New study finds a common genetic basis for social behavior in dogs and humans

Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017
by Pooja Makhijani

Dogs’ ability to communicate and interact with humans is one the most astonishing differences between them and their wild cousins, wolves. A new study published today in the journal Science Advances identifies genetic changes that are linked to dogs’ human-directed social behaviors and suggests there is a common underlying genetic basis for hyper-social behavior in both dogs and humans.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers, including those from Princeton University, sequenced a region of chromosome 6 in dogs and found multiple sections of canine DNA that were associated with differences in social behavior. In many cases, unique genetic insertions called transposons on the Williams-Beuren syndrome critical region (WBSCR) were strongly associated with the tendency to seek out humans for physical contact, assistance and information.

 

Read more about this research on genetic changes that are linked to dogs' human-directed social behaviors here.