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Canine Aggression and Genetic Control

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posted on May, 26 2010 @ 05:52 PM
Well, I found this interesting article about dog aggression.

The control of different behaviours is a complex process that is influenced by both genetics and environmental factors. A new study throws light on interesting connections between canine aggression and genes that are involved in neurotransmission in the brain.

I always say to (future) dog owners to be careful if they want to buy a dog from some dude!
If you really want to buy a dog of some pure breed, at least choose the breeder wisely and make sure you see the cub`s parents too!
There are lots of scumbag "owners" out there.

For his doctoral thesis, Jørn Våge has studied genetically controlled behavioural aspects in dogs, with particular focus on aggression. Behavioural problems in dogs, particularly aggression towards people, are often the reason why otherwise healthy dogs are put down. Aggression and anxiety-related behaviour also has a negative effect on animal welfare because stress influences both the mental and physical health of dogs.

Different breeds of dog with various forms of specific behaviour act as genetic isolates and are therefore suited for use in studies of complex characteristics such as behaviour. Similarities in diseases in dogs and humans also provide good opportunities for comparative studies in the field of medical genetics and dogs can therefore be valuable genetic models for various human disorders.

The central nervous system and its neurotransmitters and intricate networks of receptors play a key role in this study of behavioural genetics. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters in the brain and have an important function in the control of behaviour. Many of the medicines that are used for the treatment of psychological disorders have an effect on these neurotransmitters.

The neurotransmitter systems have many different receptors and enzymes that regulate the production and breakdown of psychoactive substances. All stages of these reactions are controlled by genes and can be potential sources of behavioural changes.
The doctoral study has revealed a variation in genes related to serotonin and dopamine in dogs. Våge used these variations as markers in the study and discovered connections between individual variants of genes and aggressive behaviour in dogs. The thesis also covers studies of genetic activity (expression studies) in different areas of the brain in aggressive and non-aggressive dogs respectively.

posted on May, 26 2010 @ 06:14 PM
That is interesting and about time someone came out with this.
It is especially timely as there seems to be a growing number of dogs, mostly of certain breeds, attacking people, and frequently killing them.

It is good information for those who think that nurture alone is responsible for behavior, be it human or animal.

As to your advice on pet buyers seeing both advised that many times the owner of the puppies and their mother is not the owner of their Sire. He may be across town or a thousand miles away in another State. Serious breeders spend a lot of money trying to breed to the very best.
They should ask if the breeder also shows his dogs, and/or how many AKC or UKC Champions are on his Pedigree. There should be at least 2 of the 4 granparents that are Titled. If not, they may have "puppy mill" stock.

Those Champions are a sign of good breeding, as those folks who always own both parents are more likely to simply be what we call "Back Yard Breeders", and all they care about is making puppies to sell.

This is not to say that you cannot get good dogs from bad stock and vice versa, but I think it is comforting to know that you are getting a dog from breeders who cared about what they were producing.

One thing they should ask for are Temperament Test Certificates.
For most of the docile breeds this is no big thing, but for others it is.

[edit on 26-5-2010 by OhZone]

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 02:18 AM
reply to post by OhZone

Yeah, you`re right!
I mean I`m not in the US, but here in Romania we have professional breeders that are very serious if you want to buy a dog or a cat from them. They always help you choose the animal and they usually have parents from foreign countries.

For example if you want a dog for show, he shows you the "quality" ones (those that respect the AChR criteria of breed standards: the size of the ears, the position of the body, the flanks, the nape, the stop etc.) and if you want to buy a puppy just for companionship he gives you the one with the shorter tail, an eye from a different get the point
. But nonetheless, they work hard to take care of them, physically and emotionally.
I have a cousin that does this for a living now, after 6 years of veterinary medicine and a lot more of hard work.

But of course, they are so many dogs in shelters who want to be adopted!

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