In the long history of companionship between humans and dogs, stretching back some 40,000 years, dogs have faithfully been by our side. This loyalty and deep connection has earned them the title of “man’s best friend.”
However, recent research suggests that not all breeds share an equal fondness for human company. A team of scientists at the University of Helsinki has found that human sociability levels vary considerably among different dog breeds.
Led by Dr. Milla Salonen, the researchers set out to analyze canine personalities, aiming to uncover the variation across breeds.
“The breed of the dog is the most important determinant underlying personality differences,” said Dr. Salonen. “All dogs are individuals, and all breeds have different traits, but the breeds differ in what kind of personality most dogs within each breed have.”
This extensive study revealed that bull type terriers, teacup dogs, and golden retrievers topped the list of breeds with the highest levels of human sociability, officially affirming their status as “man’s best friends.” Conversely, livestock guardian dogs, Asian primitive breeds, and primitive sighthounds appeared less inclined to enjoy human company.
For the investigation, the team amassed an expansive behavioral survey dataset containing information on 11,000 dogs, representing 300 distinct breeds. The dogs were then sorted into 52 groups.
After careful examination, the data demonstrated a strong correlation between breed and seven personality traits: insecurity, training focus, aggressiveness/dominance, energy, dog sociability, human sociability, and perseverance.
In terms of human sociability, bull terriers took the lead, with teacup dogs, Golden Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, and Dachshunds following closely behind. On the flip side, livestock guardian dogs, Asian primitive breeds, primitive sighthounds, and Northern hunting spitzes ranked at the bottom of the sociability scale.
This research also explored several factors other than breed that may influence a dog’s sociability with humans. The results showed that female dogs generally exhibited higher sociability scores than their male counterparts, and that sociability appeared to decline as dogs aged.
Considering these insights, the researchers recommend that new pet owners should make efforts to expose their puppies to various social environments involving humans from an early age.
“Our findings indicate that new owners should familiarize their puppies as much as possible with unfamiliar people, places, and animals,” said Dr. Salonen. “Of course, socialization must always be done on the puppy’s terms, which means that the puppy must not be forced into frightening situations.”
This groundbreaking study improves our understanding of the diverse personalities of our beloved canine companions. While the breed does play a significant role in defining a dog’s personality, pet owners are responsible for creating environments that foster their natural sociability toward people.
Choosing the right dog is a major decision that can bring immense joy and companionship, but also a significant responsibility. Here’s how you can make a thoughtful choice:
Consider your daily routine and living environment. Active breeds like Retrievers or Border Collies may require more exercise and stimulation than, for instance, Bichon Frises or Shih Tzus. Similarly, larger breeds may need more space than smaller ones.
Different dog breeds have different traits and temperaments. Research various breeds, their energy levels, health concerns, lifespan, and their compatibility with your lifestyle. Keep in mind that certain breeds may be more sociable with humans, as indicated by recent research led by Dr. Milla Salonen from the University of Helsinki.
Many dogs of all breeds and ages are waiting for homes in shelters. Adopting can save a life and give a dog a second chance. Remember, puppies may require more training and patience than an older dog.
Different breeds have different life expectancies and potential health issues. Large dogs generally have shorter lifespans than smaller dogs. Be prepared to take on the financial responsibility for any health issues that may arise.
Dogs vary in trainability and behavior based on their breed and individual personality. Consider if you prefer a dog that is easy to train or one that is more independent. You should also think about their compatibility with other pets or children.
Dogs require time, effort, and emotional investment. They need training, socialization, care, and above all, love. Make sure you are ready for this commitment.
Before making a decision, consider talking to veterinarians, dog trainers, or breed-specific rescue groups. They can provide invaluable insight into what owning a particular breed is like.
Choosing the right dog is not just about finding a pet; it’s about inviting a new family member into your home.