UMass Chan researchers study canine behavior
WORCESTER, Mass. – If you are looking to get a certain breed of dog for its personality, think twice.
A study from UMass Chan Medical School reveals that canine behavior is only slightly influenced by breed.
Dr Elinor Karlsson and Kathleen Morrill set up a community science project called Darwin’s Arc and asked people to register their dogs, answer questions and, in some cases, have their DNA sequenced.
More than 18,000 people responded to the survey, which looked at the genetics of more than 2,000 dogs. Dr Karlsson said they found that adopting a dog of a certain breed does not guarantee you will get a certain personality and that every dog is unique, but there are specific genetic behaviors that breeds share. .
“From my perspective, probably the most interesting things were when we found differences between races that we could connect to genetics,” said Dr. Karlsson, associate professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan. “Although most of the personality traits we looked at didn’t tend to be different between breeds, we did find that a subset of traits, particularly things related to the things working dogs do , like herding, retrieving, or howling something that is often common in hunting dogs, these tended to be more genetic and different between breeds.
“I think it highlights a kind of big environmental component that goes into a dog’s personality and it’s the life experiences, the training you do for your dog, the day to day life, the house you give him provide and that tells me there is a lot people can do to help their dogs live a better life. It’s not all just written in their DNA,” said Morrill, a doctoral student at UMass Chan’s Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Karlsson says the project is still open and they are currently registering more dogs. Learn more here.