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Dog's Behavior Mostly Driven by Individual Attributes & Experience Rather Than Breed

NBC “Don’t judge a dog by its cover: New research gives insight into canine behavior” “Breed type explains just 9 percent of variation in behavior of dogs, according to a new study that looked at the DNA of more than 2,000 dogs” by Sarah Sloat NBC News

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Summary by 2244

We certainly have been indoctrinated with only anecdotal evidence that certain breeds of canines are prone to certain behaviors. We are particularly swayed that Pit Bulls, for example, are dangerous. This study, covered by NBC but published Thursday April 28th 2022 in Science, a leading American-based scientific journal, provides some historical context and real DNA-based data suggesting the traits that are more or less profoundly inherited and which are more or less influenced by individuality of each dog and by their environmental/social experience.

The study concluded, based on DNA studies, from saliva from 2,155 dogs of all types of dogs (Pure & Mixed Breed), and surveys of more than 18,000 dog owners, that “breed type explains only 9 percent of variation in behavior.” Eleven gene regions were in this study found to be “significantly associated with behavior, including how often a dog howls and how comfortable a dog is around people.” Surprisingly, to us lay people, “none of these genetic sites are specific to breed.”

Historical data and expert's understanding of evolution help us make sense of these data. Dogs have been around 10,000 years and humans started breeding them 2,000 years ago primarily for the most useful traits needed at the time-hunting and herding. Later, only 150 years ago did “people begin to select dogs for their aesthetic traits and breeds were invented.” As experts assert, 150 years just is too short a span for behavioral traits to be tied to breed. This runs counter to what purveyors of pure breed dogs proclaim. Select your next dog based on the behavior traits it displays routinely.

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