An approach to canine behavioural genetics employing guide dogs for the blind

Y. Takeuchi, C. Hashizume, S. Arata, M. Inoue-Murayama, T. Maki, Benjamin Hart, Y. Mori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to attempt to find related variables of the canine genome with behavioural traits of dogs maintained and tested in a guide dog facility which provided a relatively uniform environment. The study involved 81 Labrador Retrievers that were being trained as guide dogs. Each dog was taken on walk-out sessions in which the trainer weekly recorded observations that were related to behavioural traits. The records were subjected to key-word analysis of 14 behaviour-related words. A factor analysis on the appearance rate of the 14 key words or phrases resulted in the extraction of six factors that accounted for 67.4% of the variance. Factor 1, referred to as aggressiveness, was significantly related to the success or failure of the dog in qualifying as a guide dog, and was also related to the variable of litter identification. Factor 2, referred to as distraction, was related to the variable of trainer. Factor 3, activity level, was related to the variable of sex, and was significantly related to the polymorphisms of c.471T>C in the solute carrier family 1 (neuronal/epithelial high affinity glutamate transporter) member 2 gene and c.216G>A in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene. The involvement of polymorphisms c.471T>C and c.216G>A in behavioural patterns related to activity level is similar to comparable genetic studies in other mammalian species. These results contribute to a greater understanding of the role of these genes in behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


  • Aggression
  • Behavioural traits
  • Canine temperament testing
  • Dogs
  • Genetic polymorphisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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