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Loving dogs could be in your genes!

Jack Russell being kissed by owner
© Pexels

A team of Swedish and British scientists joined together to find out whether being a dog person is in our DNA.

By Justine Seraphin, 22 May 2019

To do this, scientists looked at the genetic makeup of thousands of pairs of twins. Indeed, while identical twins share their entire genome, non-identical twins only share about half of their genome. This makes twins the perfect sample to compare the impact of environment versus genetics.

Twins for the win

The study revealed how important genetic makeup actually is when it comes to dog ownership. In the case of identical twins, if one half owned a dog, the other half was also very likely to own a dog. For non-identical twins, it was much less likely for both to own a dog. Scientists attributed this to their relative shared (or not) genomes.

Now of course, our genetic makeup isn’t the only thing that encourages us to get and own a dog. Our environment plays a significant part in that as well. But this study is certainly the first to show just how important hereditary factors are, being estimated at 57% for females and 51% for males.

Lead author of the study and professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University, Tove Fall, said: “these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and modern times.”

Mystery genes

But this is just the beginning. While we know genetics has something to do with our dog-loving ways, we don’t know exactly which genes are responsible.

For Professor Magnusson, senior author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institute, this will be the next obvious step in his research. Once the gene(s) have been identified it will be interesting to find out “how they relate to personality traits and other factors such as allergy.”

Did you ever wonder why you were so obsessed with dogs? Check out your old family albums, chances are, your great-grandparents were obsessed too!