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Puppies Might Be Genetically Programmed to Love Humans

Genetics at its cutest. Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Genetics at its cutest. Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Although we have many shortcomings, it is nice to find out that someone really likes us, but they have no choice but naturally doing so. It is confirmed by the recently published study in the journal Scientific Reports that dogs’ love towards humans could be written into their genes.


Being quite different from other canines, for instance, wolves, dogs are naturally easy to get along with humans. This fact draws kind of curious questions about how their affectionate personalities had been developed. In order to investigate such puzzle, a group of researchers have hundreds of beagles participate in a test in which they had to try getting food put inside boxes with transparent lids.


In front of each dog, there were three boxes, one of which had its lid bolted shut, so it was impossible for dogs to take the food out. The purpose of such experiment was to know how much time it took each dog to resort to the human help, either they would make eye contact or just run over to them.

it is known that wolves, unlike dogs, depend on their own persistence when they are having difficult tasks. However dogs appear to be naturally dependent on humans when they need the help.


Some dogs were more reluctant than others to try getting help from human beings, which made it possible for scientists to rank them in order of sociability. By doing so, they then took DNA from the 95 dogs with the highest and lowest scores so as to do analysis of their genomes and find out whether any particular genetic traits might be relative to a high or low affinity for humans.


It is discovered that five genes, occurring in two different genomic areas, seem to be have relation with a propensity for human contact. It is also quite interesting that some of these genes are actually linked with certain personality traits in humans as well.


For instance, it is found out that a gene known as SEZ6L was connected with dogs’ dependence on people, and is also linked with autism in humans. Similarly, a gene called COMT is associated with aggression in adolescents, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia.


In the interview with The Guardian, Per Jensen, the study co-author, said that despite these results, genes were  possibly just partially responsible for dogs’ love of humans, and the genetic contribution to this variation was only about 30%, therefor 70% of the variation were involved in has to do with things such as experience.


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