Treats and Traits

Can you PAW-sitively predict a dog’s personality by its breed?

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

Friendly golden retrievers. Mischievous huskies. Are these personality differences part of nature…or nurture?

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts led by Kathleen Morrill wanted to know. They collected thousands of behavioral surveys from dog owners. Then, they analyzed the DNA of two-thousand dogs! They wanted to see if dogs that act alike shared genes. 

Results? Breed determines how a dog LOOKS more than how it behaves. A dog’s breed predicts less than NINE PERCENT of behavior.

And the genes that distinguish between dog breeds aren’t even that old! Chances are, the types of dogs you’re familiar with developed less than two-hundred years ago.

As you pick out another furry friend, don’t judge a book by its cover. After all, a dog’s breed is not a guarantee of its personality!

 Whether a dog is purebred, or a mystery mutt from the pound…

There’s always a chance that he is a good boy!

Reference: Morrill, K., Hekman, J., Li, X., McClure, J., Logan, B., Goodman, L., Gao, M., Dong, Y., Alonso, M., Carmichael, E., Snyder-Mackler, N., Alonso, J., Noh, H. J., Johnson, J., Koltookian, M., Lieu, C., Megquier, K., Swofford, R., Turner-Maier, J., . . . Karlsson, E. K. (2022). Ancestry-inclusive dog genomics challenges popular breed stereotypes. Science, 376(6592).