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5 Dog Behaviors That Have Nothing To Do With Breed

Breed has little to do with dog personality and should not be used to inform decisions relating to the selection of a pet dog, new research has found.

According to a study published in the journal Science, breed is a “poor predictor” of individual behaviors, accounting for just 9% of variation in behavior among pups. Whether you’re wanting to adopt a Labrador Retrievers or miniature Dachshunds, dog personality is down to their environment rather than breed.

In order to conduct the research, scientists analyzed the DNA of more than 2,000 mixed and purebred dogs, mapping genes associated with physical and behavioral traits. While the breed does have a slight effect on behavior (Border Collies, for example, are more energetic than others), it is a weak predictor of how any dog ​​will behave.

Some of the behaviors that are not specific to the breed of a dog include:

  • Sociability towards humans
  • How often a dog howls
  • Retrieving objects
  • Playfulness around other dogs
  • Whether dogs circle before going to the toilet

    Each dog is individual, something which the researchers want owners to remember when considering a new pup.

    “Even if the average is different, you’ve still got a really good chance of getting a dog that doesn’t match what people say that breed is supposed to be,” Dr Elinor Karlsson of the University of Massachusetts Umass Chan medical school, told Guardian. “For the most part, we didn’t see strong differences in breeds, but there are some [behaviours] that are connected to breed more than others.”

    Photos by R. A. KeartonGetty Images

    Elsewhere in the study, researchers found that Pit Bulls were not more aggressive than other dogs, despite their bad reputation. Meanwhile, the team discovered that breeding for appearance is much easier than breeding for behaviour.

    “Match what the dog world has told us—that the behavior of these animals is shaped by their environment, not their breed. You shouldn’t shop out of a catalog. Each dog is an individual,” adds Elinor Karlsson, director of vertebrate genomics at the Broad Institute, who oversaw the study.

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