No, the breed of the dog does not predict its behavior.

According to a new study published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science, stereotypes related to dog breeds are largely unfounded. Many behavioral traits can be inherited. But race is only a partial predictor of most traits – or not at all for certain traits, such as affection or anger.

Dog breed is not effective in predicting its behavior.

“Genetics play a role in the personality of any individual dog, but breed does not predict these traits effectively,” explains Elinor Karlsson, one of the authors of this work, which involved more than 2,000 dogs. dogs and over 200,000 responses from owners.

“What we have shown is that the defining behavior for a golden retriever is their physical characteristics – the shape of their ears, the color and quality of their coat, their size. But not if they are loving, “he added. However, such stereotypes are sometimes found in the law, such as the pit bull ban in the UK and many US towns.

2,000 dogs studied for their behavior

The researchers sequenced the DNA of 2,155 pedigree or crossbred dogs to find common genetic variation that would help predict their behavior. They combined these results with responses to questions from 18,385 dog owners. The site used is called Darwin’s Ark, and represents a free access database that brings together information provided by the owners of their animal’s behavior.

The researchers considered in their analysis stereotypes that could potentially affect the responses. They create specific definitions for certain traits, such as obedience, sociability, or interest in toys. Physical characteristics are also studied.

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Scientists have finally found 11 areas in the genome that are associated with behavioral differences, including obedience, the ability to pick up something, or even beetle. In these cases, the race plays a specific role: beagles and bloodhounds are more vocal, border collies are more obedient, more than shiba inus.

But the study nonetheless shows that there are exceptions every time. So even if Labradors are the least likely to beetle, 8% of them still beetle. And if 90% of greyhounds don’t bury their toy, 3% always do.

Dog breed explains only 9% of behavioral differences

In addition, by observing the responses to several questions related to possible aggressive reactions in dogs, “we did not see any effect of the breed”, explains Elinor Karlsson. Overall, the race explained only 9% of the behavioral differences. So age is better at predicting certain behaviors, such as having fun with a toy. Physical characteristics can be five times better predictable by race than behavior.

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Behavioral differences within the same dog breed

Before the 1800s, dogs were primarily bred for their hunting duties, to guard the house or herds. But the concept of “modern dog distinction, emphasizing physical values ​​and genetic purity, is a Victorian invention,” the study focused on.

Dogs within a breed may behave differently, with some inheriting genetic differences from their ancestors, and others not. Interesting fact: people’s sociability is so inherited from dogs, even if it doesn’t depend on race.

The researchers found an area in canine DNA that could explain 4% of sociability differences between individuals. And this area corresponds to one, the human genome, which is responsible for the formation of long -term memory.

Possible links between the behavior of dogs and humans?

“It may be that understanding people’s sociality in dogs can help understand how the brain develops and learns,” Kathleen Morrill, lead author of the study, said in a press conference. The next step, according to him, is to look at behavioral disorders in dogs, and their possible relationships with humans.

“You can’t ask a dog what their problems, their thoughts, their worries are, but they know they live rich emotional lives and suffer from diseases they find themselves in. their behavior, “the researcher explained.

Understanding the links between race and behavior can help determine which genes are responsible for certain psychiatric disorders in humans, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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