New Study Says Short-Nosed Dogs More Affectionate, Make Better Guard Dogs

Though the dogs are prone to health problems and aren't as long-lived, they are still as popular as ever.

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Short-nosed dogs are more affectionate and make better guard dogs, according to a new study. Via existentist/Wikipedia
John Virata

Is your best furry friend a Pug, a Lhasa Apso or a Bulldog or any other short- or snub-nosed dog? Well, your dog, although more prone to breathing problems, might be more affectionate than dogs with longer snouts and even serve as better guard dogs, according to a new study published in the PLOS One Journal.

University of Sydney Professor Paul McGreevy, a co-author of the study and an animal behavior and animal welfare expert, said that dogs with shorter noses often have more breathing problems than long-nosed dogs, and often require surgery to fix those breathing issues, which can be costly, but there must be a compelling reason that folks still want these breeds, according to Discovery News.

The Lhasa Apso is a short-nosed breed long known as a guard dog for Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. Via Alzberger/Wikipedia

The Lhasa Apso is a short-nosed breed long known as a guard dog for Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. Via Alzberger/Wikipedia

“If people accept short-skulled dogs are likely to cost more, suffer health problems and die earlier, then there must be something else that gets people across the line,” Professor McGreevy said.

“Yes the dogs look cute, but I think it’s their beguiling behavior that compensates for the disadvantages of owning them.”

In McGreevy’s study, the relationships between more than 60,000 dogs covering 45 breeds and their owners were analyzed. The researchers looked at the behavior of the dogs compared to their physical characteristics, employing 60 standardized tests. Both dolichocephalic dogs, those with long and pointy snouts, and brachycephalic dogs, the short-nosed dogs, were studied.

What they found was interesting. They noted that the shape of the dog’s skull influenced the behavior of the animal. Dogs with short noses were more affectionate than long-nosed dogs and more eagerly followed commands from their owners. The short-nosed dogs also responded to strangers more aggressively than long-nosed dogs, raising their tails and hackles, and growling and barking more readily, according to the study.

When the researchers employed so-called ghosts (persons employing a white sheet covering their body, with a bucket with painted eyes on the head), a cardboard cutout of a human and assistants to analyze a dog’s aggressiveness toward the unfamiliar, they found that the heavier, shorter and brachycephalic dogs were more aggressive toward the ghosts and the dummies, while the smaller brachycephalic dogs were more aggressive to the unmasked assistants, compared to long-nosed dogs.

Prof. McGreevy describes the Afhgan Hound, a long nose breed, as aloof, and not a very good guard dog. Via Томасина/Wikipedia

Prof. McGreevy describes the Afhgan Hound, a long nose breed, as aloof, and not a very good guard dog. Via Томасина/Wikipedia

“This helps explain why Greyhounds don’t generally excel as guard dogs and Afghans tend to be aloof, less playful and more fearful than shorter-skulled dogs,” McGreevy told Discovery News.

McGreevy said that while the short-nosed dogs have become extremely popular due to their inherent friendliness and trainability, there is a tradeoff, and that is potential health problems and a suspected shorter life than dogs with long noses.

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