A former vet has caused controversy by saying the famous white horse in Uffington could in fact be a dog.

According to Olaf Swarbrick, of West Sussex, the Uffington white horse in Oxfordshire is anatomically more canine than equine.

The Oxfordshire chalk figure, which is thought by the National Trust to be around 3,000 years old, measures 11m by 38.5m

Mr Swarbrick wrote a letter to the Veterinary Record stating that the shape is more canine.

Anatomically it’s not a horse at all,” wrote Mr Swarbrick.

“It’s too long and too lean and it has a long tail — horses don’t have a tail the length of that stylised creature at Uffington. If I’m correct, it needs to have its [designation as a] horse removed — maybe [it should be renamed] the wolf hound of Uffington.

But Keith Blacksall from the National Trust disagreed: “What you have to remember it’s a stylised horse, almost like a stencil on the hillside, so it’s not a complete figure of a horse, it’s a suggestion.

“I would like to think it’s frozen in perpetual canter across the downs. Visibility wise you can’t see the entire figure, my theory is it’s meant to be revered by the living and by the gods and the ancestors — a view from above and below.”