Link to bioRxiv paper:
Authors: Zapata, I., Lilly, M. L., Herron, M. E., Alvarez, C. E.
Very little is known about the etiology of personality and psychiatric disorders. Because the core neurobiology of many such traits is evolutionarily conserved, dogs present a powerful model. We previously reported genome scans of breed averages of ten traits related to fear, anxiety, aggression and social behavior in multiple cohorts of pedigree dogs. As a second phase of that discovery, here we tested the ability of markers at 13 of those loci to predict canine behavior in a community sample of 397 pedigree and mixed-breed dogs with individual-level genotype and phenotype data. We found support for all markers and loci. By including 122 dogs with veterinary behavioral diagnoses in our cohort, we were able to identify eight loci associated with those diagnoses. Logistic regression models showed subsets of those loci could predict behavioral diagnoses. We corroborated our previous findings that small body size is associated with many problem behaviors and large body size is associated with increased trainability. Children in the home were associated with anxiety traits; illness and other animals in the home with coprophagia; working-dog status with increased energy and separation-related problems; and competitive dogs with increased aggression directed at familiar dogs, but reduced fear directed at humans and unfamiliar dogs. Compared to other dogs, Pit Bull-type dogs were not defined by a set of our markers and were not more aggressive; but they were strongly associated with pulling on the leash. Using severity-threshold models, Pit Bull-type dogs showed reduced risk of owner-directed aggression (75th quantile) and increased risk of dog-directed fear (95th quantile). Our findings have broad utility, including for clinical and breeding purposes, but we caution that thorough understanding is necessary for their interpretation and use.
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