Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 2012

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Major

Biology

Primary Subject Area

Biology, General

Keywords

Neophilia, Dogs, Domestication

Disciplines

Biology

Abstract

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.

Included in

Biology Commons

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