Impulsivity in working and show lines of dog breeds

A new paper has been published in Scientific Reports:

Differences in Trait Impulsivity Indicate Diversification of Dog Breeds into Working and Show Lines

Fernanda Ruiz Fadel, Patricia Driscoll, Malgorzata Pilot, Hannah Wright, Helen Zulch & Daniel Mills

Impulsiveness describes the inability to inhibit behaviour in the presence of salient cues. Trait-level impulsivity exists on a continuum and individual differences can be adaptive in different contexts. While breed related differences in behavioural tendency in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) are well established, the phenomenon within lines of a breed which have been selected more recently is not well studied, although it may challenge the popular notion of breed-typical behaviour. We describe differences in impulsivity between and within two dog breeds with working and show lines selected for different levels of impulsivity: Border Collies (herding work) and Labrador Retrievers (gun work). Recent show line selection might have lessened differences in impulsivity between breeds. We tested this hypothesis on a dataset of 1161 individuals assessed using a validated psychometric tool (Dog Impulsivity Assessment Scale – DIAS). Collies were more impulsive on average, consistent with the original purpose of breed selection. Regarding line, working Collies differed from working Labradors, but show lines from the two breeds were not significantly different. Altered or relaxed artificial selection for behavioural traits when appearance rather than behaviour become the primary focus for breeders may reduce average differences in impulsivity between breeds in show lines.

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