Dog Breed Isn't a Good Practice To Predict Behavior

Dog Breed Isn't a Good Practice To Predict Behavior ...

A new research has found that combining genome sequences from over 2,000 dogs and survey data from a further 18,000 pooches has resulted in a significant increase in dog behavior, with the conclusion that a dog breed does not affect its behavioral abilities.

The six-year study involved researchers from across the United States, led by senior author Elinor Karlsson, the director of the vertebrate genomics group at the Harvard University.

Dogs and behavior

The findings, published in Science, were the culmination of a research that began years ago as a study into compulsive dog behaviors. Dogs are an excellent human behavior, but they are heavily linked to human society and even treated for behavioral disorders with human psychiatric drugs. Karlsson hopes that understanding the reasons why dogs whine, bark, and play fetch at a gene level might be beneficial for others.

In the first instance, Karlsson realized that lack of access to doggy DNA hindered her attempts to understand dog genomics. At the same time, they immediately took out their cell phone, showed me a picture of their dog, and began to reveal everything they learned about their dog.

Her team conceived a website called Darwins Ark, where owners might (and still can) upload information about their dogs to the site, answering a survey of over 100 questions about their dogs'' appearance and behavior.

Karlsson, despite her ability to be expert in canine genetics, had never owned a dog. She therefore recruited Marjie Alonso, the then-executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, to research the structure of Darwins Ark, resulting in questions that would reduce to the core of dog behavior, without being overwhelmed by the personality and desire that owners tend to use.

Whats in a breed?

The initial evidence showed how different breeds had influenced the genomic variation among single breed dogs, as did the owners of these dogs. A strong selection of breeds for looks think massive Great Danes, wiry Airedale Terriers, or folded Shar Pei were examples of the teams findings. Physical traits, like size and fur length, showed a connection to different breeds. Labrador Retrievers were, unsurprisingly, more likely to retrieve.

The vast majority of behavioral traits showed little differentiation between breeds; no behaviors were breed exclusive while Labradors were assessed as being the least likely to howl, according to Karlsson. This wasn''t surprising because considering these traits in a complex context requires time. But the idea that these breeds had been created within the last 160 years did not make any sense.

The team looked at breed standards as defined by the American Kennel Club, who gives each breed a three-word character profile (Shiba Inus is active, compassionate, and adept at characterizing Chihuahuas), and the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. All of these findings were quite similar to those of Karlsson and their team who were trying to outfox. This is where the mutts came in handy.

Mendels mutts

Half of Darwins Ark''s dogs were mixed-breed mutts. The team assembled a sample of these mutts who had no easily identifiable lineage and sequenced their genomes to match their exact breed composition.

While owners of purebred Golden Retrievers were more likely to say their dogs were friendly to strangers, even having Golden Retriever ancestry did not encourage mutts to growl at the postman. A genome-wide association study conducted by the researchers found that a dog breed predicted just 9% of its resulting behavior.

Some breed ancestries had an impact. For example, having Collie boosted the ability of a dog to be biddable (responding to human commands), while dogs with some Shar Pei in them were immune to the temptation of a thrown toy. However, other behavioral factors, which conventional wisdom has decided, posed a no concern. Insignificant significance in deciding whether a dog was sociable around other dogs or whether it was easily stimulated across different circumstances.

Heritability of dog traits

What does this mean for behavior in dogs? It is important to remember that the findings does not suggest that genetics as a whole is unimportant in determining behaviors. For example, the heritability of a trait is the amount to which genetics influences the variation in that trait, which is, for example, 30%, suggesting that nearly a third of variation among dogs is due to their genes.

According to Alonso, these influences are more likely to have been established over the years prior to breed emergence, rather than more recently. If you are considering a dog, the truth is that the breed isnt the complete end of the job, therefore, we should really be following the rules.

The study might have implications for dog owners'' safety practices. While the dog''s aggression itself was difficult to measure, the dog''s proxy factor of agonistic threshold basically how likely a dog was to respond positively to a stimulus showed little interest in breed, according to Karlsson. A breed restriction doesn''t seem to make a lot of sense to us.

These findings could have significant implications for how we pick and handle a man''s best friend. Rather than adopting a Labrador and ending up with a loyal family pet or anticipating a smart, independent and stubborn dog when purchasing a West Highland Terrier, owners should work more on a dog-by-dog basis. Karlsson is a character that you will have to learn to live with.

You may also like: