Home Science Dogs’ Breeds Don’t Dictate Their Personalities, Study Finds

Dogs’ Breeds Don’t Dictate Their Personalities, Study Finds

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Washington (AP) —Studies confirm that dog lovers know — every puppy is truly an individual.

According to new research, many of the common stereotypes of golden retriever, poodle, and schnauzer behavior, for example, are not supported by science.

Some common stereotypes for dog breeds are not supported by science.

Casa cristal / 500px via Getty Images

“There are so many behavioral changes in all breeds, and after all, all dogs are really individuals,” said Erinor Carlson, co-author of the study and geneticist at the University of Massachusetts.

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She said pet owners love to talk about their dog’s personality, as the owners of dog parks in New York show.

Elizabeth Kelly said the English Springer Spaniel was “friendly, but also like a queen bee.” Suly Ortiz described her yellow lab as “she’s really calm, lazy, and shy.”

Elizabeth Kelly is playing with English Springer Spaniel Louise. "Friendly," However "It is also a kind of queen bee."
Elizabeth Kelly is playing with English Springer Spaniel Louise. She is “friendly” to Louise and at the same time she is “a kind of queen bee”.

And Rachel Kim’s mongrel dog is “very independent in character and really loving me and my husband, but quite suspicious of others and other dogs.”

Such enthusiasm from pet owners influenced Carlson’s latest scientific research. She wanted to know how much the behavioral patterns were inherited and how the breed of dog was associated with characteristic and predictable behavior.

Answer: Although physical characteristics such as Greyhound’s long legs and Dalmatian spots are clearly inherited, the breed does not strongly predict the character of an individual dog.

Researchers’ research, published Thursday in Science, organizes large datasets to reach these conclusions. It’s the most edited one to date, said Adam Boyco, a geneticist at Cornell University who wasn’t involved in the study.

Dogs became humankind’s best friends over 14,000 years ago as the only animals domesticated before the advent of agriculture.

Samoyed enjoying the bench in winter.
Samoyed enjoying the bench in winter.

Zanna Pesnina / 500px (via Getty Images)

However, the concept of dog breeds is much more recent. About 160 years ago, people selectively bred dogs to give them certain consistent physical characteristics, such as the texture and color of their coats and the shape of their ears.

Researchers surveyed more than 18,000 dog owners and analyzed the genomes of about 2,150 dogs to find patterns.

They found that some behaviors had at least some genetic evidence, such as howling, pointing, and displaying human familiarity to strangers. However, that inheritance is not strictly inherited along the variety line.

For example, co-author Kathryn Lord, who works with Carlson to study animal behavior, said he found a golden retriever that he didn’t search for.

Some breeds, such as husky and beagle dogs, may have a strong tendency to howl. However, many of these dogs do not, as both owner research and genetic data show.

Some breeds show a tendency towards certain behaviors such as husky and howling.
Some breeds show a tendency towards certain behaviors such as husky and howling.

VIKAS BISHT / 500px (via Getty Images)

Researchers could not find a genetic basis for aggressive behavior or a link to a particular breed.

“The correlation between dog behavior and dog breeds is much lower than expected,” said Jeff Kidd, a geneticist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study.

New York AP reporter Emma H. ​​Tobin contributed to this report.

Follow Christina Larson on Twitter: @larsonchristina

The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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