Topline

Though some breeds of dogs—such as the “courageous” Bulldog and the “devoted” Golden Retriever—are popularly believed to show certain personality traits, a study published by Thursday Science found that breed is a poor predictor of personality, accounting for just 9% of variation in behavior among dogs.

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Researchers consulted the American Kennel Club’s directory to identify stereotypical beliefs about breed personality traits—for instance, that Labrador Retrievers are “friendly” and “outgoing,” while Border Collies are “smart” and “energetic.”

Researchers sequenced the DNA of 2,155 dogs to identify their ancestry and surveyed owners on the dogs’ behavior, finding that, while the breed does have a slight effect on behavior, it is a weak predictor of how any individual dog will behave.

Researchers identified 11 areas of genetic code associated with behaviors like how often a dog howls and sociability toward humans, though none of those genetic markers was exclusive to a particular breed.

The study did confirm that some stereotypical behaviors had a genetic basis—for instance, researchers identified a link between Border Collie ancestry and biddability, the propensity to respond well to training.

On the other hand, some stereotypical behaviors had no genetic basis—researchers found no link between Labrador Retriever ancestry and sociability toward humans, a trait popularly associated with the breed.

Researchers collected information from Darwin’s Arka database of owner-submitted information on 31,415 dogs.