New Study Shows That Being a Dog Lover Might Literally Be in Your DNA
If you are a dog person, you might be able to thank genetics for that.
Swedish and British researchers recently conducted a study “aimed to investigate the heritability of dog ownership,” by looking at a sample of more than 35,035 identical twins, who often share close to 100 of their DNA, and fraternal twin pairs, who often share around 50 percent of their DNA, born between 1926 and 1996.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, looked to see how “additive genetic effects (the heritability),” shared environmental effects and non-shared environmental effects affected each twins likelihood of having a dog.
“We found that additive genetic factors largely contributed to dog ownership, with heritability estimated at 57% for females and 51% for males,” reads the study’s abstract, which adds that twins often only shared environmental effects in early adulthood and that the study found a “strong genetic contribution to dog ownership in adulthood.”
Through research, the study found that if one identical female twin owns a dog, that there is a 40 percent chance her twin would as well. For fraternal female twins, that likelihood drops down to 25 percent.
For male identical twins, if one owns a dog, there was a 29 percent chance that his twin would own a dog as well, compared to 18 percent in fraternal male twins.
“Some people are dog people, some are not,” Tove Fall, the study’s lead author and a professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University, said. “And our findings suggest that inherited factors may explain the difference.”
The study’s findings will help researchers better understand how dog ownership improve our lives, from lowering the risk of allergies and asthma to bettering our sleep patterns.
Researchers involved with the study say the next step will be to identify genetic variants that affect the choice of whether or not to own a dog.
Humans began domesticating dogs 15,000 years ago, and researchers say these studies into the DNA of dog lovers could help our understanding of why dogs were domesticated in the first place.