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Genetics Control Desire behind Raising Dogs

Genetics Control Desire behind Raising Dogs

Monday, 20 May, 2019 - 05:00
Boy from Mongolia with pet dog. Timothy Allen/Getty Images
Cairo - Hazem Badr

A research conducted by British and Swede researchers, and involving 35,000 Swede registered twins, found that "genetics may stand behind an individual’s desire to raise a dog."

Dogs and humans have been enjoying a tight relationship for the past 15,000 years. However, in their study published in the journal Scientific Reports on Friday, researchers sought to know "whether a genetic factor controls an individual's desire to raise a dog. For this purpose, they studied the link between twins and dogs."

Studying twins is a well-known method for disentangling the influences of environment and genes on our biology and behavior. Because identical twins share their entire genome, and non-identical twins on average share only half of the genetic variation, comparisons of the within-pair concordance of dog ownership between groups can reveal whether genetics play a role in owning a dog.

Tove Fall, lead author of the study, and researcher at Uppsala University, wrote in a report published on the university's website: "We found that dog ownership compatibility rates were much higher in identical twins than in non-identical twins, which emphasizes that heredity plays a major role in the desire to own a dog."

Fall described the findings as "surprising" and "have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times. Some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others."

Co-author Keith Dobney, and zooarchaeologist at the University of Liverpool, said: "The study has major implications for understanding the deep and enigmatic history of dog domestication.”

“Decades of archaeological research have helped us construct a better picture of where and when dogs entered into the human world, but modern and ancient genetic data are now allowing us to directly explore why and how,” he added.

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