Are you curious why dogs are friendly? Scientists say it is in their DNA. Dogs are friendly in nature and that very nature is maybe the reason why they became a part of people’s lives. Dogs are a distant cousin of the wolves, their wild counterparts. The canis lupus familiaris descended from the wolves thousands of years ago.
Since then, dogs developed certain genetic changes that are the link between sociability of dog especially directed to humans. Dogs can somehow communicate and interact with humans better than any other animals. This ability is just what makes them more distinguishable than its wild cousins, the wolves.
In a study of a team of researchers published in the Science Advances journal, it identified changes from dog’s genetic makeup after sequencing an area of chromosome 6 in dogs’ DNA. Upon examination, researchers found multiple sections of the DNA that seems associated with the dog’s different social behavior than its wild cousins.
In multiple cases in the research, there are unique genetic insertions known as transposons present. Located on the Williams-Beuren syndrome critical region or WBSCR, these are strongly associated with dogs’ tendency to seek out physical contact, aid and information from humans.
In the case of humans, there is the deletion of the genes, the counterpart of the transposons, on the human genome that causes the Williams-Beuren syndrome. The WBSCR is a congenital disorder characterized by extreme sociability, for example is exceptional extroversion.
According to the study, there is a remarkable similarity between the WBSCR behavioral presentation and the social behaviors of domesticated canines. This only suggests that there are similarities with the genetic structure of dogs and individuals to the WBSCR. Furthermore, it attests that a dog being friendly is due to its DNA.
To promote these findings, researchers analyzed the behavioral and genetic data of both domesticated dogs and human-socialized wolves. The study was set to find out the animals’ social and problem-solving skills, which research found out that domesticated dogs really do display more human-directed behaviors.
The tests also found that domesticated dogs spend more time close to humans than the human-socialized wolves. In addition, there were only transposons present on WBSCR in domesticated wolves and not in the wolves.
The findings of the study bring light as to how wolves, over the course of history, were tamed and became the dogs that people known today. According to the researchers, the study enlightens the way that wolves left friendlier and more domesticated cousins. In a way, it opens the path towards domestication of dogs in the future.