Dog Person? It May Be in Your Genes

By | May 21, 2019

If you like dogs, it may be in your genes.

Swedish researchers used a database of 35,035 identical and fraternal twins born between 1926 and 1996. They gathered information on their dog ownership from government and kennel club registries.

Identical twins, who share 100 percent of their genes, are genetically more like each other than fraternal twins, who share only 50 percent. Twins share the same environment, so if a trait is genetic, identical twins will look more like each other in that trait than fraternal twins do.

The study, in Scientific Reports, found that if one identical female twin owned a dog, there was a 40 percent likelihood that her twin would, too, compared with a 25 percent likelihood with fraternal females. When an identical male twin owned a dog, there was a 29 percent likelihood that his twin did, compared with only an 18 percent likelihood for fraternal males.

Dog ownership, in other words, has a large genetic component. The scientists calculate that genetics is responsible for 57 percent of dog ownership in women and 51 percent in men.

“Some people are dog people, some are not,” said the lead author, Tove Fall, a professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University. “And our findings suggest that inherited factors may explain the difference.”