New Study Finds Wanting a Dog Is in Your Genes

Kids are sure to use this one to convince their parents they deserve a puppy.

If you're a dog lover, you might wonder why you and your cat-loving friends don't see eye-to-eye. Why can't they understand that having a canine companion offers an unparalleled amount of unconditional love and devotion? Or that a pup's loyalty makes up for all of hassle they also bring into our lives? Well, a new study published in Scientific Reports says that the answer may lie in your genes.

A team of British and Swedish scientists studied the genes of more than 35,000 twins from the Swedish Twin Registry. (Analyzing the lifestyle choices of twins is a well-known way of finessing the nature-versus-nurture debate, i.e. determining how much of our desires are influenced by our genes versus how we are raised.) In this case, the researchers determined that the rates of dog ownership were much higher among identical twins versus fraternal ones, leading them to believe that some people really do have a biological urge towards owning a dog.

"We were surprised to see that a person's genetic make-up appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog," Tove Fall, a professor in molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University and lead author of this study, said in a university newsletter. "As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times. … Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others."

Patrik Magnusson, an associate professor in epidemiology at Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden, and co-author of the study, added that the research "demonstrates for the first time that genetics and environment play about equal roles in determining dog ownership." According to Magnusson, "The next obvious step is to try to identify which genetic variants affect this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors, such as allergy."

And for more insight into why the canine-human bond is so strong, check out this study on why we love puppies as much as we do.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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