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Bernyk’s Breed Reveal


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100% of online guesses got this wrong!

As his Instagram handle suggests, Bernyk looks like a Yellow Labrador or Golden Retriever. Are you surprised to find out that, genetically, he is 50% Poodle? So are we!

Text listing dog breeds on white background next to a picture of a dog

Bernyk’s dominant breed is 50.0% Poodle, followed by 39.6% Labrador Retriever and 10.4% Golden Retriever. That means that one of his parents is a Poodle and the other is a mixed breed Labrador/Golden Retriever. The overwhelming majority of online guesses picked up on the Golden Retriever in Bernyk, and a few of you guessed Labrador Retriever as well, but Poodle was the biggest surprise!

While Bernyk doesn’t look much like a Poodle at first glance, you can spot clues about his Poodle heritage if you look closely. 

Dog on green background next to text
IG: @bernyk_the_yellowlab

Bernyk gets his beard from his Poodle side

The RSPO2 gene gives a dog “furnishings,” which is another name for the eyebrows, mustache, or beard that are characteristic of breeds like Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier, and Wire Haired Dachshund. Bernyk’s “beard” comes from his Poodle heritage. Furnishings are dominant, so Bernyk only needed one copy of the gene to show a beard.

Bernyk also has the gene for a wavy or curly coat, which he inherited from his Poodle parent. That gene, combined with his furnishings gene, gives him his wavy beard. If he had inherited this gene from both parents, his beard would likely be longer and curlier, and he would look much more like a Poodle.

Why does Bernyk have a yellow coat?

Bernyk happened to inherit traits that come from or are shared with his Lab and Golden Retriever ancestry. He actually inherited the gene for a yellow coat color from both parents, so even though he looks like a Yellow Lab, his Poodle heritage is partly responsible for that. 

Dog laying on grass next to text on green background
IG: @bernyk_the_yellowlab

Bernyk’s parents

Bernyk’s maternal ancestry is among the oldest known domestic dog lineages, possibly tracing back to wolf populations that were first domesticated into dogs in Central Asia over 15,000 years ago. While it can be found in dozens of breeds, it is common among breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, Papillons, and Shiba Inu.

Bernyk’s father’s ancestors were among the most successful of the wolf lineages. His paternal line also comes from very early Central Asian wolf populations, and this ancestry can be found most commonly in Poodles, Borzoi, and German Pinscher.

Why doesn’t Bernyk look more like a Poodle?

A lot of the characteristics we associate with specific breeds are due to just a handful of genes. Genes interact with each other in complex ways—it’s often not as straightforward as black and white. That’s how Bernyk can look so much like a Yellow Labrador, even though his DNA is 50% Poodle! Learn more about how breed surprises can happen.

Check out Bernyk’s Embark profile to learn more about him.

Did you know? Embark recently discovered that five genetic variants influence the intensity of red or yellow fur in dogs' coats

DNA can be complicated. At Embark, we’re doing research and working with other scientists to better understand how genetics can affect dog health. 

Thanks for Embarking with us! If you aren’t already, be sure to follow @embarkvet on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Youtube.


Mimi Padmabandu Contributor

Mimi Padmabandu is a scientific writer and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She has over a decade of experience writing about science and genomics for leading biotechnology companies. She holds a bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London.

Read more about Mimi Padmabandu

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