The canid genome: behavioral geneticists' best friend?

Genes Brain Behav. 2012 Nov;11(8):889-902. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2012.00851.x. Epub 2012 Oct 12.


We review a range of studies on the genetic contribution to behavior in canid species. We begin by identifying factors that make canids a promising model in behavioral genetics and proceed to review research over the last decade that has used canids to identify genetic contributions to behavior. We first review studies that have selectively bred dogs to identify genetic contributions to behavior and then review studies that estimate heritability from populations of non-laboratory bred dogs. We subsequently review studies that used molecular genetics to identify gene-behavior associations and note associations that have been uncovered. We then note challenges in canid behavioral genetics research that require further consideration. We finish by suggesting alternative phenotyping methods and identify areas in which canids may have as yet unexploited advantages, such as in gene-environment interaction studies where genetic factors are found to moderate the effects of environmental variables.

Keywords: Belyaev foxes; GWAS; GXE; canine behavior; genetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs / genetics*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Research
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Genome / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Selective Breeding
  • Species Specificity