Genetic factors contribute to how likely you are to own a dog, a new study has revealed.

Evidence points to dogs being domesticated as early as 15,000 years ago. However, there is not much understanding to how this happened and if genetic factors had any influence. There is also debate if genetic influences could contribute to why people who have dog in their childhood are much more likely to own a dog when they are an adult, or if this is solely down to experience.

Scientists investigated if dog ownership was hereditary by studying large sets of identical twins and non-identical twins. As identical twins share their entire genomes whilst non-identical twins do not, comparing sets of non-identical and identical twins can adjust for factors including the same upbringing and similar experiences. This allows the comparison of investigating only how genetic factors influence the likelihood of dog ownership.

The scientists found that the correlation rates of dog ownership were much higher in identical twins than non-identical twins, indicating that there is a genetic basis for choosing to own a dog. Genetic factors were estimated to be 57% of the contributing factors towards owning a dog in females, but only 51% in males.

The scientists conclude that genetic variation in humans may have contributed to the domestication of dogs. The research could also provide a foundation to investigate the health benefits of owning a dog.

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