Performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds (Canis lupus familiaris) on an odor-discrimination task

Nathaniel J. Hall, Kelsey Glenn, David W. Smith, Clive Wynne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Public opinion and the scientific literature alike reflect a widespread assumption that there are differences in behavior between dog breeds. Direct empirical behavioral assessments of such differences, however, are rare and have produced mixed results. One area where breed differences are often assumed is olfaction, where German Shepherds, hounds, and Labradors are commonly used for odor-detection work, whereas toy breeds and brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs, are not. Choice of breed for scent detection work, however, may be driven more by historical choices than data. In this article we directly assessed the ability of German Shepherds, Pugs, and Greyhounds to acquire a simple olfactory discrimination, and their ability to maintain performance when the target odorant was diluted. Our results show that contrary to expectations, Pugs significantly outperformed the German Shepherds in acquiring the odor discrimination and maintaining performance when the odorant concentration was decreased. Nine of 10 Greyhounds did not complete acquisition training because they failed a motivation criterion. These results indicate that Pugs outperformed German Shepherds in the dimensions of olfaction assessed. Greyhounds showed a general failure to participate. Overall, our results highlight the importance of direct behavioral measurement of assumed behavioral breed differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-246
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Volume129
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

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olfaction
Greyhound
Canis lupus
German Shepherd
odor
odors
Dogs
Aptitude
breed differences
Smell
smell
odor compounds
miniature breeds
Literature
Newfoundland and Labrador
hounds
public opinion
Play and Playthings
Public Opinion
dog breeds

Keywords

  • Breed differences
  • Canine
  • Domestic dogs
  • Olfaction
  • Scent detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds (Canis lupus familiaris) on an odor-discrimination task. / Hall, Nathaniel J.; Glenn, Kelsey; Smith, David W.; Wynne, Clive.

In: Journal of Comparative Psychology, Vol. 129, No. 3, 01.08.2015, p. 237-246.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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