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‘Decision to own a dog ‘heavily influenced by genes’
"...these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times."
Twin study shows DNA plays a big part in dog ownership

Genetics may play a big role in our decision to get a dog, according to a recent twin study.

A team of researchers from the UK and Sweden looked at more than 35,000 twin pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry. The findings, published in Scientific Reports, suggest that genetic variation explains over half of the variations in dog ownership.

Concordance rates of dog ownership were also much higher in identical twins than non-identical.

Researchers said this suggests the decision to get a dog is heavily influenced by a person’s genetic make up.

Lead author Professor Tove Fall, from Uppsala University, commented: “As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times.

“Although dogs and other pets are common household members across the globe, little is known how they impact our daily life and health. Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others.”

Co-author Dr Carri Westgarth from the University of Liverpool added: “These findings are important as they suggest that supposed health benefits of owning a dog reported in some studies may be partly explained by different genetics of the people studied.”

Twin studies are a well-known method of determining the influence of genetics and the environment on our body and behaviour. Whilst the recent study cannot identify which genes are involved, researchers said it does show for the first time that genetics and environment play roughly equal roles in determining dog ownership.

Professor Patrik Magnusson, head of the Swedish Twin Registry, said the next logical step is to identify which genetic variants affect this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors.

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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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News Shorts
BEVA survey seeks views about antibiotic use in horses

Equine vets are being invited to participate in a BEVA survey that aims to find out more about antimicrobial resistance in equine veterinary practice.

Designed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and incoming BEVA president Tim Mair, the survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge about how antimicrobials are being used in equine practice and the landscape of resistant infections encountered in equine practice.

Researchers hope the results will lead to a greater understanding of the role of antimicrobial treatment and antimicrobial resistance in horses and protect antibiotics for the future of equine and human health.