August 13, 2017
Ever wonder why dogs are so darn friendly? Modern science may have answered the question.
Researchers at Oregon State University conducted a series of experiments with 18 dogs and 10 captive wolves, in which the animals had to solve a puzzle when they were alone, with someone they knew, or with a stranger. The wolves consistently outperformed the dogs and remained more focused on their task, whereas the dogs became distracted by people.
Researchers at Princeton then pinpointed differences in two genes in the two sets of animals; these same genes have been linked to Williams-Beuren syndrome in humans, which causes overly friendly behavior. Williams-Beuren delays cognitive development in humans, but works for the dogs because they have learned to get what they need from people. Says one researcher, “The very things that make life challenging for a human may make dogs successful.”
And now you know the rest of the story.