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A new study found that dog behaviors like human sociability and aggression could have little to do with the breed of the canine.
Stereotypes in canine breeds are ever-present, and dogs like Pitbulls and chihuahuas often get the short end of the stick. However, according to new research, traits could have little to do with the breed of the dog.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Elinor Karlsson from the University of Massachusetts Umass Chan medical school, said that according to their research, there’s a big diversity between behaviors in breeds.
The researchers analyzed survey responses relating to the physical traits and behaviors of over 18,000 pet dogs, half of which were purebred. The team found that purebred dogs suggest about 9 percent of behavior variations could be explained by breed.
“For the most part, we didn’t see strong differences in breeds, but there are some [behaviours] that are connected to breed more than others,” said Karlsson.
They did find that howling was more common with beagles, whereas Pitbulls and retrievers were more “human sociable” and comfortable with strangers. However, they found that in general, predicting a dog’s behavior based on its breed was not an easy task.
Then, the researchers moved on to the mixed breeds and analyzed if they had a different level of ancestry from particular breeds. They found that some traits have a stronger genetic component than others. For example, Labrador retrievers were associated with mutts who did not mind getting wet, but they found no link between retrievers and human sociability, contrary to popular belief.
The results from the mixed breeds revealed that the genetic variants do not seem to be more common in particular breeds. They believe that things like human sociability could be inherited or even learned from environmental influences.
Interestingly (and a big win for Pitbulls), researchers found that how aggressive a dog is could have very little to do with its genetics. The findings could be very important for dog owners and something to keep in mind when going to the shelter to adopt a dog.
Karlsson says that owners “should pay much less attention to all the stories about what their dog’s breed ancestry says about their behaviour and personality, and pay attention to the dog sitting in front of them.”
Breeding dogs is irresponsible, and now we know that these breeds don’t even mean dogs have the traits that we would assume. We should not be putting expectations on dogs based on their breed. Check out your local animal shelter, and always remember to adopt instead of purchase from a puppy mill!
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- Dog Breeders are Selling Unwanted Puppies to Animal Testing Labs
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