Genetics of Domesticated Behavior in Dogs and Foxes

Anna V. Kukekova, Lyudmila N. Trut, Gregory M. Acland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Dog domestication involved long-term genetic selection for behavior. The genetics-centered view of domestication is supported by experimental selection of farm-foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that began in the 1950s. Selection of foxes, separately, for tame and for aggressive behavior, has yielded two strains with markedly different, genetically determined behavioral phenotypes. Tame-strain foxes communicate with humans in a positive manner and are eager to establish human contact. Foxes from aggressive strains are aggressive to humans and difficult to handle. Although selected solely for behavior, changes in physiology, morphology, and appearance with significant parallels to characteristics of the domestic dog, were observed in tame-strain. Ongoing research is focused on identification of molecular genetic mechanisms associated with selection of foxes for behavior. Identification of behavioral loci in the fox genome in the region which is homologous to the region in the dog genome that differentiates dogs from wolves lead to the hypothesis that domesticated behavior in dogs and foxes may have similar genetic bases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGenetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9780123945860
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aggressive
  • Dogs
  • Farm
  • Foxes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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