College of Arts and Sciences
Primary Subject Area
Neophilia, Dogs, Domestication
Kniowski, Lydia, "Object Neophilia in Domestic Purebred Dogs" (2012). Senior Honors Theses. 289.
Neophilia is defined as a preference for novelty. This characteristic has been described in a variety of animal species, and may have been a contributing factor in the domestication of dogs. This study tested three purebred dog breeds for neophilia with inanimate objects. Observations of dogs’ selections when presented with two familiar toys and a novel toy were analyzed. Novel toys were preferred in 60% of selections presenting a significant neophilic trend (P=0.002). Of the breeds analyzed, Labradors selected novel toys 53% of the time, while Brittanys preferred them in 67% of selections. Although both breeds showed a neophilic trend, only in one was it significant (Brittanys, P=0.009). Differing degrees of neophilic tendency may exist among breeds. These tendencies may have played a role in the domestication of dogs, and may lend insight into breed characteristics.