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Analyzing Causes of Behavioral Changes in Belgian Malinois

Some Belgian Malinois may experience seizures and unpredictable behavioral changes, including eyes glazing over, a lack of response to environmental stimuli and a loss of behavioral inhibition characterized by such behaviors as owner-directed biting. Dogs with severe behavioral changes may be euthanized because of their threat to humans and other dogs. the researchers hope to identify a mutation in a neurotransmitter-related gene that may play an important role in seizures and extreme behaviors. identifying dogs with this mutation would allow breeders to select against these traits and carefully target homes for puppies according to buyer background and experience. This breed is increasingly used in working environments that involve substantial interaction with the public, so a genetic test would provide an objective genetic measure that is strongly predictive of health and behavioral issues at early ages.

Dr. Anita M. Oberbauer, University of California–Davis