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I had an idea for a creature in my world: the enchanced canine.

Basically, they were dogs, mostly German shepherds, that were used by a police organization in the United States. These policemen, wanting better fighting dogs, made a contract with a bioengineering company that enchanced the dogs. The changes they made, in order, were-

  • Increasing the dog’s muscle mass and strength.
  • Increase their speed
  • Increase the dog’s intelligence to make them more social, more obedient to train, and able to carry out basic tactics on their own.
  • Better eyesight

Then, I planned on an apocalypse happening, and all these dogs being stranded in a new, more hostile world without their owners. And eventually, after a few generations, going wild. Mixing with gray wolves (who’s populations spread with the lack of humans), other dogs, and eventually forming packs that terrorize survivors, both human and animal alike.

My question is, is someone like this realistic, or plausible? Are all these changes within the realms of genetic engineering?

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    $\begingroup$ making the dog more intelligent will make them less obedient not more. There is a reason dogs have smaller brains than wolves. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 30 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ @John: Reallly? $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Sep 30 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah one common aspect of domestication is smaller brains basically all domesticated mammals have smaller brains than their wild counterpart. it makes them more controllable. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 30 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ + for "enchanced". A mix of enchanted, enhanced, and lucky. $\endgroup$ – Willk Sep 30 at 23:34
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This is quite realistic and plausible. In fact, humans have already been doing essentially this over thousands of years of selective breeding. Dogs have been bred selectively to enrich for certain qualities like size, strength, intelligence, and sociability. Adding genetic engineering into the mix will allow this process to happen even faster, as traits can be more reliably selected and purified, rather than selectively breeding animals over many generations.

Since all of these qualities are enriched versions of already-existing dog biology, this is very well within the realm of possibility. Adding wings or gills or something decidedly un-doglike would be more of a challenge, but selectively improving already-existing qualities should be relatively more straightforward.

Crossbreeding with a wolf is also completely plausible, as dogs and wolves are interfertile, meaning their offspring are themselves fertile. So long as your genetic engineering isn't so drastic as to create an entirely new species, it's totally plausible that one of these dogs could mate with a wolf and have lineage of multiple generations in the wild.

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  • $\begingroup$ So I can have extra-dangerous canines in my setting! $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Sep 30 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Great answer. Also worth noting that due to the existence of extensively varied dog breeds with distinct physical and behavioral characteristics identifying the genes responsible for these phenotypes is actually much easier in dogs than in practically any other animals. This means genetic engineering to mix and modify these features and to identify the pathways involved will be simpler and faster. $\endgroup$ – Mike Nichols Sep 30 at 17:09
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There are two conflicting requirements in your list: more mass and more speed.

Compare a cheetah with any other big felids like lions, panthers, leopards and tigers: the cheetah excels in speed, being the fastest land animal on Earth, but to achieve that goal has been forced to sacrifice mass and robustness, being way more slender than the cousins.

Same applies for those dogs selected to be exceptional runners like the sighthound,

sigthound

which cannot be compared in constitution to more robust breeds like a rottweiler.

rottweiler

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  • $\begingroup$ Anyway to get around this? $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Sep 30 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper I don't think. It's a basic physics principle, for the same energy you can put in a moving body, the higher the mass the lower the achievable velocity. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 30 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @DT Cooper You CAN have large dogs who can move quickly, but they do it through brute force. They will be very fast, for a very short time. Since wolves are more endurance hunters, this provides competing evolutionary pressures. You may even have these dogs split into different breeds/species based on what the people who ordered them wanted. So werewolf ethnicity (on steroids, literally) $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Sep 30 at 17:43
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Domesticated dogs are basically small wolves. Realistically however better eyesight ? Color sight would be a nice addition but would require them to completely rewire the visual cortex and conic cells in the eyes, making new eyes that were definitely more primate.

Dogs already have a pretty keen sense of smell as is and particulate matter REACHING the nose is really what determines that.

There is a limit as to what bipeds and quadrapeds can reach in size before their skeletal system could not possibly maintain their weight. Luckily for the storyline there are these things called big cats, which are ridiculously large and basically huge feral killing machines. So there is room to grow.

The problem is you'd also have to increase their fondness of their masters and social impulse to make sure they never turned on their masters or pack mates or well said masters are now lunch.

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