Individual Differences are Greater Than Dog Breed Characteristics

The New York Times reported on the 28th that a study of 18,385 dog owners and analysis of 2,155 dog genes showed that predicting dog behavior based on dog breeds alone could be wrong. Here is the explanation.

“Any good dog trainer will tell you those stereotypes are a disaster,” Marc Bekoff, a dog-behavior expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder, tells the Atlantic’s Katherine J. Wu. “Breeds don’t have personalities. Individuals do.” For example, there is a standpoint that breeds such as pit bulls are aggressive, but this is wrong. Pit bull breeds score high on human and social qualities, and it is easy to find videos of pit bulls sitting on people’s laps on the Internet. On the other hand, there is no evidence showing that the ancestors of the Labrador Retriever were highly sociable with humans.

Of course, there are clear differences between dog breeds, and it is not completely impossible to predict behavior based on breed characteristics. Canine genetics expert Professor Eleanor Carlson of MIT Chan Medical School, who participated in the study, said border collies are easier to train than Great Pyrenees because they are “more curious about toys.”

However, on average, the extent to which a breed defines a behavioral trait does not exceed 9%. Besides that, behaviors that appear only in certain breeds are not distinguished. The researchers noted that Siberian huskies had a higher rate of howling than other dogs, but that other dogs also howled.

However, researchers pointed out that there is a certain tendency for behavioral patterns to be hereditary. Although it seems contradictory to the claim that the correlation between breed and specific behavior is low and the probability that the behavior will be passed on to offspring reaches 25%. This probability is the result of both the influence of heredity and the sum of other factors. The researchers also revealed that some behaviors, such as dog intimacy, are cleauenced by genes.

The meaning and value of this study are that although dog behavior is strongly inherited, the classification of whether a dog is friendly, aggressive, or cold, as the American Kennel Club does, was created in the 19th century when modern dog breed classifications were made.

Published On: December 21st, 2022Categories: Dog knowledge