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Dog breed differences in visual communication with humans

By A. Konno, T. Romero, M. Inoue-Murayama, A. Saito, T. Hasegawa

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Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) have developed a close relationship with humans through the process of domestication. In human-dog interactions, eye contact is a key element of relationship initiation and maintenance. Previous studies have suggested that canine ability to produce human-directed communicative signals is influenced by domestication history, from wolves to dogs, as well as by recent breed selection for particular working purposes. To test the genetic basis for such abilities in purebred dogs, we examined gazing behavior towards humans using two types of behavioral experiments: the 'visual contact task' and the 'unsolvable task'. A total of 125 dogs participated in the study. Based on the genetic relatedness among breeds subjects were classified into five breed groups: (Ancient, Herding, Hunting, Retriever-Mastiff and Working). We found that it took longer time for Ancient breeds to make an eye-contact with humans, and that they gazed at humans for shorter periods of time than any other breed group in the unsolvable situation. Our findings suggest that spontaneous gaze behavior towards humans is associated with genetic similarity to wolves rather than with recent selective pressure to create particular working breeds.

Publication Title PLoS One
Volume 11
Issue 10
Pages e0164760
ISBN/ISSN 1932-6203
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0164760
Language English
Author Address Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Kojimachi 5-3-1, Chiyoda, Tokyo,
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal reproduction
  3. Animals
  4. Animal science
  5. Anthropology
  6. Anthrozoology
  7. Behavioral research
  8. Breed differences
  9. Canidae
  10. Canine
  11. Carnivores
  12. Dog Breeds
  13. Dogs
  14. Domestic animals
  15. Domestication
  16. Eyes
  17. Game animals
  18. Human behavior
  19. Humans
  20. Hunting
  21. Interactions
  22. Livestock
  23. Mammals
  24. Men
  25. Pets and companion animals
  26. Primates
  27. Psychiatry and psychology
  28. Relationships
  29. Reproduction
  30. Research
  31. Social psychology and social anthropology
  32. vertebrates
  33. Wolves
  34. Zoology