By looking at the areas of the dogs’ brains that varied most across the breeds, the scientists were able to create maps of six neural networks linked to certain functions, such as the sense of smell or movement.
The team found the shape of these networks “correlated significantly” with common traits associated with each breed, as described by the American Kennel Club.
“Brain anatomy varies across dog breeds,” Dr Hecht said, “and it appears that at least some of this variation is due to selective breeding for particular behaviours like hunting, herding and guarding.”
In other words, not only do the shapes and sizes of canine brains vary by breed, the structures within those brains also are different.
This discovery helps explain what makes a Maltese act like a Maltese, or a boxer like a boxer.