Dogs are the most loyal pets of humans. The animal is extremely social and at times guard, help and even rescue humans from accidents. This trait of the animal that differs from other domesticated animals is most likely because of their genes, according to Science Advances finding.
A study published Wednesday in Science Advances reveals that dog genes made them especially open to domestication and hyper social behavior. In short, the scientists report that genetic mutations leave dogs in a state of childlike social and cognitive development, where they seek out contact and attention.
A team of scientists from Indiana in the United States found variations in several dog genes that make them friendlier than wolves, from whom they are descended. Genes are also the reason some dogs are friendlier than others, the team discovered.
“This recent work is providing a possible molecular mechanism that influences social behavior, e.g. friendliness,” Bridgett vonHoldt, an evolutionary biologist from Princeton University who conducted the research.
The researchers studied the behaviour of 18 domesticated dogs and 10 wolves kept in captivity. After a number of tests on sociability and the animals’ abilities to solve problems, the scientists found that dogs are much friendlier and spend more time greeting human strangers and gazing at them.
DNA tests found a link between certain genetic changes and dog behaviour, such as paying attention to strangers. In human beings, such genetic changes are associated with the Williams-Beuren syndrome, which makes people highly sociable.