Are you looking for a well-behaved dog? Breed may not tell you much. 2022-04-28 16:00:00


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Americans have as many stereotypes about dogs as there are two distinct breeds: Chihuahuas are nervous; Border Collie are hyperactive. Golden Retrievers awesome with children; Most famously, some of the larger breeds – such as the American bull terrier and Rottweiler – are aggressive.

But a research paper published Thursday by scientists studying the relationship between genetics and dog behavior suggests that our preconceptions may be wrong.

The researchers found that breed means very little in predicting the behavior and personality of an individual dog. This seems to be especially true of traits commonly associated with a dog’s personality, traits such as cuddling and friendliness toward strangers and aggression.

Thinking about how dogs think

Margie Alonso, co-author of the study and executive director of the IAABC Foundation, the charitable arm of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

the study, Posted in Sciencelooked at the genes of more than 2,000 dogs paired with 200,000 survey answers from dog owners about their genes pet behaviors. The researchers examined data on dogs that live primarily as companion animals only and did not study how genes affect working dogs that are bred to perform specific tasks.

The study found that the breed accounts for only about 9 percent of behavioral variation in individual dogs and there is no trait unique to a single dog breed. Researchers speculate that much of the remaining differences between dogs are due to individual experiences, training, and other environmental factors.

“We think that nearly all traits are influenced by genetics and the environment,” said Elinor Carlson, study author and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Broad Institute.

Although some traits seem to match existing beliefs about the breed, others go against deep-rooted stereotypes. Labrador and Golden Retrievers scored, on average, high in “human socialization” – a measure of how receptive a dog is to unfamiliar people. This discovery goes hand in hand with these breeds’ reputation as friendly dogs. But American pit bull dogs, a breed was Banned in some cities and often Not allowed The study found that living in apartment complexes due to the belief that they are aggressive and destructive, they also scored high on social contact.

“We learned that what we discovered was not aligned with people’s stereotypes and what they feel is their experience with dogs,” Carlson said.

The study found that dogs’ size had almost no effect on differences in behavior between individual dogs, such as breed. “You wouldn’t have a Chihuahua as big as a Chihuahua, and you wouldn’t have a big Chihuahua,” Carlson added, “but you can certainly have a Chihuahua that behaves like a Great Dane, and you can have a great Dane with the same personality as a Chihuahua.”

Some traits were more likely to be associated with specific breeds – but those were largely related to functional behaviors such as howling, pointing, retrieving, herding and playing with toys. On average, beagles and hounds are more likely to howl. Short term German indicators are likely to indicate. Herding breeds tend to be more imposing – or easier to train – and playful with toys than other breeds. As expected, breeds classified as retrievers have a greater tendency to retrieve than other types of dogs.

However, many individual beagles howl rarely, and some golden retrievers refuse to bring them; The study found that the dog breed does not guarantee any specific behavior.

Traits such as howling and herding were categorized as “motor patterns” in the study, and these behaviors were present in dogs long before the emergence of the modern breeds about 200 years ago in the Victorian era.

“Motor patterns were present before dogs existed and were present in the first dogs that disposed of human waste,” said Catherine Lord, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine and another author of the study.

The first dogs in existence evolved from wolves more than 2,000 years ago and developed traits that helped them live alongside humans, where they could survive by eating people’s leftovers instead of hunting. Humans Help promote desirable traits in early dogs by feeding and nurturing them, helping beneficial dogs to live longer and produce more puppies. Only in the past 200 years did people begin to choose specific physical traits to produce dogs that belong to our modern breed categories.

The researchers also asked thousands of people to identify the breeds most closely related to 30 mixed-breed dogs, and found that people could not easily identify the mutated breed. Respondents performed slightly better than random chance when choosing the closest mixed breed of dog.

Dispelling stereotypes about our dogs may help people make informed choices when choosing pets and may also influence breed-specific laws and policies that prevent people from owning certain dogs, the study authors said.

“There are some breeds that are judged fair and unfairly,” Alonso said.