Loving a dog might be in your geines

Prior studies have shown that exposure to dogs during childhood can shape a lasting affinity for canine companionship, but researchers wondered if genetic factors might play a role as well. To find out, they examined data from more than 85,000 twins in the Swedish Twin Registry — the world’s biggest twin registry — searching for genetic clues that may be linked to dog ownership in adulthood.

Twin studies offer scientists a chance to compare genetic and behavioral data from two individuals who share either their entire genome (monozygotic twins) or 50% of their genes (dizygotic twins). This can help researchers determine if certain behaviors result from environmental factors or if they’re likely rooted in DNA.
For the new study, the scientists consulted copious twin data and 15 years of records on dog ownership. (Sweden requires all dogs to be officially registered with the Swedish Board of Agriculture, while pedigreed dogs may also be registered with the Swedish Kennel Club.) Of the 85,542 twins evaluated in the study, 8,503 people owned dogs.
The study authors then created computer models to identify patterns among the twins that could represent genetic influence or environmental impacts shaping a lifelong attachment to dogs. Researchers found that genetics were slightly more predictive of dog ownership in adulthood than environment; genetic contribution to dog ownership amounted to about 51% in men and around 57% in women.
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