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  • Understanding Gene-Behavior Relationships in Domestic Dogs. Presented by Dr. Nathaniel Hall

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Understanding Gene-Behavior Relationships in Domestic Dogs. Presented by Dr. Nathaniel Hall

  • Friday, November 15, 2019
  • (CST)
  • Saturday, November 15, 2025
  • (CST)
  • On Demand - Access the Recording as Soon as You Register!



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The domestic dog is an excellent model for the study of behavioral genetics and gene-behavior relationships. A growing scientific literature is starting to identify gene-behavior associations for a wide variety of canine behaviors. While this is making important advances in our basic understanding of gene-behavior relationships, it is sometimes difficult to understand the implications of these studies for pet owners, trainers, and the pet community. Especially in times of breed specific legislation, it is critical to draw upon the scientific literature and critically evaluate the body of literature on gene-behavior relationships in dogs.  

The aim of this session is to slowly and comprehensively break down the methods and findings of current canine behavioral genetic research and contextualize the results for real-world implications. We will cover topics on behavioral genetics, genome wide associations studies (GWAS), candidate gene studies, and epigenetics. While results from these studies are discussed in the media and the pet community, discussions regarding the quality of behavioral phenotyping and effect sizes is often missing, which are arguably the most important discussions to have regarding the implications of any study.  

The session will turn the initiated consumer of science into an informed reader of genetics research and will have a greater understanding of the current state of the field. It will discuss why there is currently no genetic test for aggression and whether such a test may be feasible in the future. It will also discuss the evolving field of epigenetics and how this has changed our understanding of gene-behavior relationships. A basic understanding of genetics will be helpful background but will not be a requirement to meet the learning objectives.  

Learning Objectives: 

  • Describe different methodologies for genetics research. 
  • Identify benefits and limitations of each method. 
  • Identify which method was used by a recently published study. 
  • Contextualize the meaning of the results of a recent study and indicate what conclusions can be drawn. 
  • Read a new scientific study and be able to evaluate the strength of the conclusions and implications for your pet community. 

Your Presenter

Dr. Nathaniel Hall

Dr. Nathaniel Hall is an assistant professor of companion animal science at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and the director of the canine olfaction research and education laboratory in the department of animal science. Dr. Hall earned his Ph.D at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, specializing in the study of behavior analysis and canine olfaction. As a postdoctoral researcher, he continued his studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona investigating the optimization of training to enhance canine’s detection of home-made explosives. Now at Texas Tech, his work continues to explore canine olfactory perception and how experience influences odor perception. His lab also investigates predictors and correlates of problem behavior, behavioral predictors of working aptitude, and canine health. Throughout his career, Dr. Hall has published numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters.


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