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News & Views January 2020 Issue

Being a Dog Person is in Your Genes, Literally

You may think you chose to have a dog in your life. But your decision to have a dog may have been genetically predetermined.

Swedish researchers made the finding when they looked at dog ownership among more than 35,000 sets of twins. Identical twins were much more likely to each have a dog or not have one than fraternal (non-identical) twins.

Next up: figuring out which genes are responsible for dog affinity. Researchers will also work to understand the evolutionary forces that may have made some of us want to have a dog in our lives and others, not. Could the health benefits of dog ownership (less stress, lower blood pressure) be greater for some people than others? Might there be an empathy component? Further study could tell.

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