Friday, June 28, 2019

Study Shows Genetic Makeup Influences Dog Ownership

Did you know you could inherit a genetic component that effects the likeliness of dog ownership? A study was recently posted to Scientific Reports by a few researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden. For the study, they compared the genetics of 85,542 individuals. Out of these individuals, 50,507 had a twin, where 35,035 pairs included both twins and 15,472 only included one of the twins. Both identical (monozygotic) and nonidentical (dizygotic) twins were present in the study. The purpose of comparing both types of twins was to identify what gene structure is actually different. In this case, if any genes specifically matched among dog owners. The objective of the study is to determine if dog ownership is something heritable.

Structural equation modeling was used to examine the study population. The three main groups were classified as:
A- the contribution of additive genetic effects
C- common/ shared environmental effects
E- unique/ non-shared environmental effects

As you can see from the graph, it is noted that shared environment factors (C) only seemed prevalent in young adults.

In conclusion, evidence of distinct genetics plays a role in dog ownership with adults. Out of the study participants, about 10% were identified as dog owners. Further, dog ownership varied by sex and age. Dog ownership was present in 66% being females and 34% being males (see Table 1).

OC with Yogi
This article was interesting to me because I have lived with a dog since I was two years old. Also, I hope to be a veterinarian one day. So maybe this has something to do with my genes! I believe dogs are a huge factor in the progression of human civilization. Aside from dogs being domesticated thousands of years ago to aid human beings, look at how our relationship with these animals effect society today. Most people approve of animal shelters, veterinary care and pet stores. For what? Dogs (and cats)! It is amazing how dogs have transitioned from being property to being loved as a family member.


  1. When I saw the title of this post I immediately thought of Dog People vs Cat People. It's really cool that there's a gene that is associated with dog ownership. It makes sense that humans and dogs have great relationships because they were domesticated so long ago and I feel like both evolved side by side. Similar to you, I grew up with many dogs (and cats), but I prefer cats over dogs(dont get me wrong, I love my dogs more than life) and I would own much more cats if I could haha. Most of my family members though would rather own dogs. It's really neat to think that the difference of me compared to my family members in the sense of owning a dog could be genetics!

  2. Wow! It's amazing that there is a link between genes and dog ownership. The domestication of dogs led to the coevolution of the species together with humans. It's interesting to see that females had almost double the rate of dog ownership. Like we learned in class, it might have to do with one of the reasons for their domestication which was nursing children, but we also have to take socio-cultural factors into account as well. I also like how you said that most people approve of veterinarians and animal shelters. It really goes to show that we have something intrinsic in us to love our dogs (and cats). Also, Yogi is a cute dog!