New Infographic Reveals Dog Behavior Can’t Be Predicted Based on Breed or Looks

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A new infographic from Animal Farm Foundation reveals dog behavior cannot be accurately predicted based on their physical appearance, breed, or DNA results alone. Research in canine genetics and behavior confirms that all dogs are individuals and their behavior is a result of many factors, both internal and external.

All Dogs Are Individuals [INFOGRAPHIC]

What kind of dog is that? It’s one of the most commonly asked questions about any dog. But the answer raises further questions:

  •     What do people think they know about a dog based on their breed or breed mix?
  •     How good are people at guessing the breed when they don’t know a dog’s background?
  •     And what can people predict about dog behavior based on breed or physical appearance alone?

With that in mind, Animal Farm Foundation is sharing a new infographic on the subject of canine genetics and behavior citing research from Dr. Victoria Voith, Dr. Kristopher Irizarry, and expert dog trainer Janis Bradley, among other sources. What they found is simple: All Dogs Are Individuals.

View the full infographic and receive the embed code here.

Despite how a dog may look on the outside or what their breed or breed mix may be, research reveals that dogs are complex animals influenced by many factors. Looks alone do not dictate behavior.

For example, despite looking alike on the outside, even pure bred dogs from the same litter do not share identical DNA. Even in the case of cloned pets – animals that are genetically identical – their personalities and behavior still vary. That’s because the behavior of all dogs (pure and mixed breed) is influenced by many external factors such as training, environment, management, and socialization, in addition to their genetics and breeding. There is no guarantee that a dog will act in a specific way simply based on how it looks or because of its breed.

Think of it like this: do human siblings have the exact same personalities? Even though they come from the same family, siblings still have different DNA and varying experiences which contribute to their individual health and personalities. Even identical twins - similar to cloned animals since they have identical DNA – will have personality differences due to outside influences and experiences. We’re all individuals.

It’s the same with dogs. From their unique DNA to varying outside influences, all dogs are individuals. Their future behavior cannot be predicted based solely on looks or breed.

Recognizing and understanding dogs as individuals is important for the well-being and safety of families and communities. It means that every dog must be judged and evaluated for their actual behavior, rather than on assumptions, generalizations, and stereotypes based on breed or looks.

This “individual first” approach leads to many positive things for dogs and people:

  •     better matches between dogs and families
  •     safer communities where laws hold all dog owners equally responsible for their actions
  •     more effective use of animal control resources and time
  •     more lives saved at shelters
  •     an end to discriminatory policies and laws, such as Breed Specific Legislation

The infographic, called All Dogs Are Individuals by Animal Farm Foundation, shares the science and research behind this perspective-shifting idea. If you’d like to access more research about dogs, please visit the AFF website or the National Canine Research Council.


About Animal Farm Foundation:
Animal Farm Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, has been rescuing and re-homing animals, as well as making grants to other humane organizations, since the mid-1980's.

We currently dedicate our resources to securing equal treatment and opportunity for "pit bull" dogs. Whether the dog is called a "pit bull" because of a documented pedigree, or merely on the basis of physical appearance, recognizing that these dogs are individuals for whom we are responsible is an integral step toward a compassionate future for all dogs and people.

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Stacey Coleman
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