Find out about behavioral research and participate
Is your dog shy, is it afraid of loud noises or is it perhaps hyperactive? Or is your dog calm and fearless, a perfect pooch?
By participating in our research your dog may help us discover things about behavioral disorders that can have a major impact on both dogs and humans. We are currently conducting several studies on genes that affect behavior. We need a great deal of research material and are always looking for dogs to take part in our research. You can participate by sending us a blood sample of your dog and filling out our questionnaires (see below). We need questionnaire answers of also dogs without behavioral problems. We encourage all those who have already sent us a blood sample to also participate in all our questionnaire studies. Further information on all the behavioral studies presented on these pages is provided by Katriina Tiira (katriina.tiira(at)helsinki.fi, 040-0014447) and Hannes Lohi (hannes.lohi(at)helsinki.fi).
Behavior and temperament are heritable
Behavior, like other traits, is affected by the environment, genes and the combination of both. The effect of genes on human behavior and personality is significant, 30-50 percent. In dogs this number is presumably about the same. Genetic research involving behavior and behavioral disorders in dogs is advancing rapidly. Recently a gene causing compulsive licking in Dobermans was found (read more). The first genes causing the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in dogs are another recent discovery (read more).
At the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Center we study the genetic background of a number of different behavior traits and disorders. Many behavioral disorders in dogs are very similar to those in humans, and thus our research can potentially also enhance our understanding of and improve the treatment of these disorders in humans. In fact, many of our studies are done in collaboration with psychiatrists, and the diagnostic methods used in our studies are often the same as in human medicine. The aim of our research is to identify new genes that affect behavior. These new discoveries may lead to the development of gene tests, which in turn can be used for the purposes of breeding.
Dogs from all breeds can participate in our studies, especially if the dog has one of the phenotypes (traits) we are investigating. For example, even though Bull Terriers and German Shepherds are needed for our tail chasing study, any dog that repeatedly chases its tail can provide us with new interesting information that can lead to the discovery of new genes. You can participate by answering our questionnaires (questionnaire forms from Katriina Tiira, katriina.tiira(at)helsinki.fi). Note that you can fill out all the questionnaires about the same dog!
Please, answer all the questions carefully. It is vitally important for our research that we receive as accurate descriptions of the dogs as possible. All information is kept confidential and will not be used outside the research group. The information of individual dogs will not be published. Dog owners also receive the results of possible genetic findings free of charge. We would like to thank you in advance for providing valuable support for our research!