Humans tinkered with dogs’ looks by selecting for certain aesthetic qualities throughout their domestication, but over time, we began to assign personalities to various breeds. New research contradicts this long-held belief, claiming that a dog’s breed only has a big impact on their look and has nothing to do with their disposition when compared to their environment. Canines and humans once collaborated on jobs such as hunting, guarding, and herding, but canines gradually lost their use in our lives. As organizations like Crufts witnessed contemporary humans go crazy about purebred chihuahuas singing Swan Lake, breeders and dog fans alike began assigning personality types to certain breeds, but do these personality types apply to all people within a breed?
Understanding an animal’s temperament may help determine if it is a good companion or working animal for a house or farm, therefore there are some advantages to trying to forecast an animal’s disposition based on its ancestors. However, if breed assumptions are incorrect, animals may be placed in inappropriate homes, rendering regulations such as the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 useless. In a publication published in Dog Genomics, researchers analyzed the DNA of over 2,000 dogs that were recruited in the community science project Darwin’s Ark to see if or how breed effects a dog’s features.
The dogs in the research were a mix of purebred and mixed-breed dogs, and their DNA sequences were compared to owner surveys about their behavior to see whether there were any links between genotype (DNA) and phenotype (behavior) (their appearance and behavior). Their findings found that while many physical attributes of dogs were linked to distinct breeds, behavior was less predictable. Biddability – a dog’s ability to follow orders from a person – was the most genetically connected of the characteristics that appeared to be tied to certain breeds.
Border collies, like those who participated in the Genius Dog Challenge, had the highest biddability, and this behavior type was shown to be substantially connected to the breed, albeit individual variances still remained. In contrast, “human friendliness,” a feature commonly associated with retrievers, was shown to be unrelated to the breed’s genetics.
The researchers conclude that breed has only a little impact on their conduct, making it “a poor predictor of individual behavior and should not be used to advise decisions pertaining to the choosing of a companion dog.” Instead, it’s more likely that dogs’ personalities are influenced by environmental variables. What’s the takeaway? “You shouldn’t shop from a catalog,” says the author “Elinor Karlsson, the study’s director of vertebrate genomics at the Broad Institute, told Science. “”Each dog is a one-of-a-kind creature.”