Dog breed is a surprisingly poor predictor of individual behavior

Chihuahuas' batlike ears, poodles' curly fur, and dachshunds' hot dog form are aesthetics. But breeds often have corresponding behaviors. The American Kennel Club calls border collies “affectionate, smart, energetic” and beagles “friendly, curious, merry.”

Genetic data from over 2,000 dogs and owner surveys show that breed does not predict behavior. Science reported April 28 that breed explains only 9% of dog behavioural differences.

In an April 26 news briefing, geneticist Elinor Karlsson of the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School in Worcester remarked

Geneticists had asked the topic in various ways. In 2019, a study discovered that DNA may explain some breed distinctions, such as poodles and chihuahuas

The team needed genetic and behavior data from many canines to explore individual variance. So they created Darwin's Ark

an open-source database where over 18,000 pet owners surveyed their dogs' features and behavior. The poll contained over 100 questions concerning observable actions

which the researchers classified into eight “behavioral factors,” including human friendliness and biddability.

According to Karlsson lab geneticist Kathleen Morrill, studying mutts helps decouple characteristics. That means on an individual basis, you'll have a better chance of mapping a gene related to your issue.

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