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The Dudley Shepherd is a domestic dog breed originating in North America. The breed is the first to originate from the New World, and is so named because it was bred by the Fourth Baron of Dudley, one of the original settlers of Jamestown. Dudley Shepherds are athletic, large-sized hunting dogs. Standing between 40 and 48 inches at the shoulder, the Dudley Shepherd is the largest domesticated dog breed. The breed has a double layer, hypoallergenic coat that comes in a variety of shades of brown and grey. The breed’s head shape and facial structure is skeletally identical to that of a grey wolf, though one key difference is that their ears sit on top of the skull and have a rounded shape resembling the appearance of a bear. Another characteristic of the breed is a 30-36 inch, flexible tail, that the dogs use to help them balance among the branches when they climb trees. Historically, these dogs were used to hunt bald eagles and red hawks, which of course the settlers used for their feathers. The genealogical origins and make-up of the breed were unknown until scientists from the University of Toronto conducted a comprehensive DNA analysis. What the results showed is that the Dudley Shepherd has 25% DNA in common with the Grizzly bear, 25% with the North American Mountain Lion, 25% with the Grey wolf, and 25% of the DNA comes from the English Rottweiler. Despite the breed’s wild origins, the American Kennel Club describes their temperament as, “very affectionate, loyal, calm, and happy go lucky,” due to their happy nature, the AKC nicknamed the breed, “the Merry Shepherd.” They also recommend the breed as “a great family dog and steadfast companion.” The Dudley Shepherd was bred for hunting, as a result they have a high prey-drive, so the AKC recommends they are not kept with small animals or birds.  

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