Your dog’s breed isn’t what determines its behavior, new study shows

Darwin’s Ark study found only 9% of a dog’s behavior can be explained by its breed

A new study shows that your dogs breed is only a small factor in how they behave.

There’s a big new study out challenging common beliefs about the behavior of dogs.

There are plenty of dog breeds. For some, like Lauren Rogers and her husband, who didn’t grow up with dogs, breed was a deciding factor when choosing their dog.

“We’ve always heard golden retrievers were really good family dogs; really fun loving,” said Rogers. “That’s kind of why we chose him.”

Through Darwin’s Ark, researchers surveyed 18,385 dog owners and studied the genetics of 2,155 dogs including pure breed and mixed breed.

The results were published in the current issue of Science. The study shows breed only explains 9% of dog’s behavior.

“As someone who hasn’t had a dog before, I was really surprised by that. So I thought that when you picked a golden retriever, you would get the same type of dog all around,” Rogers said.

She said this new data proves what she’s been noticing the last two years isn’t unique.

“Some things that people are like ‘Oh those are typical golden retriever traits,’ I haven’t seen in Izzo, our dog and certain things that I was expecting, just didn’t line up so it’s very funny,” said Rogers.

Bonny Wainz, has trained dogs for decades and isn’t surprised by the study results. She says she constantly tells her clients, “there’s always nurture and then nature.”

Wainz has never been one to define a dog by its breed. When referring to a chihuahua she said, “this dog knows how to sit, knows how to stay, she knows how to calm, knows how to do down, knows how to do all that stuff. Even though all we want to do is just kind of have them and coddle them.”

The new research also reveals that a dog’s behavior and personality are shaped more from genetics and their environment, something Wainz has explained to her clients for years.

Click here to see the study for yourself.

More: All 4 Pets coverage


About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.