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Greg Martin Man's Best Friend
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: February 04, 2014

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Man’s Best Friend. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

Growing up we had a Dachshund, a very faithful dog but not all that bright. Our last dong was a Shepard/Kelpie mix that was completely hyper but smart enough I could have taught it to make breakfast! Well according to a new study from Oregon State University how well a dog follows human commands depends on the the dog’s breed. The study, which was published this month in the journal Animal Behaviour, found that dogs bred for predatory traits are better at following some human gestures. OSU tested three breeds of dogs used for specific purposes: hunting, herding and livestock-guarding. In an experiment, dogs watched a researcher point to one of two identical empty cans. If the dog then approached that same can, food was placed on it. The test was repeated 10 times. So what dogs did the best? Border collies, the herding dogs used in the test, chose the correct can more than 85 percent of the time. Researchers credit their success to the fact that border collies have been bred for exaggerated eye-stalk-chase behavior, hunting traits which dogs inherited from their wolf ancestors. Also, Airedale terriers also performed well, showing 70 percent success in tests. The hunting dogs have predatory instincts most similar to wolves and are extremely responsive to movement and inclined to follow it. It’s a cinch that no dog will be as smart as Rin Tin Tin or Lassie (bark) or even Scooby Doo (laugh). Monique Udell, an animal scientist at OSU and lead author of the study said: “This may allow us to make better placement, ownership and training decisions in the future.”

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.

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