Over the weekend I watched a documentary called Science of Dogs. The documentary discussed how there is greater physical and behavioral variety among dogs than any other species. In the 19th century people began to breed dogs to satisfy certain desired traits in a canine companion- the ultimate selective breeding experiment. One of the interesting breeds the film focused on was the Dogo Argentino (shown in picture!). These dogs were specifically created to hunt crop-destroying wild boars. The dogs are aggressive, fearless, and strong. The breeders mixed a number of different breeds for their desirable traits, such as Pointers for a good sense of smell, Great Danes for size, Mastiffs for aggression, and Pyrenees for a white coat that can be seen in the brush. This genetic, behavioral, and physical manipulation made me realize how different breeds of dogs have reliable, unique, and inheritable behavioral traits. This made me wonder- how do the brains of different dog breeds differ? Does a Dogo Argentino have a smaller amygdala than other breeds, reducing fear?
Furthermore, apparently dogs have many similar psychological disorders as humans. For example, certain breeds are more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder. The documentary showed a dog with PTSD who could not stop chasing his own tail. He would literally chase his tail for hours until he either vomited or went unconscious. What can we learn from these animals? How can we help them with psychological disorders? Do the same medications that are effective treatments for human psychological disorders work in dogs? Do we have an ethical obligation to aid animals with psychological disorders because they cannot help themselves?
Check out the documentary on Netflixs!