Home Dog behavior Breed has little effect on dog behavior, study finds

Breed has little effect on dog behavior, study finds



Although certain dog breeds, such as the “courageous” Bulldog and the “devoted” Golden Retriever, are generally considered to exhibit certain personality traits, a study published Thursday by Science found that breed is a poor predictor of personality, accounting for only 9% of behavioral variation in dogs.


The researchers searched the American Kennel Club directory to identify stereotypical beliefs about the breed’s personality traits – for example, that Labrador Retrievers are “friendly” and “sociable”, while Border Collies are “intelligent”. ” and “energetic”.

The researchers sequenced the DNA of 2,155 dogs to identify their ancestry and asked owners about the dogs’ behavior, finding that while breed had a small effect on behavior, it was a weak predictor of dog behavior. an individual dog.

Researchers have identified 11 areas of genetic code associated with behaviors such as how often a dog howls and how social it is towards humans, although none of these genetic markers are exclusive to any particular breed.

The study confirmed that some stereotypical behaviors had a genetic basis – for example, researchers identified a link between Border Collie ancestry and submissiveness, the propensity to respond well to training.

On the other hand, some stereotypical behaviors had no genetic basis – researchers found no link between Labrador Retriever ancestry and sociability towards humans, a trait commonly associated with the breed.

The researchers gathered information from Darwin’s Ark, a database of owner-submitted information on 31,415 dogs.


The researchers found that certain behaviors were associated with different categories of races. Sheepdog breeds, such as the German Shepherd, tended to be more likely to be submissive, more engaged with their surroundings, and more aloof to others compared to other breeds, while Miniature breeds, such as the Pomeranian, tended to be less likely to be submissive and less sociable towards others. dogs compared to other breeds.

Key context

For most of human history, dogs were likely bred for functional roles like hunting and herding, the researchers said. Modern breeding, in which dogs are selected for appearance and pure ancestry, did not emerge until the middle of the 19th century. Because companion animals like dogs are closely monitored, they are a natural resource for researchers wanting to study the genetic basis of complex traits like personality, the study authors said. Science study. The authors concluded that dog personality traits arose before modern breeding, and that modern breeds are distinguished primarily based on their appearance rather than their behavior.


Although race has a small influence on behavior, it has a stronger effect on behavior than height, gender or age, the researchers said.

Further reading

“Pandemic puppies: tackling a growing problem” (Forbes)