University of Oulu

Sarviaho, R., Hakosalo, O., Tiira, K. et al. A novel genomic region on chromosome 11 associated with fearfulness in dogs. Transl Psychiatry 10, 169 (2020).

A novel genomic region on chromosome 11 associated with fearfulness in dogs

Saved in:
Author: Sarviaho, R.1,2,3; Hakosalo, O.1,2,3; Tiira, K.1,2,3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
3Folkhälsan Research Center, 00290, Helsinki, Finland
4Equine and Small Animal Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5Department of Mathematical Sciences, Biocenter Oulu and Infotech Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-07-03


The complex phenotypic and genetic nature of anxieties hampers progress in unravelling their molecular etiologies. Dogs present extensive natural variation in fear and anxiety behaviour and could advance the understanding of the molecular background of behaviour due to their unique breeding history and genetic architecture. As dogs live as part of human families under constant care and monitoring, information from their behaviour and experiences are easily available. Here we have studied the genetic background of fearfulness in the Great Dane breed. Dogs were scored and categorised into cases and controls based on the results of the validated owner-completed behavioural survey. A genome-wide association study in a cohort of 124 dogs with and without socialisation as a covariate revealed a genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 11. Whole exome sequencing and whole genome sequencing revealed extensive regions of opposite homozygosity in the same locus on chromosome 11 between the cases and controls with interesting neuronal candidate genes such as MAPK9/JNK2, a known hippocampal regulator of anxiety. Further characterisation of the identified locus will pave the way for molecular understanding of fear in dogs and may provide a natural animal model for human anxieties.

see all

Series: Translational psychiatry
ISSN: 2158-3188
ISSN-E: 2158-3188
ISSN-L: 2158-3188
Volume: 10
Article number: 169
DOI: 10.1038/s41398-020-0849-z
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
3111 Biomedicine
4111 Agronomy
112 Statistics and probability
Funding: The study was supported by the European Research Council, ERC (Grant No. 260997 DOGPSYCH) (; Academy of Finland (268019); ERA-NET Neuron Mental Disorders; the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation: the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri, Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, Alfred Kordelin Foundation, ILS Doctoral Program of University of Helsinki, the Folkhälsan Research Center, DVM Doctoral Program of University of Helsinki, and University of Oulu.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit