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Born that way? Dog breed traits are rooted in their genetics, study shows

| | January 11, 2019

American Kennel Club descriptions of dog breeds can read like online dating profiles: The border collie is a workaholic; the German shepherd will put its life on the line for loved ones. Now, in the most comprehensive study of its kind to date, scientists have shown that such distinct breed traits are actually rooted in a dog’s genes. The findings may shed light on human behaviors as well.

[I]n the new study, Evan MacLean, a comparative psychologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues began by looking at behavioral data for about 14,000 dogs from 101 breeds.

In all, the team identified 131 places in a dog’s DNA that may help shape 14 key personality traits. Together, these DNA regions explain about 15% of a dog breed’s personality, with each exerting only a small effect. Trainability, chasing, and a tendency to be aggressive toward strangers were the most highly heritable traits.

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The locations of these DNA hot spots make sense: Some are within or close to genes tied to aggression in humans, for example, whereas DNA associated with the dog’s level of trainability is found in genes that in humans are associated with intelligence and information processing.

The findings suggest behavior is guided by the same genes in many species, MacLean says.

Read full, original post: Dog breeds really do have distinct personalities—and they’re rooted in DNA

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