This story should raise a lot of hackles. According to Ethologist Kenth Svartberg of Sweden’s Stockholm University purebred dogs are getting dumber.
Svartberg claims due to modern breeding practices we are diminishing intelligence. Are we dumbing down our dogs?
Svartberg tested 13,000 dogs to determine the degree to which they exhibited traits such as curiosity and sociability. He used the findings to rate the intelligence of 31 breeds. The Telegraph reports on the results:
He found that those bred for appearance, and especially for shows, displayed reduced levels of all these qualities. He also found that attractive appearance was often linked with introversion and a boring personality.
Dr. Svartberg said: “Perhaps the genes behind attractive looks could also be closely linked to those that cause fearfulness.”
Svartberg’s research showed that some breeds that were originally intended to perform important jobs requiring skill and intelligence — such as the smooth collie, bred for herding, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, bred for hunting — were among those hardest hit by the trend of breeding for looks.
Further, “[the] trend is reflected in the popularity of so-called ‘handbag dogs’,” notes the Telegraph.
So, what’s the conclusion, are dogs or scientists getting dumber? Give me a bark.