How well can we identify the breeds in a mixed-breed dog by appearance alone? How much is breed-specific behavior influenced by the way different breeds are treated? Now you can help scientists find out!
The Mutt-Mix Project
Darwin’s Dogs and the International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants are collaborating to learn more about the ways small changes in the DNA of dogs over time have influenced canine behavior. Project Mutt-Mix uses a citizen science survey to gather information about how well people can identify dog breeds in a mixed-breed animal.
The survey is the first step towards a larger goal of understanding how people perceive different breeds, and how this perception influences our relationship to dogs.
You don’t have to be a dog parent to participate! Anyone will be able to test his/her breed recognition skills through a short survey. Participants will receive a certificate of participation as well as the answers to the survey in about two months This survey hasn’t launched, but those who are interested can sign up now.
A better understanding of breed-specific behaviors may help to prevent breed discrimination. This knowledge may also help advance training techniques to better match breed characteristics and owner expectations.
Darwin’s Dogs is run by the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and UMass Medical School. The project studies canine genetics to understand and to develop treatments for psychiatric and neurological disease in both humans and animals. Like the Mutt-Mix project, Darwin’s Dogs relies on citizen science surveys.
Participating dog owners complete a series of brief surveys. Once an owner completes ten surveys, they are eligible to submit a saliva sample for their dog. From each sample analyzed, owners will receive information about their dog’s genetics and breed. Scientists will compare the genetic information to behavioral data provided by the owner. Scientists will not analyze every sample submitted. Instead, the scientists will select samples for analysis based on the needs of the project. Enroll your dog(s) at Darwin’s Dogs enroll to begin.
Together, the Mutt-Mix project and Darwin’s Dogs provide an opportunity for dog lovers to contribute to science. Sign up today and get started.
What do you think? Are you already participating in Darwin’s Dogs? Comment below to share your story.