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Blog: Karen B. London
Researching Social Cognition
Dogs finally get some respect
Science recently ran an article about the importance of dog research. It’s an understatement to say that times they are a-changing. The fact is that times have changed so much that it’s a whole new era. This journal is among the most prestigious of scientific publications, and to see a big article about the value of dogs as research subjects is mind-blowing to those of us whose discussions of dog...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
Government Funds PTSD Service Dog Study
Department of Defense begins research on the canine potential for helping veterans.
Back in July I wrote about the Puppies Behind Bars' Dog Tags program that provides service dogs to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now research is underway to demonstrate the impact of pairing up returning soldiers with trained canines. The U.S. Department of Defense is financing a $300,000, 12-month study that will look at the effects of service dogs on changes in PTSD...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
Three Genes Behind the Canine Coat
Scientists identify the genetic variants that influence dog hair.
From the Puli’s cords to the Poodle’s curls, the canine’s array of coats makes them one of the most diverse species in the world. Until now, little was known about the genetics behind their fur. Recently, a team of researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) studied 1,000 dogs representing 80 breeds and identified three genetic variants that account for all dog hair types...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
Boy or Girl?
Study finds that men and women differ on the perfect dog.
In the world of dog sports, I’ve often heard people say that men work better with female dogs and women work better with male dogs. That statement has yet to be proven, but a study by Monash University has begun to research how gender effects how we choose our furry friends.  According to their study of 877 Australian dog lovers, women prefer male dogs and vice versa. Researchers also found that...
Blog: Guest Posts
Origin of (Dog) Species
East Asia may not be where it all began.
Over the weekend, a science writer friend tipped me off to a paper to be published on Monday—“Complex population structure in African village dogs and its implications for inferring dog domestication history.” It was a gloriously sunny weekend, perfect for adventures with Lulu and Renzo, so I gave the paper a skim and managed to underappreciate the implications. As usual, I left it to The New...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
The Familiar Sounds of Barking
Study finds that we’re born with a natural ability to understand dogs.
An important part of being a dog lover is learning to understand canine body language. Personally, I attribute my knowledge to my pups, a perfect teaching team. But it turns out that we may be born understanding more than we think.  A new study published in the July issue of Developmental Psychology found that 6-month-old babies could match the sound of an aggressive bark with a picture of an...
Blog: Guest Posts
Mysteries of the Basset Hound Revealed
Scientists isolate the gene behind short legs.
A new study published in Science identifies the single evolutionary event that shortened the legs of Dachshunds, Basset Hounds and other stubby puppies. An extra copy of a gene (Fgf4 retrogene, to be exact), acquired by mutation at least 300 years ago, “causes the overproduction of a protein that disrupts growth during fetal development,” writes Sarah Arnquist, translating the study for a New...
Blog: Karen B. London
Dog Breath Is A Good Thing
Dogs use it to decide whether to search for food.
In a recent study in the journal Animal Behaviour, Heberlein and Turner found that dogs were more likely to search for food after observing another dog foraging if they smelled food on the other dog’s breath. After the first dog searched for food, the two dogs made snout-to-snout contact. If the first dog had successfully found food, then the second dog was more willing to seek food from the...
Blog: Guest Posts
Study Finds High Fluoride Levels in Dog Food
Linked to hormone disruption, thyroid problems and bone cancer in humans.
A new study by the Environmental Working Group in Washington D.C. found fluoride levels 2.5 times greater than permitted for human consumption in eight out of ten dog food brands tested by an independent lab. “While scientists have not determined how much fluoride is safe for dogs,” the EWC report states, “they have found that people who consume excessive fluoride often develop mottled teeth (...
Blog: Karen B. London
Saving Coyotes’ Lives
Scientist Marc Bekoff advises people to keep coyotes away from their homes.
When coyotes lose their fear of people, their lives are in danger. The more these wild animals come into contact with people, the more likely they are to be shot by authorities who face enormous pressure to prevent people and pets from being hurt by coyotes. With that in mind, behavioral ecologist Marc Bekoff, who has studied coyotes for decades, urges people to do what they can to keep coyotes...

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