Sniffing out the genes behind pooch personalities

Comparison of genetic variations and their links to behaviour and physical differences in different dog breeds

source: Ewen Callaway
New Scientist no 2662 June 28 2008 p17

A team from Utah University, Salt Lake City, headed by K. Gordon Lark, has compared dogs from 148 different breeds, looking at both behavioural and physical characteristics. The behavioural characteristics that the team investigated include trainability, exciteability, boldness, and a tendency to herd, while the physical characteristics include size and body proportions. A dopamine receptor gene appears to be linked to boldness in rottweilers. Smaller dogs tend to carry a gene linked to exciteability. Timidity and boldness, however, do not appear to be linked to size. Meanwhile, California's Stanford University's Greg Barsh cautions that it is difficult to explain behaviour completely in terms of genetics. This research has been published in the journal Genetics.