A New Canis Familiaris


Learning Objectives

Students learn how artificial selection can be used to develop new dog breeds with characteristics that make the dogs capable of performing a desirable task and they “create” a dog that could be bred for their purposes.


Grade Levels



National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Standards:

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-LS4-4


Materials Needed

Computer with internet access

Canis familiaris Sheet



Introduction (5 minutes)

  • Have students read the article Beagle, Harrier, Foxhound: The Same But Different from American Kennel Club Click Here
  • Discuss with students how these three dogs are connected and why they are different.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Ask students to describe the features or abilities of dogs for which humans might breed.
  • Point out that it is possible to select dogs to breed for particular traits because all dogs are from the same species, Canis familiaris.
  • The various breeds can mate with each other to produce offspring.

Independent Working Time

  • Divide students into teams of 2-4.
  • Explain that each group will be attempting to artificially select a new dog with certain traits by crossing two breeds.
  • Students must determine the following:
    • What will we want our dog to be good at?
    • What physical features will he/she need?
    • What behavioral features will he/she need?
  • Students should use the following resources for research:
  • Once students have collected the information, they will need to fill out the Canis familiaris sheet and introduce their new dog.

Review and Closing

  • Discuss why pure bred dogs are valuable to the community.


Beagle, Harrier, Foxhound: The Same But Different. (2015, October 7). Retrieved from http://www.akc.org/content/akc-history-archive/articles/beagle-harrier-foxhound-different/.

Compare Breeds. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.akc.org/find-a-match/compare-breeds/.

Dog Breeds. (n.d.) Retrieved from www.akc.org/dog-breeds.

DNA Resource Center. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.akc.org/dna/resource-center/.