The Lowdown on Dogs’ Breeds and Brains

If you’ve been around dogs for any amount of time, you know that their personalities differ greatly. Some pups are calm, cool and collected while others have more energy than a toddler. Your dog may be easy to train or temperamental and feisty. Some dogs are bred for their certain skill set, such as hunting dogs. Others are bred so that they have a hypoallergenic coat.

During all of this breeding, a new study is showing that different breeds not only have great variance in their body types, but also in the way their brains are shaped.

According to National Geographic, MRI scans on 33 different dog breeds revealed connections between breed and brain structure. While some of the results were more obvious — such as some dogs with rounder heads having rounder brains — other results were more surprising.

For example, the brain scans showed indications toward “different behavioral specialization(s) such as sight hunting, scent hunting, guarding, and companionship.” According to the study, there are six main brain networks that were identified through the MRI scans and each of these networks determine a dog’s behavior.

According to a Science News article on the same study, “Researchers identified groups of brain areas, such as smell and taste regions, that showed the most variability between breeds. Those groups are involved in specialized behaviors that often serve humans, such as hunting by smell, guarding and providing companionship to people, earlier studies have suggested.”

But what does all of this scientific information really mean for the average dog owner?

Researching dog breeds is important when considering what type of pup you’d like to add to your family. Increased scientific research like this study supplies more knowledge on different breeds’ tendencies, behaviors and skills.

No, this doesn’t mean you need to get an MRI of your dog to really understand its personality. But, it’s always important to consider what traits are important for you and your family in a pet. Whether you want an active dog, a hunting dog, a chill lap dog or a playful running buddy, make sure to go off of more than just looks when picking your pup.

Dog breeds have strong identifying characteristics, and it’s usually safe to assume that most dogs will fall in those parameters. You’re not going to get a poodle who can be a good hunting dog just like you likely won’t find a labrador who doesn’t need a generous dose of active time each day.

What breed and brain fits your family and lifestyle? Do your research and you’ll have a happy pup.