A new study may shatter dog breed preconceptions. UMass Chan Medical School researchers found 11 canine genomic regions highly linked to behavior. Interestingly, none are breed-specific.
The scientists obtained DNA sequences from over 2,000 purebred and mixed-breed dogs and extensive behavioral evaluations from over 18,000 pup parents. Their findings imply breed is weak or irrelevant for determining dog behavior.
“Although ‘friendliness’ is the trait we commonly associate with Golden Retrievers, what we found is that the defining criteria of a Golden Retriever are its physical characteristics
the shape of its ears, the color and quality of its fur, its size—not whether it is friendly,” said senior author Elinor Karlsson, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan and director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute.
The personality of any dog is influenced by heredity, although breed is not a good predictor.
Behaviors associated with certain breeds also appeared in unexpected breeds. Labrador Retrievers had the lowest howling rate, yet 8% of owners said their dogs sometimes howled.
Greyhound parents reported that 90% of their dogs never bury toys, while three called their dogs “frequent buriers.”
This finding may help dispel preconceptions about violent breeds like Pit Bulls and other physically similar canines. Pit Bull aficionados will be unsurprised that the breed scored well on human friendliness.