Crossbreeding and special handling of genetically nervous dogs
In studies of a healthy (A) and a nervous (E) genetic strain of pointer dogs, two techniques were utilized to determine environmental and hereditary influences. These were (1) reciprocal crossbreeding to females from each strain, and (2) split litters with special handling and human attention to one-half of each litter of nervous strain origin from birth through age six months.
It is not possible to attribute the nervous behavior to an environmental mother effect since crossbred AE and EA offspring were highly similar on behavior tests of brief exploratory activity, rigid posturing to a loud noise and human avoidance behavior. Furthermore, special handling had almost no success in normalizing the responses of the nervous dogs in the behavior tests or in heart rate response to Effect-of-Person procedures. The results show that the biologic origin of the dogs is the most likely source of the nervousness; this has placed severe limits thus far on attempts to attenuate the condition.
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