What makes dogs so friendly? Study finds genetic link to super-outgoing people

That is the biggest perks of being a dog owner: your dog is excited when you come home, wagging tail, wiggling body and licking you with its tongue. Now, scientists state that they have pinned down genetic basis of this affection…. Using the clues from human with a genetic disorder that make them unusual friendly, the team found the variations among genes make dog more affable than wolves and some dogs friendlier than others.

The genetics of dog behavior might be more relevant for understanding genetics of human behavior than we want thought.

For decades, geneticists found DNA involved in key dog traits, such as size and coat variations. Some DNA seems linked to personality, and one showed that dogs and humans enforce their bonds by gazing each other. But, few studies have pinned particular behaviors to specific genes. There was a remarkable burst of studies with the exception of behavioral studies.

Researchers already know that dogs are hypersocial compared with wolves, and the team confirmed this by comparing behaviors of 18 dogs- some purebreds,  with 10 captive, hand-raised wolves at Institute of Research and Studies in Indiana. As others had shown, the dogs were much friendlier than wolves, though wolves have been raised by human. Both hand-raised dogs and wolves greet human visitors, but dogs continue to interact with human longer than wolves so, even when visited by stranger.

Hypersocial dogs had more DNA disruptions than the more aloof wolves. Disruption on a gene for a protein called GIF21, which regulate the activity of other genes, was associated with the most hypersocial dogs. A relative lack of gene change seems to lead to aloof, wolflike behavior. Changes in that gene in mice cause that species to be hypersocial as well. Two other genes also were linked to sociality in dogs.

This study is very exciting because it provides such strong support for the “survival of the friendliest” hypothesis in dog domestication. In ancient wolves with gene disruptions “fear was replaced by friendliness and a new social partner created.”

In a sense, this is the first paper discover the genes related the high sociability of dog. Human too have the linkage with other primates. “Probably, these two species, namely human and dogs, use the same gene for these social behaviors.”


But, some experts think the study need expanded to more wolves and dogs to make sure about conclusions.



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