DNA differences affect beagles’ tendency to seek human help
Dogs may look to humans for help in solving impossible tasks thanks to some genes previously linked to social disorders in people.
Beagles with particular variants in a gene associated with autism were more likely to sidle up to and make physical contact with a human stranger, researchers report September 29 in Scientific Reports.
That gene, SEZ6L, is one of five genes in a particular stretch of beagle DNA associated with sociability in the dogs, animal behaviorist Per Jensen and colleagues at Linköping University in Sweden say. Versions of four of those five genes have been linked to human social disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and aggression.
“What we figure has been going on here is that there are genetic variants that tend to make dogs more sociable and these variants have been selected during domestication,” Jensen says.