July 20, 2017 2:34 pm

Here’s what makes dogs so friendly (and ridiculously adorable)

A study has found why dogs are so friendly.

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U.S. scientists have finally nailed down exactly what makes dogs wag their tails and jump for joy when their owners walk through the door.

The results of a study, published in Science Advances, found that just a few genes make dogs friendlier than wolves. Similar genes are present in humans with Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) — a disorder that makes them extremely social, but impairs critical thinking.

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Researchers came to the conclusion after testing the DNA of dogs and wolves. While personality traits are made up of thousands of genes, evolutionary biologist Bridgett vonHoldt said the differences were related to three key genes: WBSCR17, GTF2I, GTF2IRD1.

“Some of these structural variants could explain a huge shift in a behavioural profile — that you go from being a wolf-like, aloof creature, to something that’s obsessed with a human,” vonHoldt said, according to Inside Science.

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Scientists then tested these three genes in more than 200 dogs from 13 breeds. They found similar results between traditionally friendlier breeds and more independent breeds.

Along with genetics, researchers also studied the behaviour of 18 dogs and 10 wolves that were held together, and found they have similar problem-solving skills. But dogs were way kinder — they got excited when humans walked in and spent more time with them.

WATCH: Why dogs are sensitive to thunderstorms

Dr. Elaine Ostrander, who was part of the research group, told BBC News the information is particularly useful in studying WBS.

“This exciting observation highlights the utility of the dog as a genetic system informative for studies of human disease, as it shows how minor variants in critical genes in dogs result in major syndromic effects in humans,” she said.

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