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New study into ‘co-operative’ and ‘independent’ breeds

Issue: 26/06/2020

A new study has found that ‘cooperative’ and ‘independent’ dog breeds may not react differently into unfair outcomes.
The research by Jim McGetrick and his colleagues of the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology took 12 dogs from ‘co-operative’ breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Rough Collies. They also took 12 dogs from so-called ‘independent’ worker breeds such as Basenjis, Akita Inus, Siberian Huskies and Shiba Inus.
Inequity aversion, the resistance to inequitable outcomes, has been demonstrated in a wide variety of animals, including dogs.
This aversion is believed to have co-evolved with cooperation but there is only limited evidence to support this belief. The results of this study do no provide support for the hypothesis that inequality aversion and cooperation co-evolved.
To test this hypothesis they used the paw task where an experimenter alternative asked two dogs to give their paw but only one dog was rewarded.
Dogs belonging to both breed groups displayed inequity aversion and there was no significant difference between the groups in the extent of the negative response to inequity or in the impact of inequity on subsequent social behaviours.
There were some between the two groups of dogs. Those from the ‘independent’ breeds were less inclined to offer their paws than those from ‘cooperative’ breeds.
Also, the ‘cooperative’ dogs were more inclined to spend time with their partners when allowed to freely interact than the dogs from ‘independent’ breeds.
The authors of the report believe that the findings provide some evidence for basic breed differences in the tendency to work without rewards and greater sociability which could offer fruitful areas of investigation for future studies of dog breed differences.
In addition, the ‘cooperative’ breeds tended to work longer than the ‘independent’ breeds. This may indicate a history of selection in ‘cooperative’ breeds for increased motivation to work with humans.
To see the study go to –

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