Dogs, color and personality
A dog's colour reflects a pooch's personality, scientists say, at least in one breed, the English cocker spaniel.
The latest study, recently published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, shows that golden/red English cocker spaniels exhibit the most dominant and aggressive behaviour.
Black dogs in this breed are the second most aggressive, while particolour (white with patches of colour) are more mild-mannered.
Earlier research suggests that hair colour is also linked to behaviour in labrador retrievers.
For this breed, the most aggressive are the yellow ones, the next most aggressive are the black dogs and the least aggressive are the chocolate coloured ones.
The behaviour-hair colour connection is likely due to related genetic coding that takes place during the pup's earliest life stages, according to lead author Dr Joaquín Pérez-Guisado.
"Maybe the link [to coat colour] is due to the fact that the ectoderm [one of the three primary germ cell layers] is where the skin and central nervous system originate in the embryo," he says.
Pérez-Guisado, a Spanish researcher in the Department of Medicine and Animal Surgery at the University of Cordoba, and his colleagues measured levels of dominance and aggression in 51 seven-week-old English cocker spaniel puppies that were either full siblings or half siblings.
The tests looked at how quickly a person could capture a puppy's attention, how well puppies followed the individual, how the dogs behaved while restrained, how they exerted their social dominance and what they did when they were lifted off the floor.
In many cases, the golden-coloured dogs resisted human contact and even tried to bite the tester, while the particolour pups often wagged their tails and seemed to enjoy the attention.
Hair type also seems to affect temperament:
Pérez-Guisado and his colleagues next plan to study the English springer spaniel and English cocker spaniel genomes to pinpoint common genes associated with so-called dog rage and colouration.
Earlier research has also found that hair type may indicate a dog's temperament.
In a study, wiry-haired mini dachshunds were often more feisty than their mellower, long-haired cousins.
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