Pug versus German Shepherd Dog in Scent Detection? Surprise!

Who’d’a thunk it.
We came across an abstract written by Nathaniel J Hall,  Kelsey Glenn, David W. Smith, and Clive D.L. Wynne in the US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health  (what, you thought we only look at picture books?) in which the performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds were compared on an odor-discrimination task. The results will surprise you. We think the piece was published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, Vol 129(3), Aug 2015, 237-246, and we were able to access only the synopsis, but for anyone inclined to pay a subscription fee, the whole article is available here.
The synopsis? 
Public opinion and the scientific literature alike reflect a widespread assumption that there are differences in behavior between dog breeds. Direct empirical behavioral assessments of such differences, however, are rare and have produced mixed results. One area where breed differences are often assumed is olfaction, where German Shepherds, hounds, and Labradors are commonly used for odor-detection work, whereas toy breeds and brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs, are not. Choice of breed for scent detection work, however, may be driven more by historical choices than data. In this article we directly assessed the ability of German Shepherds, Pugs, and Greyhounds to acquire a simple olfactory discrimination, and their ability to maintain performance when the target odorant was diluted. Our results show that contrary to expectations, Pugs significantly outperformed the German Shepherds in acquiring the odor discrimination and maintaining performance when the odorant concentration was decreased. Nine of ten Greyhounds did not complete acquisition training because they failed a motivation criterion. These results indicate that Pugs outperformed German Shepherds in the dimensions of olfaction assessed. Greyhounds showed a general failure to participate. Overall, our results highlight the importance of direct behavioral measurement of assumed behavioral breed differences.  
Our image (which we found with dumb luck) comes from Pinterest and we’ll happily give proper attribution upon receipt of information.


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