Genetics explains why the dog became man’s best friend

Two mutations in a gene involved in stress hormone production may have played a role in the domestication of dogs, allowing them to develop social cognitive skills to interact and communicate with humans.

According to a study published in the scientific journal Scientific Reportsled by Azabu University in Japan, suggests that mutations in the melancorin 2 receptor gene may have provided for the domestication of these animals. It is also mentioned that it could occur by promoting lower levels of stress around humans.

It is worth mentioning that dogs have implicated changes in different genes, generally in the control of hormones that influence social behavior; however, it had not been precisely determined what genetic changes might have taken place.

Likewise, the team led by the scientist Miho Nagasawa investigated the social cognitive interactions of 624 dogs through two specific tasks.

In the first, the dogs had to decide which cup had food hidden under it, based on signals such as pointing, looking and tapping, made by members of the research group, which approved the animal’s understanding, gestures and communication. human.

Then, he had to try to open a container in order to access the food and the researchers measured how often and how long the dogs spent looking at the researchersdemonstrating social attachment to humans.

In the study, the dogs were separated into two groups, based on their breed. The first group was made up of races considered genetically closer to the wolf called Ancient and the General group, which included the other races further from the wolf.

Those in the Ancient group looked at humans less often during the problem-solving task, meaning they were less attached, while there were no significant race-related differences in the former task.

Also, the authors attempted to look for differences in genes associated with human-related cognitive abilities between the Ancient and General groups.

Similarly, among the genes studied were the oxytocin (OT), the oxytocin receptor (OTR) or the melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R).

Dog – Photo: Getty Images

Also, two changes in the MC2R gene were linked to both the correct interpretation of gestures in the first task, such as looking more at people in the problem-solving task.

Benefits of having a dog as a pet

  • Studies have shown that dog owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol than people who do not live with a dog.
  • Dog owners have a stronger immune systemthis helps you stay well and spend less time coping with illnesses.
  • People recover faster from their ailments and even show a higher survival rate after a heart attack if they have a dog.
  • Children who have a dog miss less school due to illness.
  • Children with chronic illnesses often cope better with treatment if they have a dog.
  • Dogs provide a sense of emotional well-being through the unconditional love they give; therefore, they are a great company for people who live alone.
  • Owning a dog can help people recover from personal trauma, such as the loss of a loved one.
  • When taking the dog for a walk it is common to meet other dog owners, you can make friends along with your dog.
  • Walks offer a valuable opportunity to get away from it all and spend time with the dog.