A large genetic study shows that dog breed does not predict behavior

– Enna8982 / Shutterstock.com

Recent analyzes have shown that the emergence of genetic factors at the origin of the various behavioral traits of dogs predates the emergence of modern breeds by several thousand years.

Detector analysis

While the difference between dogs and wolves dates back about 15,000 years, it wasn’t until the 19th century that humans began selecting mates based on certain physical and aesthetic traits that we associate with modern breeds. These traits are still considered reliable indicators of a dog’s temperament and behaviour, with some breeds being seen as being easy to train, affectionate or very active, for example.

For this study published in the journal Scienceand researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Based on Harvard They sought to fill what they see as a gap in our understanding of this relationship, noting the lack of genetic studies linking the behaviors to ancestry. To do this, they analyzed the genomic sequences of more than 2,000 dogs and matching data from 200,000 responses to owners’ questionnaires about their pets’ behavior and physical characteristics, covering 78 different breeds.

This analysis showed that behavioral traits were influenced by a combination of environmental factors and canine genetics, but modern breed classification has played only a minor role. The team identified 11 unique regions in the dog genome that are closely related to behavior, and found that none of them were specifically linked to any particular modern breed. According to the researchers, the contribution of breed to dog behavior was minimal (about 9%).

“While genes play a role in each dog’s personality, a specific dog breed is not a good predictor of these traits. ‘, it was highlighted Eleanor Carlson, lead author of the study. ” A dog’s personality and behavior is shaped by many genes as well as his life experiences. It is difficult to select such traits by breeding. »

The result of thousands of years of evolution

Certain behaviors were more strongly associated with factors other than race. Thus age was a better predictor of the probability that a dog would play with its toys, and gender of the probability that it would raise its paw to urinate. Scientists have also been unable to find behaviors that are exclusive to any particular breed. Although Labradors have the least tendency to bark, 8% of owners still report this behaviour.

The majority of behaviors that we consider characteristics of some modern dog breeds are likely the result of thousands of years of evolution, from wolves to wild dogs, then domesticated dogs, and finally to modern breeds. “, valuable Carlson. ” These inherited traits predate our concept of modern dog breeds by thousands of years. Each breed has inherited the genetic variation carried by those ancient dogs, although not always at the exact same frequencies. These differences are manifested today in the differences in character and behavior that are observed in a certain proportion of representatives of the same breed.. »

– Joop Snijder Photography / Shutterstock.com

“In most cases, purebreds differ minutely from other dogs.”

The study also notes that there are few differences in some behaviors between mixed and purebred dogs. If the ability to obey, that is, the way they react to human commands, is likely to be related to race, when it comes to socializing with the latter or their potential to fear, race is almost irrelevant.

In most cases, purebreds are subtly different from other dogs ‘, he explains Carlson. ” Although friendliness is the trait we usually associate with Golden Retrievers, we have found that the defining elements of these dogs are their physical characteristics, the shape of their ears, the color and quality of their coat, and size rather than making them friendly. The Golden Retriever is likely to be friendlier than a mixed dog or any other purebred dog, such as the Dachshund.. »

Leave a Comment