity, Artificial Selection Worksheet PDF

For each feature that you selected, explain WHY that trait would be helpful to the arctic scientist.

Here are the choices of dog breeds you may select from.

Remember that no one breed has all the traits you are looking for, so you need to select two breeds. While you look at the breeds, put a check by each desirable trait the breed possesses. This could help you select the breeds you wish to work with.

Breeding Dogs by Artificial Selection Lab Activity

Part II: Dog breeds chosen to mate: _____________ X __________________ Reason:

  • Which two traits do you think are most important for your new breed to inherit?

Part III: Now you will “breed” the male and female dogs.

  • Remember our study of genetics and how the offspring receives one gene from each parent randomly.
  • We will use a penny flip to select whether a puppy will have the trait from the mother or from the father dog. There will be three puppies, so we will repeat the “breeding” three times.
  • On the column “trait from mother” and “trait from father”, write the trait of the breed you selected to mate.
  • For each trait, flip a coin. If the coin falls on “heads”, the puppy will inherit the mother’s traits. If the coin falls on “tails”, the puppy will inherit the father’s traits. Write that trait in the column “Puppy #1”. Continue flipping the coin to select the traits for Puppy #1.
  • Repeat the process for Puppy #2 and Puppy #3.

Artificial Selection Worksheet

  • Do any of these puppies have all the traits you originally wanted for the task in the Arctic?
  • Are any of them closer to the goal than either of the parents?

In selective breeding, you may not get the exact traits in one generation. Breeders will then mate them again to acquire those traits. When the “perfect” dog is born, that dog should be bred with its own kind.

Part IV: Draw the puppy that has the closest traits for your goal. What would be the next step for the arctic scientist?

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  1. ARNOLD Gozalo

    A good lesson to prepare students for the Regents Exam

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