Scientists Find Genetic Link Between Human and Canine Mental Health Issues

A study of anxiety and fearfulness in German Shepherd dogs has identified a genetic connection with certain mental health disorders in humans.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki studied noise sensitivity and general fearfulness (such as fear of new people and situations) in a group of Finnish German Shepherd dogs.

They found that generalized anxiety in dogs can be located to an area of the canine chromosome that corresponds to a similar area of the human chromosome which has been linked to such conditions as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder.

The researchers note that it has been more difficult to identify a genetic cause of noise sensitivity in both dogs and humans.  They think that noise sensitivity may be related to flaws in certain receptors for neurotransmitters, such as oxytocin.

The genetic basis of fearfulness in this group of German Shepherd dogs shows that, in some cases, fearfulness in dogs may be hereditary.  Of course, environmental factors can also play a role in canine anxiety.

You can read the full text of this study HERE.

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