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An approach to canine behavioural genetics employing guide dogs for the blind

By Y. Takeuchi, C. Hashizume, S. Arata, M. Inoue-Murayama, T. Maki, B. L. Hart, Y. Mori

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The purpose of this study was to attempt to find related variables of the canine genome with behavioural traits of dogs maintained and tested in a guide dog facility which provided a relatively uniform environment. The study involved 81 Labrador Retrievers that were being trained as guide dogs. Each dog was taken on walk-out sessions in which the trainer weekly recorded observations that were related to behavioural traits. The records were subjected to key-word analysis of 14 behaviour-related words. A factor analysis on the appearance rate of the 14 key words or phrases resulted in the extraction of six factors that accounted for 67.4% of the variance. Factor 1, referred to as aggressiveness, was significantly related to the success or failure of the dog in qualifying as a guide dog, and was also related to the variable of litter identification. Factor 2, referred to as distraction, was related to the variable of trainer. Factor 3, activity level, was related to the variable of sex, and was significantly related to the polymorphisms of c.471T>C in the solute carrier family 1 (neuronal/epithelial high affinity glutamate transporter) member 2 gene and c.216G>A in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene. The involvement of polymorphisms c.471T>C and c.216G>A in behavioural patterns related to activity level is similar to comparable genetic studies in other mammalian species. These results contribute to a greater understanding of the role of these genes in behaviour.

Date 2009
Publication Title Animal Genetics
Volume 40
Issue 2
Pages 217-224
ISBN/ISSN 0268-9146
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2008.01823.x
Language English
Author Address Laboratory of Veterinary Ethology, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Analysis
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animal genetics
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Carnivores
  7. Dogs
  8. Genes
  9. Genetics
  10. Genomes
  11. Guide dogs
  12. Mammals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. polymorphism
  16. Research
  17. Studies
  18. traits
  1. peer-reviewed