The purpose of this research project was an investigation
into the genetic
factors related to canine temperament. We began by testing 197 guide dog
candidates, which were divided into three groups: those who passed the
guide dog aptitude examination, those who did not pass, and those who
failed to qualify due to medical reasons alone. We then conducted an analysis
of the behavioral evaluation of each group.
The dogs chosen as subjects for the study by Hashizume's research group
were guide dog candidates raised by the Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc.,
located in the San Francisco Suburb Area, CA. By variety, 130 of the dogs
chosen were Labradors, 25 were Golden Retrievers, 20 were mixtures of
these two breeds, while 22 were German Shepherds, for a total of 197.
To begin with, we conducted analyses of the behavioral evaluations generated
by each guide dog candidate's trainer, taking into consideration the scoring
of the behavioral evaluation and whether the dog had passed the guide
dog qualification exam. We then examined a section of the dog's DNA analogous
to the position in human DNA of monoamin oxidase A (MAOA), which has been
found to be associated with aggression in rodents, for the presence of
"Up to now, scoring for both anxiety tendency and aggressiveness
have been heavily weighted in the screening of dogs for appropriateness
as guide animals. However, a statistical analysis of the distribution
of behavioral evaluation figures showed that aggression scores in dogs
that passed the qualification screening were significantly lower than
those for dogs that did not pass. This result reflects the fact that guide
dog qualification tests at the Guide Dogs For the Blind, Inc. places more
importance on aggressiveness more than anxiety tendencies.
"Since previous reports have included varying results with respect
to this point, we would like to move ahead with more thorough analysis
of more detailed data. But the results of the genetic analysis showed
no instances of polymorphism in the DNA segments under study. Thus, we
intend to continue our search for behavior-related genetic material, expanding
the extent of the DNA segments covered in the search, as well as the group
of dogs under study."
This research project was the subject of the second annual
scholarship, and was selected for the award in 1999. Due to a delay in
the starting time of the study, the research report was presented to us
one year later than planned.