By JAMES GORMAN
© 2017 New York Times News Service
Tail-wagging, face-licking, jump-in-your-lap friendliness is what dog lovers adore and cat people scorn. But like it or not, the incredible sociability of many — although not all — dogs is universally recognized. It sets dogs apart from their wild relatives.Even the most socialized, friendly wolf is cold company compared with a Labrador retriever in full face-licking mode.
But what produces this social exuberance? A team of researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Science Advances that the friendliness of dogs may share a genetic basis with a human disease called Williams-Beuren syndrome.
Humans with this developmental delay, caused by mutations in a region of genes, show a variety of symptoms that include intense and indiscriminate sociability.
A group of scientists from Princeton, Oregon State
VonHoldt and her colleagues studied a stretch of DNA in dogs that
The study is a first step in what has proved a difficult area of genetic research: finding the roots of complex behavior.
Adam Boyko, a biologist who studies dog genetics at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, called the work “truly interesting and important” and said it “may be one of the first studies to ever identify the specific genetic variants that were important for turning wolves into dogs.”
But, he said, it looks at a small number of animals, and although the genes it identifies are good candidates for producing