Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breeding is changing dog brains, scientists find

Date:
August 2, 2010
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
For the first time, scientists have shown that selective breeding of domestic dogs is not only dramatically changing the way the animals look but is also driving major changes in the canine brain. The brains of many short-snouted dog breeds have rotated forward as much as 15 degrees, while the brain region controlling smell has fundamentally relocated.

Selective breeding of domestic dogs appears to be driving major changes in the canine brain, researchers have found.
Credit: iStockphoto/Stacy Able

For the first time, scientists have shown that selective breeding of domestic dogs is not only dramatically changing the way animals look but is also driving major changes in the canine brain.

The brains of many short-snouted dog breeds have rotated forward as much as 15 degrees, while the brain region controlling smell has fundamentally relocated, researchers from the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney have found.

The large variations in dog skull size and shape follow more than 12,000 years of breeding for functional and aesthetic traits.

The discovery of such dramatic reorganisation of the canine brain raises important questions about impacts on dog behavior.

The research is published this month in the Public Library of Sciences journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers from UNSW's Brain and Ageing Research Program and Sydney University's Faculty of Veterinary Science used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at brains across a range of breeds.

"We found strong and independent correlations between the size and shape of a dog's skull, and brain rotation and the positioning of the olfactory lobe," said study co-author, Dr Michael Valenzuela, from UNSW's School of Psychiatry

"As a dog's head or skull shape becomes flatter -- more pug-like -- the brain rotates forward and the smell centre of the brain drifts further down to the lowest position in the skull," Dr Valenzuela said.

No other animal has enjoyed the level of human affection and companionship like the dog, nor undergone such a systemic and deliberate intervention in its biology through breeding, the authors note. The diversity suggests a unique level of plasticity in the canine genome.

"Canines seem to be incredibly responsive to human intervention through breeding. It's amazing that a dog's brain can accommodate such large differences in skull shape through these kinds of changes -- it's something that hasn't been documented in other species," Dr Valenzuela said.

Health impacts from breed specific disorders -- such as pug encephalitis and hip problems in German shepherds -- are well documented; however, until now little had been known about the effects of human intervention on dogs' brains.

Co-author Associate Professor Paul McGreevy from the University of Sydney noted: "We think of dogs living in a world of smell -- but this finding strongly suggests that one dog's world of smell may be very different from another's."

"The next obvious step is to try to find out if these changes in brain organisation are also linked to systematic differences in dogs' brain function," Dr Valenzuela said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Taryn Roberts, Paul McGreevy, Michael Valenzuela. Human Induced Rotation and Reorganization of the Brain of Domestic Dogs. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (7): e11946 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011946

Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Breeding is changing dog brains, scientists find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802091205.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2010, August 2). Breeding is changing dog brains, scientists find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802091205.htm
University of New South Wales. "Breeding is changing dog brains, scientists find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802091205.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins