The Canine Behavior and Genetics Project (CBGP) is collaborative effort headed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (PENN) focused on understanding behavioral patterns in dogs and any underlying genetic basis that may drive them.  We are interested in how dogs think and perform, family and genetic patterns affecting performance and cognition, and in anxiety-related conditions that can adversely affect any dog's life.

We are interesting in understanding the development of problem behaviors in pets and in working dogs, and on patterns of desirable and abnormal behavior that are thought to be associated with certain breeds.  Our continuing focus on problem behaviors continues to be on data that allows us to engage in prevention and treatment.  Conditions in which we continue to be particularly interested include, but are not restricted to, canine aggression, reactivity to noises and noise phobias, anxieties related to social conditions, dogs who are distressed when left alone and the link this condition may have to noise reactivity, true fear, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.  We are also interested in working dogs who become unable to work because of their responses to stress or noise, particularly if the dog has been exposed to challenging conditions.   At our core, our focus is to use scientific discovery to create more humane solutions for all dogs - whether they are pets or they work for a living.

We are interested in all breeds, but have recently focused much of our pursuits on herding breeds because of the interests of breeders and owners in sport and work events.  Our research is, and has been, funded by various funding agencies in the US government and various private foundations.

Much of our current research is in collaboration with research geneticists at the United States Air Force (USAF) and the University of Rennes, in France. 

The current team focusing on performance, factors that affect it, and any potential underlying heritable basis of it is composed of Dr. Karen Overall (Penn), a specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine, Dr. Soraya Juarbe-Diaz (Penn), also a specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine, Dr. Arthur Dunham (a biologist and biostatistician), Ms. Donna Dyer (Penn), a licensed veterinary technician with years of animal behavior experience, Dr. Camilla Mauzy and Dr. Victor Chan, geneticists with the USAF, and Dr. Francis Galibert, Emeritus Professor at the Universite de Rennes, France. 

We welcome inquiries from potential collaborators who wish to discuss shared ideas and goals.

All of our ongoing research is on pet and working dogs.  We have studies in which interested individuals can participate which range from asking people to complete a questionnaire, to more complicated studies involving videotaping pets when listening to CDs, and in other situations.  All of our research results are kept completely confidential, and no dogs or humans are ever identified by name in press or in talks.  All of our research is approved by the PENN Institutional Animal Use and Care committee (IACUC).  We are happy to share research findings with interested groups. If you are interested in our ongoing research, see the Current Projects link.

  • If you would like to read about the findings of some of our research projects, please see the downloadble pdfs at our "Articles and Papers" section.

  • If you would like to see photos of our own pets, please go to the "Our Pets" section.

  • If you are interested in upcoming meetings in which research on canine behavior will be discussed, please go to the "Meetings" section.

  • If you have a question, please go to the "Contact Us" section. 

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