Aggression, trainability and other dog traits linked to genetics in study

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Among 101 dog breeds, scientists found that certain behavioral traits such as trainability or aggression were more likely to be shared by genetically similar breeds. While past studies have looked into the genetic underpinnings of dog behaviors for certain breeds, this research — published October 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B — is the first to investigate a wide swath of breed diversity and find a strong genetic signal.

“Anecdotally, everyone knows that different dogs have different behavioral traits,” says Noah Snyder-Mackler, a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “But we didn’t know how much or why.”

While such a study doesn’t show if or how a genetic variant causes a specific behavior, it points to certain variants that warrant further research into that question.

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Most of these variants were associated with genes considered important to neurological development and function, which is “exactly what you would predict for genes you think might be involved in affecting behavior,” says Carlos Alvarez, a genomics researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Related article:  20 years after the Human Genome Project: Efforts are underway to capture human genetic diversity and catalog missing DNA

Read full, original post: Dog behaviors like aggression and fearfulness are linked to breed genetics

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