“A dog is a mans best friend” is a saying used quite often to refer to the face linking, excitable, tail wagging animals. But have you ever wondered what makes dogs so friendly?
Scientists believe they may have found the answer: its in their genes!
The study carried out by researchers at Oregon State University and Princeton University  investigated the hyper-sociability of domesticated dogs and hand raised wolves to find that dogs were the friendlier animal, as although both dogs and wolves greeted visitors, dogs continued to interact with the visitor (including strangers).
Researchers discovered that this friendliness of dogs may share a genetic basis with the human disease Williams-Beuren syndrome which results from a deletion of part of chromosome 7. The disease is characterised by distinctive facial features, learning difficulties and personality characteristics. They tend to have an outgoing, sociable and friendly personality. Researchers rendered the personality qualities associated with this syndrome similar to the hyper-sociability in dogs, which translates to chromosome 6 in dogs.
The DNA in dogs showed great variations, such as insertions, deletions or duplications, compared to the less sociable wolves, explaining why the hand reared wolves were less sociable than dogs. These variations are also found in the DNA of those diagnosed with Williams-Beuren syndrome and is thought to be responsible for the severity of disease and changes in personality.
This research suggests that both humans and dogs employ the same genes for our sociability and may help to explain why some dogs and breeds are more friendly than others (as they have different variations of the same gene!).
Although this research is a great contribution for the understanding of the genetics in dogs, more research must be done to establish a causal effect.
At Geneblitz, we now offer the Wisdom Panel 2.0 dog DNA test to our clients to allow dog owners to trace their dogs ancestry back to the last three generations! If you wish to order your dog DNA test or would like to ask us a few questions please feel free to contact us on [email protected] or 0191 543 6405.