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CopyrightCopyright © Kathleen Crisley, Canine Catering Ltd and DoggyMom.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Some attributed content, excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathleen Crisley, DoggyMom.com with specific direction to the original content.
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I adore my Daisy and I’m very aware that she’s getting older. For example, I notice that she doesn’t hear as well as she used to and she sleeps very deeply as a result.
I love watching her sleep and couldn’t resist taking this short video of her snoring. Enjoy!
Researchers have debated human right brain/left brain theory for years. New research has looked into whether lateralisation of brain function affects dogs.
The study involved 19 dogs and trainers. The study subjects went through a series of tests, firstly paw preference tests whilst offering food followed by agility tests, using A-frames, jumps and weave poles. Throughout the tests, the dogs received trainer stimuli from both the right and left sides.
Trainers also completed questionnaires giving more information about the dog’s temperament. Results showed a correlation between paw preference and agility. Dogs with stronger paw preferences seemed more predisposed to training, less distracted and had greater agility.
When trainers presented on the left, dogs were more agitated, emotional, and performances deteriorated. A dog’s left visual field stimulates the right brain hemisphere.
Overall the results revealed that behavioural lateralisation correlates with
performance of agility-trained dogs. These results support previous evidence that lateralisation in dogs can directly affect visually guided motor
The results have practical implications for personnel involved in
the selection of dogs trained specifically for agility competitions and for the
development of new training techniques.
You can read the full article on this research here.
Read my previous blogs about paw preference in dogs:
In a new study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, author Dong-Dong Wu, et. al., explored the genetic basis of high-altitude adaptation of Tibetan Mastiffs, which were originally domesticated from the Chinese native dogs of the plains.
The authors examined genome-wide mutations (called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs) of 32 Tibetan Mastiffs, and compared them to 20 Chinese native dogs and 14 grey wolves. Overall, they identified more than 120,000 SNPs, and in their analysis, narrowed these down to 16 genes that have undergone positive selection in mastiffs, with 12 of these relevant to high altitude adaption.
These candidate genes have been shown to be involved in energy production critical to high-altitude survival under low oxygen conditions.
For future studies, the authors will explore whole genome sequences from individual Tibetan Mastiffs to gain better insights into high-altitude adaptations and canine evolution.
Source: EurekAlert! media statement
I’ve always felt that many people don’t give our dogs the credit they deserve; they are not ‘dumb animals.’ This book outlines research into dog cognition and what it means for your relationship with your dog.
Hare, who is the founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, started his research at the young age of 7 with his dog Oreo. He used a basic cognitive test involving two cups and a treat to test whether Oreo would respond to hand signals. Later in life, as part of his research, he travels to places like the Congo to work with bonobos, Australia to observe dingoes on Fraser Island, and New Guinea to test a group of New Guinea Singing Dogs.
Here are a few of my favourite excerpts from this book:
- People who own pets tend to be more extroverted, less lonely, and have higher self-esteem than people who do not own pets.
- Breed-specific laws based on appearance as opposed to bad behavior are doomed to fail in protecting the public because it is difficult to judge a dog by her cover.
- In return for a lifetime of loyalty, they (dogs) depend on us for food, the warmth of a loving family, and a good home. It is up to us to uphold our end of the bargain.
This book is thoroughly referenced with 67 pages of end notes, something I believe is as an indicator of quality.
Enjoy this book, from its first page to last. I found the book’s dedication particularly poignant…
For all dogs
What do the Gordon Setter and Old English Sheepdog have in common?
Both breeds suffer from a type of hereditary ataxia where neurons in the cerebellum that control movement begin to die, causing a gradual loss of coordination. In humans, ataxia is also the 3rd most common neurodegenerative movement disorder (after Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases).
Researchers at the National Institute on Aging and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard looked at 630 Old English sheepdogs and mapped ataxia genetically in the families of affected animals. Eventually they mapped the disease to a gene, RAB 24, located on chromosome 4. A mutation in RAB 24 was closely associated with development of the disease, and on screening of affected dogs of other breeds, the identical mutation was found in Gordon setters, providing additional evidence that this mutation is important.
“Rab 24 is a protein that is believed to be important to the process of autophagy – which is how cells cleanse themselves of waste,” says North Carolina State neurologist Natasha Olby who collaborated on the research.
“We know that autophagy and neurodegeneration are connected, so pinpointing this protein is important to our understanding of the disease process.”
“We have not yet proven that this mutation causes neurodegeneration; it could simply be a very good marker for the disease,” Olby says. “Our next step will be to determine exactly how the mutation affects the protein Rab 24 and its function and to determine whether this results in neuron death. This gene will also be investigated in humans with hereditary ataxia.”
The findings appear in the journal PLOS Genetics. The research was funded by the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation with additional support from the Old English Sheepdog Club of America.