Scent-Mediated Kin Recognition and a Similar Type of Long-Term Olfactory Memory in Domestic Dogs (Canis Familiaris)



Eight purebred dogs, separated from their mother for 7’68 months (Median: 33) spent more time (p <. 02) reacting to her scent than to that of an unfamiliar, like-breed female, thus displaying scent-mediated kin recognition. Newborn dogs reared for sale are nurtured by human caretakers, thereby creating an enduring social bond. Consistent with this view, 9 purebred dogs separated from their caretaker for 11’39 months (Median: 13) spent more time (p <. 01) reacting to their caretaker’s scent than to that of a like-sex stranger living with a dog of the same breed and sex. The temporal limits of scent-mediated kin recognition and memory of their caretaker’s scent remain to be explored.


Endogenous Opioid Cocker Spaniel Reliable Preference Human Caretaker Human Scent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bekoff, M. 1993. The necessity and inevitability of social bonding between researchers and animals. Anim. Behav. Consult. Newsletter, 10(4) 1–2.Google Scholar
  2. Colgan, P. 1983. Comparative Social Recognition. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. D’Amato, F.R. & Pavone, F. 1993. Endogenous opioids: a proximate reward mechanism for kin selection? Behav. & Neur. Biol., 60, 79–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Davis, S.F. & Ludvigson, H.W. 1995. Odor memory in nonhumans. In: Memory for Odors (Ed. by F.R. Schab & R.G. Crowder), pp. 133–157. Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Ginsburg, B.E. & Hiestand, L. 1992. Humanity’s “best friend”: the origins of our inevitable bond with dogs. In: The Inevitable Bond: Scientist-Animal Interactions (Ed. by H. Davis & D. Balfour), pp. 93–108. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hepper, P.G. 1994. Long-term retention of kinship recognition established during infancy in the domestic dog. Special issue: individual and social recognition. Behav. Process. 33, (1–2), 3-14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Johnston, R.E. & Jernigan, P. 1994. Golden hamsters recognize individuals, not just individual scents. Anim. Behav. 48, 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Leon, M. 1978. Filial responses to olfactory cues in the laboratory rat. Adv. Study Behav., 8, 117–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Leon M., Galef, B.G. Jr. & Behse, J.H. 1977. Establishment of pheromonal bonds and diet choice in young rats by odor pre-exposure. Physiol. & Behav., 18, 387–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mekosh-Rosenbaum, V., Carr, W.J., Goodwin, J.L., Thomas, P.L., D’Ver, A. & Wysocki, C.J. 1994. Age-dependent responses to chemosensory cues mediating kin recognition in dogs (Canis familiaris). Physiol. & Behav., 55, 495–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Morell, V. 1997. The origin of dogs: running with the wolves. Science, 276, 1647–1648.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Panksepp J., Herman, B.H., Vilberg, T, Bishop, P. & DeEskinazi, F.G. 1980. Endogenous opioids and social behavior. Neurosci. & Biobehav. Rev., 4, 473–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rosenblatt, J.S. 1983. Olfaction mediates developmental transition in the altricial newborn of selected species of mammals. Dev. Psychobiol., 16, 347–375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Scott, J.R 1967. The development of social motivation. Nebr. Symp. Motiv. 15, 111–132.Google Scholar
  15. Scott, J.P. 1992. The phenomenon of attachment in human-nonhuman relationships. In: The Inevitable Bond: Examining Scientist-Animal Interactions. (Ed. by H. Davis & D. Balfour), pp. 72–92. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Sherman, P.W. & Holmes, W.G. 1985. Kin recognition: issues and evidence. In: Experimental Behavioral Ecology (Ed. by B. Holldobler & M. Lindauer.), pp 437–460. New York: Verlag. 437-46Google Scholar
  17. Vila, C, Savolainen, P., Maldonaldo, J.E., Amorim, I.R., Rice, J.E., Honeycutt, R.L., Crandall, K.A., Lundeberg, J., & Wayne, R.K. 1997. Multiple and ancient origins of the domestic dog. Science, 276, 1687–1689.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Wallace, P. 1977. Individual discrimination of humans by odor. Physiol. & Behav. 19, 577–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beaver CollegeGlensideUSA

Personalised recommendations