Science Library

a large collection of research studies, literature reviews, and policy papers.​

The National Canine Research Council's staff and advisors thoroughly analyze the most recent research in the field of canine behavioral science. They then produce concise summaries and analyses, catering to a wide audience, including academics and everyday dog owners.

Popular Research

Ancestry-inclusive dog genomics challenges popular breed stereotypes

The research challenges assumptions about dog behavior and genetics. Breed has minimal impact on behavior. This study uses a large sample of 18,385 dogs, including mixed breeds. The findings indicate low correlation between breed and behavior traits, except for biddability. Appearance is more predictive of breed than behavior, especially in purebreds. Mixed breed identification is unreliable based on looks. The research confirms that mutts are usually mixtures of many breeds, with the American Pit Bull Terrier being common found. This extensive study provides crucial insights into canine behavior and genetics, reshaping our understanding.

What is the evidence for reliability and validity of behavior evaluations for shelter dogs?

The 2019 paper by Patronek, Bradley, and Arps responds to concerns about validity and reliability of canine behavior evaluations in shelters. The study reviews existing evaluations’ validity and summarizes published literature, revealing shortcomings in reliability, construct validity, and predictive ability. The authors emphasize the need for a process of repeated studies for establishing overall validity in shelter canine behavior evaluations.

No better than flipping a coin: Reconsidering canine behavior evaluations in animal shelters

In their study, Patronek and Bradley explain why behavior evaluations are unreliable using hypothetical statistics. They define attributes like sensitivity and specificity and highlight the poor predictive value of such tests in shelters, even with optimistic assumptions. The study demonstrates the inefficacy of evaluations and suggests focusing on behavior history, verified incidents, and positive interactions instead.

Saving Normal: A New Look At Behavioral Incompatibilities And Dog Relinquishment To Shelters​

This paper critiques the foundation premise of behavior evaluations in shelters, aiming to identify behaviors linked to relinquishment. It follows previous works by the authors that assessed validity and reliability of such evaluations. The study examines the evidence for behavioral incompatibilities as relinquishment risk factors, highlighting issues with studies’ methodology and categorization of reasons. It concludes that many dogs with behaviors considered problematic by owners are still loved and cherished, challenging the necessity of behavior evaluations in shelters.

Policy Paper

Dog Bites: Problems & Solutions 2nd Edition

A comprehensive discussion of dog bites and society, Dog Bites: Problems & Solutions (2014) is an Animals & Society Institute Policy Paper written by Janis Bradley.

The Relevance of Breed in Selecting a Companion Dog

Does breed matter in choosing a pet? The scientific literature shows that breed isn’t a reliable predictor of a dog’s personality traits. Most U.S. dogs are mixed breeds, and even purebred dogs’ behavior isn’t well-predicted by breed. Instead, focus on individual dog behavior and discard breed-based decisions. Public policies should prioritize the dog’s and owners behavior.

Literature Reviews

Breeds & Stereotypes

Research on breed and behavior lacks consistency. Stereotypes affect perceptions of breed behavior. Breed labels must be based on accurate definitions, such as pedigree or DNA. Genetic factors might not solely cause behavioral differences. Breeds are often inaccurately identified by appearance. Behavior research varies widely, but categorization methods differ. Studies on breed-related traits need careful interpretation. Limited validity testing on behavior measurement methods. Public misconceptions persist about breed behavior. Focus on individual behavior, not breed stereotypes, for dog policy.

Visual Identification of Dogs

People often think they can identify a dog’s breed by appearance, but this is usually inaccurate when DNA analysis shows mixed heritage. Studies reveal visual breed identification errors by dog behavior experts and animal sheltering professionals. Breed misidentification has implications for research on behavior and dog bites. Such misinformation influences public opinion and policies. Accurate data sources are needed for canine behavioral studies.

Behavior Evaluation

This review focuses on behavior evaluations to predict shelter dogs’ behavior in adoptive homes. Evaluations vary in purpose, testing dogs for demographics and breeding. Some instruments serve dual roles. These tests aren’t predictions but measure behavior objectively. Validation attempts compared evaluations with owner surveys.