It is a common misconception that some breeds of domestic dogs cannot breed. However, the truth is that all breeds of domestic dogs can be crossed to produce reproductively viable pups. This is because their genomes remain relatively unchanged, even though their physical characteristics may appear very different. A recent study conducted by a team of researchers revealed that certain traits were more common in certain breeds.
For example, German shepherds were found to be easier to manage than other breeds, while beagles were not as easy to manage. Additionally, the genetic studies conducted by the team showed that mixed-race
dogswith a particular ancestry were more likely to act in specific ways. For instance, stray dogs with Saint Bernard descent were found to be more affectionate, while stray dogs descended from Chesapeake Bay retrievers had a tendency to destroy doors. It was not until the 19th century that humans began to select dogs for their physical and aesthetic traits that defined the breed.
About 200 years ago, dog lovers in Victorian England began inventing breeds by actively selecting canine traits that were aesthetically pleasing to them. The results of these tests, which included data from 78 breeds, identified 11 genetic loci strongly associated with behavior, although none of them were race-specific. The most significant link occurred between a region of the genome that in humans is involved in cognitive performance, but in dogs it increased the likelihood of being trapped behind objects. A genetic study involving more than 2000 dogs, together with 200,000 responses from dog owners in related surveys, suggests that
breedalone is a poor predictor of behavior.
On average, breed only explained about 9% of the variation in a dog's behavior - much lower than most people would have expected. Humans have been shaping the appearance and behavior of dogs since domestic dogs first evolved from wolves more than 10,000 years ago. Contemporary
purebreddogs are defined by their appearance, but breed is also thought to influence temperament. Despite these generalized assumptions, there is a great lack of genetic research that illustrates a link between race and behavior.The researchers then sequenced the DNA of a subsection of the dogs in the survey to see if ancestry could be related to behavior.
The findings showed that breed only explained less than 10% of the behavioral variation in individual dogs; for certain behavioral traits and survey elements, the dog's age or sex were the best predictors of behavior.Despite being one of the oldest companion animals for humans, almost all modern dog breeds were only invented about 200 years ago. As such, it is important to note that while breed may influence temperament and behavior, it is not always an accurate predictor.