Good Boy Brain

Who’s a good boy?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science.

From pugs to German shepherds, dogs are a diverse bunch! And humans have bred them to perform all kinds of jobs. They’ve mastered tracking, guarding, pest control… and being our best friends! But did centuries of breeding alter more than just the appearances of our canine companions?

Erin Hecht of Harvard University wondered. Her team ran brain scans on more than sixty dogs from thirty-three breeds.

What did they find?

Dogs of different breeds have MAJOR differences in brain anatomy. These differences depend on what job the dog was bred for. Scent hunters, like beagles, have more brain mass in the region responsible for smell and taste.

Breeds tasked with pest control, like miniature schnauzers? Their brains have a unique structure of the network used for social interaction. This study helps scientists understand the link between brain structure and animal behavior!

So get the right dog for the job! But whatever a poochie’s brain looks like, ONE thing’s for sure: sheep herder or a couch potato, he IS a good boy!