Give Now  »

Noon Edition

The Genetics Behind Dog Breeds

German shepherds are known for being trainable and intelligent. They are well-behaved and will often listen to everything they are told.

In a preliminary report, researchers found that the personality traits we ascribe to different dog breeds have a basis in the dogs' DNA.

The scientists examined behavioral data for 14,000 dogs that were 101 different breeds, using results from C-BARQ, or the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, a personality test for dogs.

The test has pet owners answer questions about their dog's behavior to test 14 aspects of personality such as trainability, aggression and attachment. The scientists then compared the behavioral data with genetic data for different dog breeds.

They found 131 regions in the dogs' DNA that are associated with differences in the 14 different personality traits, and their results indicate that these regions could explain about 15% of a dog breed's personality. The traits that seemed most influenced by genetics were trainability, chasing and aggression towards strangers.

Interestingly, many of the genes that predict certain traits in dogs were the same as ones in humans--for example, the genes that predict trainability in dogs are the same genes that have also been associated with intelligence in humans.

Sources And Further Reading

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science