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What does a dog’s breed say about its personality?

Dog_(Canis_lupus_familiaris)
Credit: Ken Billington

A big myth about dogs is that their personality has a lot to do with their breed. In reality, all dogs can be good dogs, and we have the science to back that up!

Scientists turned to dog-owners to answer questions about their pups’ behavior. The questions ranged from whether their dogs were friendly to strangers to little things like whether they saw their dogs circle before pooping. In total, researchers got help from owners of 18,385 dogs and processed the DNA of nearly 2,155 pups!

With their results, we now know that breeds don’t really have personalities, but individual dogs do! In fact, breed seemed to be responsible for only 9% of the differences we see in individual dogs.

On the whole, some traits were common for entire breeds—for example, huskies were more likely to howl, and golden retrievers did seem more likely to retrieve things than the general dog population. However, no single behavioral trait was present or missing in all dogs of a breed. In other words, some behaviors were more common in some breeds, but that doesn’t tell you too much about the personality of a particular dog!

Instead, the research showed that a dog’s personality is often shaped by much more than just genetics. Factors like its environment, what it eats, and where it lives play more important roles!

 

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