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Phenotyping of aggressive behavior in Golden Retrievers
A very interesting study comes from the Netherlands: Owners of 228 Golden Retrievers with known aggression problems completed a questionnaire to phenotype them as a basis for further studies of genetic factors. The results are very interesting!

Reliable and valid phenotyping is crucial for our study of genetic factors underlying aggression in Golden Retriever dogs.

A mail questionnaire based on the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (CBARQ; Hsu and Serpell, 2003, JAVMA 223(9):1293-1300) was used to assess behavioral phenotypes. Owners of 228 Golden Retrievers completed the questionnaire.

These dogs had been referred to our clinic for aggression problems several years earlier or they were related to aggressive dogs.

In this paper, three sets of results are presented, which indicate that behavior scores from the CBARQ can be applied to genetic studies.

First, factor analysis demonstrated that CBARQ items can be grouped into 10 behavioral traits, including three types of aggression: stranger-directed aggression, owner-directed aggression, and dog-directed aggression.

The results were remarkably similar to those reported by Hsu and Serpell.

The aggression scores showed considerable variation in our dog families, which is a prerequisite for genetic studies.

Second, retrospective questions enabled us to study changes in the aggressive behavior of the dogs in the course of time.

After an average time interval of 4.3 years, over 50% of the dogs had become less aggressive.

Third, we analyzed data obtained with an aggression test of 83 dogs.

Two out of the three CBARQ aggression factors were also found in the aggression test data.



Source: van den Berg L, Schilder MB, de Vries H, Leegwater PA, van Oost BA. (2007): Phenotyping of aggressive behavior in golden retriever dogs with a questionnaire. In: Behav Genet. 2006 Nov;36(6):882-902.




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