Scientists are starting to identify the chemical differences among dogs of varying dispositions, a step toward understanding aggressive behavior.
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Scruffy, scrawny, colossal, mop-topped—the incredible variety among dogs also includes a range of temperaments. And some canines fall on the aggressive end of the scale, prone to biting people or other dogs. Evan MacLean, a psychologist and anthropologist at the University of Arizona, has been investigating the biology of dog aggression. The chain of events between a dog seeing a potential trigger and reacting with an attack includes changes in blood chemistry, but exactly which chemicals do what has been unclear. In his recent work, MacLean has looked at two hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, and found different levels in aggressive dogs compared to those with an even temper. The hormones may be a cause or an effect of the change in behavior, but just identifying the chemicals as relevant will aid future study.
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What Makes Some Dogs More Aggressive? | Nat Geo Wild
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