221 – Testing the Genetics and Biological Markers of Fear in Dogs

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Research to develop scientifically based information about fear in dogs

Candace Croney is one happy researcher. Her team has received a grant for a ground-breaking study on the genetics and biological markers of fear in dogs.

“This study is going to give us information nobody has,” Croney said.

The $2 million grant will continue Croney’s work with commercial kennels and is designed to investigate how to best identify dogs that can be successfully rehomed as adult dogs.

Part of the Canine Care Certified program is making sure the dogs are treated humanely after their breeding career is done, Croney noted. Her hope is that she will be able to look at which dogs are more or less likely to run into trouble when transitioning from kennel to home

Measurable results

But all of the research is giving Croney invaluable information about how to measure fearfulness in dogs. The research is looking at both phenotypical manifestations of fear (spinning, pacing, freezing) and actual biological markers such as cortisol levels, immune system function, and more.

Amongst the most fascinating part of the equation, is Croney’s examination of fearful dams and fearful puppies. She’s investigating both the genetic and environmental components of this equation. The results of the work have the potential to be useful to hobby breeders, shelters, and companion owners as well as commercial breeders.

“This research benefits all breeders because it’s basic information we don’t have,” Croney said. “Scott & Fuller did great work on this in the ‘60s, but we’ve done little to follow up on it.”

Croney’s research goal is to produce answers to the questions:

  • What tests give valid metrics of how fearful or comfortable dogs are around people, objects
  • What are biological markers that identify fear – cortisol levels, the immune function of the dog
  • Do stress-fearful moms have puppies that are different

Don’t miss Allison Foley’s advice on teaching tricks to focus your dog in the ring.


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  1. Royvia on 09/13/2019 at 6:17 AM

    Great post.

  2. Fredro on 09/23/2019 at 1:49 AM

    Nice post!

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