Happy Chinese New Year! 2018 is the Year of the Dog, so we’ve put together a list of our favourite canine-related research papers from recent years. Nature Research invites readers to learn about the effects of domestication in canines, similarities in the genome of ancient and modern dogs, through to how human cardiovascular systems have benefited from their companionship.
Scientific Reports – The effects of domestication and ontogeny on cognition in dogs and wolves
A study published in Scientific Reports based on where dogs and wolves searched for food after receiving hints, finds our domesticated companions cannot make the connection between cause and effect, but wolves can. The results from this study involving 12 captive wolves, 14 dogs and 12 pet dogs suggest that domestication may have reduced the independent problem-solving abilities of dogs in specific situations.
Scientific Reports – Birth of clones of the world’s first cloned dog
In 2005, researchers reported the first dog to be cloned – an Afghan hound named ‘Snuppy’. Since then, hundreds of other dogs have been cloned, offering an opportunity to learn more about the potential benefits and possible drawbacks of cloning animals. A paper published in Scientific Reports describes the creation and clinical follow-up of 4 clones using adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells from Snuppy as donor cells.
Nature Communications – Ancient European dog genomes reveal continuity since the Early Neolithic
The genome of ancient European dogs is similar to that of modern dogs, reports a paper published in Nature Communications. The study also suggests Europe was the centre of modern dog evolution, harbouring the oldest uncontested Palaeolithic remains.
Scientific Reports – Dog ownership correlates with lower rates of mortality and cardiovascular disease
Dog ownership appears to be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single-person households and lower mortality in the general population, reports a paper published in Scientific Reports.
Nature Reviews Genetics – Demographic history, selection and functional diversity of the canine genome
Despite being a single species, dogs represent nearly 400 breeds with substantial genetic, morphological and behavioural diversity. Published in Nature Reviews Genetics, this Review discuss how genomics studies of dogs have enhanced our understanding of dog and human population history, the desired and unintended consequences of trait-based selective breeding, and potentially human-applicable insights into cancer, ageing, behaviour and neurological diseases.
Scientific Reports – Human attention affects facial expressions in domestic dogs
An initial study published in Scientific Reports suggests dogs produce facial expressions communicatively and increase their frequency based on the attention they receive from another individual. The authors argue that their data points to a more flexible system combining both emotional and cognitive processes in dogs.
Scientific Reports – Functional MRI in Awake Dogs Predicts Suitability for Assistance Work
Brain scans of canine candidates to assist people with disabilities may help predict which dogs will fail a service training program, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. Data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of 43 dogs provided a modest, but significant, improvement in the ability to identify poor candidates. Despite calm exteriors, some of the dogs showed higher activity in the amygdala – an area of the brain associated with excitability and anxiety. These dogs were more likely to fail the training programme.
If you want to keep up-to-date with research about dogs, why not try Recommended? It’s a free, personalised service that suggests relevant papers to you, based on what you’ve previously read, from all publishers.