Good Dog and Bad Dog: Why Science Says Traits Have Little to Do With Breed

Good Dog and Bad Dog: Why Science Says Traits Have Little to Do With Breed

Physical differences are generally thought to show up in behavior as well (Gettyimages)

The Labradors are sociable and aggressive Pit Bulls, moody Pekingese and so you can continue the list. Dogs, like humans, are prone to the stereotypes. A recent survey by scientists from University of Massachusetts published in the journal Science warned that these behaviors may have less to do with race than previously believed.

According to historical records, races began to emerge during the nineteenth century. Therefore, dogs can have very different physical aspects, such as, a huge great dane is completely different from a small chihuahua. In fgeneral, these differences are thought to manifest in behavior as well.

By explaining the study methodology, scientists explained in their publication that “modern domestic dog breeds are only (approximately) ~160 years old and are the result of selection for specific cosmetic traits. To study how genetics align with breed characteristics” DNA sequencing of “more than 2,000 purebred and mixed breed dogs. Those data, Along with owner surveys, they were used to map genes associated with physical and behavioral traits. depending on the position.

The study analyzed the behavior of stray dogs that had different levels of ancestry from particular breeds (Crisanta Espinosa Aguilar/ Cuartoscuro.com)

The study analyzed the behavior of stray dogs that had different levels of ancestry from particular breeds (Crisanta Espinosa Aguilar/ Cuartoscuro.com)

The doctor Elinor Karlson, of the University of Massachusetts Umass Chan School of Medicine The study’s co-author said the research revealed a wide diversity of behaviors within each breed. “Even if the average is different, you still have a very good chance of getting a dog that is not what people say the breed is supposed to be,” mentioned.

In the study published in Sciencethe science team explained how they analyzed the responses to the survey related to the physical and behavioral traits of 18,385 dogs, nearly half of which were purebred, with genetic data analyzed for 2,155 of them.

This survey suggested that about 9% of the behavioral variation was explained by race. “For the most part we haven’t seen big differences in races, but there are certain (behaviours) that are more racially related than others,” Karlson explained.

There was a high degree of variability between each individual, meaning it's difficult to predict a dog's behavior based on its breed (Gettyimages)

There was a high degree of variability between each individual, meaning it’s difficult to predict a dog’s behavior based on its breed (Gettyimages)

Yes OK no behavior was unique to one racethe screams were more common among beagles, while pit bulls and retrievers were more “humane” or at ease with strangers. Regarding the ancestral differences of each race, specialists have said that, for example, the herding breeds were more docile, among other traits that characterize them.

But the most remarkable point of the research is that there was a high degree of variability between each individual, which means it is difficult to predict a dog’s behavior based on its breed. To determine if genetics explained the common traits, the study looked at the behavior of the stray dogs they had different levels of ancestry from particular races. The results reveal that some traits have a stronger genetic component than others.

Stray dogs with Labrador Retriever ancestry had little qualms about getting wet, but such ancestry seemed unrelated to human sociability. “We would expect that if Labrador retrievers are genetically more social with humans, we should see street dogs with more Labrador retriever ancestry being more social with humans,” Karlsson said.

Finding that suggests a dog's aggression may have little to do with genetics

Finding that suggests a dog’s aggression may have little to do with genetics

Previous analyzes from the same team have shown that sociability with humans is highly heritable, however, Karlsson said, the stray dog ​​results suggest that the genetic variants involved do not appear to be more common in certain breeds. Thus, the variations between different breeds for behavioral traits may be due to environmental influences or, experts said, to the perceptions of each owner.

In this way, the team of experts did not find that the behavior of the dogs analyzed was hereditary, in particular the ease with which a dog is provoked by a frightening trigger, a finding that suggests a dog’s aggression may have nothing to do with genetics.

Guardians “should pay far less attention to any stories about what your dog’s racial ancestry says about his behavior and personality, and watch out for the dog sitting in front of them,” Karlsson recommended. For its part, Daniel Moulins, Professor of Veterinary Behavioral Medicine at Lincoln Universitywho was not part of the research team, believed that genetics could provide information about populations, but it often reveals much less about individuals.

Mills added that unsurprisingly, the results of the University of Massachusetts study indicated that genetics plays little role in canine aggression and criticized legislation specific to allegedly aggressive breeds. “Potentially risky behaviors are unlikely to be controlled by simple genetic mechanisms, as animals must make judgments based on a much larger environment and their developmental history,” he said.

Mills added that he was not surprised that the result of the University of Massachusetts study indicates that genetics plays little role in canine aggression (Photo: Anna Auerbach/Gräfe und Unzer/dpa)

Mills added that he was not surprised that the result of the University of Massachusetts study indicates that genetics plays little role in canine aggression (Photo: Anna Auerbach/Gräfe und Unzer/dpa)

So while many physical traits were associated with breeds, behavior was much more variable from dog to dog. In general, heritability of physical traits was a stronger predictor of breed, but was not necessarily a predictor of breed ancestry in wild dogs.

In another study conducted in the United Kingdom and published Scientific reports, revealed that different races have vastly different lifespans. The analysis of 30,563 UK dog death recordscollected between 2016 and 2020, showed that if jack russell terrier have a life expectancy of 12.72 years at birth, flat-faced breeds tend to have a shorter lifespan. So the french bulldogs they have a life expectancy at birth of only 4.53 years.

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