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Just as in human beings, genetics alone doesn’t decide a dog’s behaviour!

The overall personality of a dog is decided by numerous factors which includes the environment in which the animal lives or has been brought up in (Courtesy Twitter/@DollyXx56)

A recent study busted the long-held belief among dog-lovers and people in general that breed makes a notable difference in the behaviour of these animals. Bringing this to light, a report in smithsonianmag.com stated that irrespective of the breed, any of these animals can be a human being’s favourite and loyal companion and friend.

Published in the journal Science, the genome study concluded that breed alone can’t be a deciding factor to zero on the dog’s personality.

For this study, the scientists conducted a survey of 18,385 dog owners. They were asked about the demeanour of their pet. The questions asked included if the dogs continued to work till it was not completed, their conduct with the strangers – if it was friendly or otherwise, etc.

The DNA of 2,155 pure as well as mixed dogs were sequenced and these compared with the results of the survey.

This comparison was significant as it helped to know that only 9 per cent of the behaviour variation in individual dogs can be expounded by breed.

Sharing her thoughts, Elaine Ostrander who is an expert in canine genetics at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute said: “It’s a major advance in how we think about dog behaviour. No breed owns any particular trait.”

Ostrander was not part of this research.

Like in other spheres of life, there are several stereotypes about particular breeds of dogs. For example, people view Labradors as being more loving and some feel that chihuahuas are more aggressive.

Negating this view, dog behaviour expert, Marc Bekoff of Boulder’s University of Colorado told Katherine J. Wu of Atlantic: “Any good dog trainer will tell you those stereotypes are a disaster. Breeds don’t have personalities. Individuals do.”

It is not that a dog’s breed is completely irrelevant since they throw light on some facets of their personality. As a whole, the researchers found that some attributes are more common in a particular stock. Citing an example, it was realised that border collies are more amenable to take instructions from human beings than other breeds.

Speaking to New York Times, University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School’s researcher Kathryn Lord remarked: "We found things like German shorthaired pointers were slightly more likely to point, or golden retrievers were slightly more likely to retrieve, or huskies more likely to howl, than the general dog population.”. Lord is an author on the paper.

It is significant to note that the study did not find a specific aspect or aspects of behaviour that were ubiquitous or completely missing from the stock.

In conclusion the scientists found that even while some facets of deportment are more likely in some breeds, it is not the type of the canine that helps to predict or decide the dog’s disposition.

Also read: When dogs lick their wounds does it help in healing injuries?

The overall personality is decided by numerous factors which includes the environment in which the dog lives or has been brought up in.

Summarising the study, Evan MacLean who is the director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona said: "Genetics matter, but genetics are a nudge in a given direction. They're not a destiny. We've known that for a long time in human studies, and this paper really suggests that the same is true for dogs."

MacLean was not involved in the research.