top of page

Science is working towards identifying temperament DNA

Ask any experienced breeder (regardless of breed) and they will tell you that their pups inherit personality traits from their sire or dam.

We see this all the time in our breeding, too. Every one of Nikita's daughters has her sassy personality. Narci's sons are all great big lovable doofuses with happy personalities. Poco's babies are sparky little pocket rockets. Taco's babies are just little sweethearts who lived to be loved and cuddled.

And now, it seems, science will soon not only back up this anecdotal observation, but even narrow down certain personality traits to specific DNA.

The Science Magazine website is reporting that in a new study, scientists have been looking at behavioral data for about 14,000 dogs from 101 breeds. Their analyses come from the Canine Behavioral Assessment & Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) developed by James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The team matched up these behavioral data for each breed with genetic data about breeds from different sets of dogs. They studied averages across a specific breed to identify 131 places in a dog’s DNA that may help shape 14 key personality traits. Together, these DNA regions explain about 15% of a dog breed’s personality.

This has profound implications in the long term for breeders. We are already screening for diseases and health issues, but to think, someday, a breeder could select around specific temperament traits through DNA is mind-blowing. As with all discoveries, it has a good and a bad side. Great to be able to breed dogs with, say, less anxiety issues, but just as easily, a breeder could choose to breed for higher levels of aggression in a GSD or Pitbull, for example.

The science is still in its early days yet, but it will be very interesting to see how it develops and how it will affect breeders, individual dog breeds and the overall health of the canine population in general.

bottom of page