Researchers from Sweden and the UK examined the heritability of dog ownership using data from Swedish Twin Registry. As they write in Scientific Reports, the researchers uncovered a strong genetic contribution to owning a dog in adulthood. They estimated heritability to be 57 percent for women and 51 for men.
"We were surprised to see that a person's genetic makeup appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog," says first author Tove Fall from Uppsala University in a statement. "As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times."
In their paper, the researchers suggest that genetic variation among humans may have contributed to the ability to domesticate dogs and other animals and that genes affecting dog ownership might also influence human health, as other studies have found owning a dog has health benefits.