October 22, 2020

Genetics of Dog Breeding – Part 1

Any dog lover knows that Labrador retrievers are friendly, Dalmatians are hyper, and Australian shepherds are smart (Scott & Fuller, 1974). Some dog lovers also know that Labradors are susceptible to hip dysplasia, while deafness and kidney stones run in Dalmatians. But why is this the case? Breeding dogs for particular characteristics, or phenotypes, has been going on for centuries. Dogs are companions and workers, in service to humans, and they have thus been bred to accentuate desired traits. For instance, Dalmatians have long been coach dogs, in part because of their striking looks and their comfort around horses. Bred […]
October 22, 2020

Genetics of Dog Breeding – Part 2

Tameness Many researchers have noted that beyond tameness, dogs appear to retain certain traits associated with juvenile wolves, especially behavioral traits such as whining, barking, and submissiveness. Russian geneticist Dmitry Belyaev focused on tamability as a guiding characteristic. His idea was not only that early humans would have selected the tamest animals to live with them, but also that selecting for a single trait could give rise to an entire set of changes in form, physiology, and behavior. Belyaev thus launched an experiment that would last longer than his life, seeking to test whether selecting for tameness would indeed produce a […]
October 22, 2020

Genetics of Dog Breeding – Part 3

The Dog-Human Relationship In addition to tameness, another unique trait of dogs is their ability to understand humans. For example, if you point or even shift your gaze toward a certain object (say, a jar that contains dog treats), a dog will likely investigate the object (Hare & Tomasello, 2005). Even our closest animal relatives, chimpanzees, do not have this skill. Brian Hare, a German researcher, posits that this is an example of convergent evolution—the emergence of a trait (referred to by Hare as “social skills”) that developed independently in two species. Hare’s working hypothesis is that domestication comes first, […]

Cat lovers check out this Pawsome Blog.