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Breeds have little influence on dog behavior

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We are all aware of the age-old stereotypes that surround certain dog breeds, for better or for worse.

We can often call Golden and Labrador Retrievers happy, but not so bright. Unfortunately, many consider Pit Bulls and other breeds of bullies to be inherently mean or susceptible to snapping. However, many of their fans will tell you that these breeds are just big softies.

Some consider Chihuahuas and other small breeds to be less trainable. They might allow them to get away with canine behavior that would not be acceptable to a German Shepherd.

But how many of these preconceptions about our dogs are true?

With Dog Behavior, Breed Isn’t What Matters

A UMass Chan Medical School study of more than 2,000 purebred and mixed breed dogs, published in Science, suggests that behavioral traits in dogs are not breed specific.

“Although ‘friendliness’ is the trait we commonly associate with Golden Retrievers, we have found 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’s friendly,” said lead author Elinor Karlsson, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan and director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University from Harvard. “Although genetics plays a role…a specific breed of dog is not a good predictor of these traits.”

Genetic differences between breeds primarily affected the genes that control physical traits – far more than breed differences affected dog behavior.

“The majority of behaviors that we consider to be characteristics of specific modern dog breeds are most likely the result of thousands of years of evolution from wolves, to wild dogs, to domestic dogs, and finally to modern breeds,” said Karlson.

“These inherited traits predate our concept of modern dog breeds by thousands of years. Each breed inherited the genetic variation carried by these ancient dogs, though not always at exactly the same frequencies. Today, these differences manifest by personality and behavioral differences observed in some dogs of the same breed, but not all.

Preparing your dog for success, regardless of breed

It may be that some of our struggles with our pets are based on our own typing. Many small dog parents think their dogs can’t be trained, but there’s little evidence to suggest this is true – it’s more likely that, because dog parents can easily “control” small dogs, we just consider them less of a problem. than a Rottweiler rushing or barking. However, that doesn’t mean your dog’s breed is irrelevant.

Nutritional differences are common between dog breeds, so you can help your pup by researching and asking a veterinarian what is the best food for him. The same goes for exercise requirements; your Australian Shepherd mix will probably need a longer jog than the neighbor’s English Bulldog.

Research your dog’s breed and what others are saying about it. But don’t let it entirely shape your perception of your puppy. They are still an individual, and they can easily have differences in temperament and personality from what the breed is known for.