Your Choice to Own a Dog Was Influenced by Your Genetic Makeup, Say Scientists

Our love for man’s best friend could go much deeper than their cuteness and loyalty.

Some are passionate dog people, while others are vehemently cat people. Or maybe you fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum? Though the internet was built on cat videos, today we are going to focus on the former and what science has to say about their owners.

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In a recent study conducted by researchers at Uppsala University, scientists studied the heritability of dog ownership using information from the Swedish Twin Registry. Using this information researchers may have gained some insight into how genetics may play a role in the choice of getting a dog.

It Is All in the Genes

The global dog population is estimated to be somewhere at 900 million. Considered man’s best friend, North America, and Europe lead the world with most amounts of dog owners estimates believed to be as high as 48.5 million and 43 million respectively. There is even a good chance that you own a dog.

However, have you ever thought about what factors have led you to pick a dog? Dogs themselves have had a domesticated relationship with humans for at least 15,000 years, with most even agreeing that dogs increase the well-being and health of their owners.

In order to answer this question, researchers used information from 35,035 twin pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry to determine whether or not dog ownership has a heritable component, and according to the results it does.

The Study

Studying twins is a commonly used method for disentangling the influences of environments and genes on our biology and behavior; they even have used twins to study the effects of space on the human body. Identical twins share their entire genome, and non-identical twins share only half of the genetic variation.

Comparisons within-pair concordance of dog ownership between groups can reveal whether genetics play a role in owning a dog. Within the study, researchers found concordance rates of dog ownership to be much larger in identical twins than in non-identical ones.

This, in turn, supports the view the genetics does indeed play a major role in the choice of owning a dog.

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As stated by Tove Fall, lead author of the study, and Professor in Molecular Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, "We were surprised to see that a person's genetic make-up appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog.”

“As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times.”

The study offers more insight into why and maybe how dogs became man’s best friend.

What type of dog do you have?

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