WORCESTER, Mass. - If you’re looking to get a certain dog breed for its personality, think twice.
A UMass Chan Medical School study finds canine behavior is only slightly influenced by breed.
Dr. Elinor Karlsson and Kathleen Morrill set up a community science project called Darwin’s Arc and asked people to sign up their dogs, answer questions and, in some cases, sequence their DNA.
Over 18,000 people filled out the survey, which looked at genetics of over 2,000 dogs. Dr. Karlsson said they found adopting a dog of a certain breed doesn’t guarantee you will get a certain personality and every dog is unique, however there are some genetic specific behaviors breeds shared.
“From my point of view probably the most interesting things were when we did find differences between the breeds that we could connect to genetics,” Dr. Karlsson, associate professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan, said. “While most of the personality traits that we looked at didn’t tend to be different between the breeds we did find that a subset of the traits especially things connected to things working dogs do like herding, retrieving, or howling something that is often common in hunting dogs, those tended to be more genetic and different between breeds.”
“I think it highlights kind of the large environmental component that goes into a dogs personality and in that are life experiences, the training you do for your dog, day to day life, the home you provide for it and it tells to me there’s a lot people can do to help their dogs live a better life. It’s not all just written into their DNA,” Morrill, a PhD student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan, said.
Karlsson says the project is still open and they are currently enrolling more dogs. Find out more here.