Friday, 15 January 2016

A Dog with Two Noses

In January 2016, I took this snapshot of a cute dog waiting by her homeless owner, who was sleeping on a public bench Istanbul's Kadıköy neighbourhood. Just one of the thousand similar scenes you could see in a big city like Istanbul. Nothing unusual, right? Check again.

The dog, against all reason, seemed to have two noses.

I did a double take and returned to photograph the dog. Not only did she have two noses, but the entire front half of her face was duplicated. The left nose was slightly smaller than the right one. Each nose had two independent nostrils, but the nostrils facing the interior side were smaller.

The dog seemed not at all disturbed by this curious deformity. I secretly wondered if her homeless owner had a similarly bifurcated face as well. (He didn't).

The deformity was most likely caused by severe inbreeding, and was rare enough to make the news, [1] [2] where it was referred to as a “one in a several million” incident.

I and a friend later played a frivolous "credit card machine" joke with this dog.

Alongside one-off sports like these, there are apparently breeds of dogs with a regular occurrence of twin noses. One of these was the spectacularly-named double-nosed Andean tiger hound.

A breed of double-nosed setter dog named çatalburun, (fork-nose,) was also bred in Turkey, near the district of Tarsus, where long ago, and completely unrelated to our story, Paul the Apostle was born. This dog was likely a çatalburun hybrid. 

What a strange encounter... People needlessly complain about genetic engineering and GMOs, as if modification of organisms is some blasphemous practice that only started two decades ago. This doggy was a reminder that people have been doing strange things to organisms through selective breeding, for centuries.


  1. Cool article, but selective breeding and gene insertion are very different. Gene insertion is not very old. Most people are concerned about gene insertion when they're "complain(ing) about genetic engineering," not selective breeding. This is actually a legitimate concern and here's why: Monsanto makes GMOs and owns the patent for Roundup. Roundup is an herbicide called glyphosate. It is systemic (gets dispersed through out the entire plant, not just area applied) so there will be residual amounts in any crop it is applied even after washing. Roundup Ready crops are produced by Monsanto and are glyphosate resistant crops created via gene insertion. There are two things we are concerned about here. First, being able to liberally apply glyphosate to Roundup Ready crops will mean more pesticides in our produce. Second, Monsanto owns the patents for Roundup Ready seeds and can throw its weight around with lawsuits targeting smaller farmers that unknowingly grow crops containing this genetic material.

    1. I agree with you that the genetic patenting of organisms and the particular case of Roundup / glyphosate are legitimate of concerns about GMOs.

      I wrote those comments in response to the Luddite-like opposition to GMOs: The misguided thinking that GMOs are results of "monstrous" science and nature has been "pure" all along. People have been modifying nature all along, and some GMOs, like "Golden Rice," can actually be beneficial.