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Behav Processes. 2009 Jul;81(3):409-15. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.03.011.

Breed differences in dogs sensitivity to human points: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


The last decade has seen a substantial increase in research on the behavioral and cognitive abilities of pet dogs, Canis familiaris. The most commonly used experimental paradigm is the object-choice task in which a dog is given a choice of two containers and guided to the reinforced object by human pointing gestures. We review here studies of this type and attempt a meta-analysis of the available data. In the meta-analysis breeds of dogs were grouped into the eight categories of the American Kennel Club, and into four clusters identified by Parker and Ostrander [Parker, H.G., Ostrander, E.A., 2005. Canine genomics and genetics: running with the pack. PLoS Genet. 1, 507-513] on the basis of a genetic analysis. No differences in performance between breeds categorized in either fashion were identified. Rather, all dog breeds appear to be similarly and highly successful in following human points to locate desired food. We suggest this result could be due to the paucity of data available in published studies, and the restricted range of breeds tested.

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