Dog Breed Isn't an Equally Good Way To Predict Behavior

Dog Breed Isn't an Equally Good Way To Predict Behavior ...

A new study that combined genome sequences from over 2,000 dogs with survey data from a total of 18,000 pooches has come to a conclusion that it has surpassed over a century of established thought on dog behavior, finding that a dog breed does not contribute to its behavioral abilities.

The six-year study was a big undertaking for researchers from across the United States, led by senior author Elinor Karlsson, the director of the vertebrate genomics group at the Harvard and Broad Institute.

Dogs and behavior

A new study, published in Science, was the culmination of a series of years ago as a research into compulsive dog behavior. Dogs are an excellent example of human behavior, and are often treated for behavioral disorders with human psychiatric medications. Karlsson hopes the discussion on the grounds behind dogs whine, bark, and play fetch at a gene level might be helpful.

Despite a lack of access to doggy DNA, Karlsson realized that whenever she shared the topic of her research with others, only one conclusion was obtained. They immediately showed me a photo of their dog and began to reveal everything about their behavior, according to Karlsson. In the beginning, owners'' enthusiasm was, in the face of the situation, the perfect way to access more dog information.

Her organization created a website called Darwins Ark, which allows owners (and yet 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 reputation as an expert in canine genetics, had never lived a dog. So, she recruited Marjie Alonso, the then-executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, to investigate how dogs evolved. Alonso''s insights shaped Darwin''s Ark, and outlined strategies that would shift to the core of dog behavior, without being occluded by the personality and intention that often graft onto their dogs actions.

Whats in a breed?

The findings indicate that the differences between the genomic variation among single breed dogs and the responses submitted by owners of these dogs to the survey. Historically, the division of domesticated dogs into discrete breeds has grown, although modern breed classifications are under 200 years old. Physical traits, like size and fur length, also showed links to different breeds. Labrador Retrievers were, unsurprisingly, more likely to retrieve.

While the vast majority of behavioral traits show little differentiation between breeds, no behaviors were breed exclusive, and 8% of owners said that their Labs did so. This wasnt surprising: the idea that they''d been created within the last 160 years when these breeds came up, did not make any sense.

The team compared their responses to breed standards as defined by the American Kennel Club, who gives each breed a three-word character profile (Shiba Inus are active, aggressive, and gentle), and the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. All of the findings were somewhat more in line with the teams findings. Several factors were identified, indicating that owner reports of their pets behaviors were likely influenced by Karlsson''s and the group''s mutts. This is where the mutts came in handy.

Mendels mutts

Half of the Darwins Ark dogs were mixed-breed mutts. The team took a sample of these mutts with no easily identifiable lineage and sequenced their genomes to find their exact breed makeup.

Interestingly, the owners of purebred Golden Retrievers were more likely to say their dogs was friendly to strangers, but actually having Golden Retriever ancestry didnt make mutts more or less likely to growl at the postman. An in-depth genome research (GWAS) involving these mutts showed that, on average, a dogs breed predicted just 9% of its resulting behavior.

Certain breed ancestries exhibited a difference, for example, because having Collie grew a dog more likely to be biddable (responding to human commands) while dogs with some Shar Pei in them were immune to the temptation of a thrown toy. Nevertheless, other behavioral factors, which conventional wisdom has determined, weighed to an extent. In determining whether a dog was sociable around other dogs or whether it was easily stimulated across different circumstances.

Heritability of dog traits

So, what does it influence behavior in dogs? It''s important to remember that the research does not suggest that genetics as a whole is unimportant in determining behaviors. For example, the heritability of a trait is the extent to which genetics influences variation in that trait, indicating that nearly a third of variation among dogs is due to their genes.

According to Alonso, these influences are more likely to occur over the years prior to breed emergence, rather than more recent. If you are considering a dog, the concept of breed is absolutely unimportant. However, if you can only spare 15 minutes a day for walkies, then you should get a husky, which isn''t the end of everything. I don''t think that we should be deciding whether or not a dog is going to be happy with us.

The study may have implications for dog breed legislation. While the team explained that aggression itself was difficult to measure, they found that their proxy factor of agonistic threshold essentially how likely a dog was to react negatively to a stimulus showed almost no link to breed. In terms of genetics, Karlsson believes that a breed-based restriction does not seem to make much sense to us.

These findings may be helpful in choosing and dealing with a man''s best friend. Instead of adopting a Labrador and ending up with a 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 the subject of which you will need to learn how to live with.

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