These findings are the result of new scientific study, which involved over 85,000 participants.

By Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee
May 20, 2019
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woman and dog
Credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty

Dog-lovers may tell you the love for their pups runs deep in their veins-and according to a new study published in Scientific Reports, they could be right. The study, which was led by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden, involved 50,507 pairs of twins born between 1926 and 1996 from the Swedish Twin Registry, the largest of its kind in the world. Researchers also analyzed data on dog ownership available from 2001 and 2016 from national dog registers.

Their findings? Participants' genetic makeup played a sizable role in whether the person would one day own a dog. Focusing on the concept of heritability, or how much a single trait is tied to one's genetics, researchers found that the study's female participants had an estimated 57 percent heritability and males has an estimated 51 percent.

When determining the effects of genetics versus environmental factors, studying twins is particularly effective as identical twins share complete sets of genes while fraternal twins share only half of their genetic variations, on average. And while previous studies have shown that people who have dogs during childhood are more likely to be dog-owners as adults, this study further indicated that this could actually be because of shared genetics between a parent and a child.

"These kind of twin studies cannot tell us exactly which genes are involved, but at least demonstrate for the first time that genetics and environment play about equal roles in determining dog ownership," Patrik Magnusson, senior author of the study, Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet and Head of the Swedish Twin Registry tells Science Daily. "The next obvious step is to try to identify which genetic variants affect this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors."

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