Dr. Megan Maxwell summarizes a recent survey study in which researchers examined owner-reported noise sensitivities across various dog breeds.

Storengen, L. M., & Lingaas, F. (2015). Noise sensitivity in 17 breeds: Prevalence, breed risk and correlation with fear in other situations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 171, 152-160.

In this recent study out of Norway, researchers conducted an online survey of members of 17 breed clubs answering on behalf of a total of 5,257 dogs. Dog owners were asked to rank their dog’s fear of loud noises/gunshots, fireworks, thunderstorms, and heavy traffic each on a 5-point scale ranging from “No signs” to “Very strong signs” of fear. They were also asked to rank their dog’s fear of novel situations, separation related behavior, and rate of calming after a stressful situation.

Fear was most commonly reported in response to fireworks (21% of dogs were reported to exhibit strong or very strong signs of fear) and gunshots (14% of dogs). Fewer dogs exhibited fear responses to loud noises/gunshots (10%) and less than 3% were reported to exhibit fear responses to heavy traffic.

There were statistically significant differences across breeds – for example, just 8% of Chinese Crested dogs exhibited fear of fireworks while 32% of Norwegian Buhunds did. Significant differences between breeds were also evidenced in prevalence of fearful responses to thunderstorms and loud noises (e.g., significantly higher rates in Lagotto Romagnolo and lower rates in Great Danes and Boxers).

There were positive correlations between types of fear exhibited. That is, dogs who were afraid of one type of event were more likely to be afraid of another type of event, with the strongest correlation found between fireworks and gunshots. Dogs who were fearful of noises were also more likely to exhibit separation related fear, according to their owners. Female dogs were slightly more likely than males to exhibit fear responses and there was a positive correlation between the dog’s age and likelihood of exhibiting fear in response to loud noises (prevalence of fear increased with age).

For a complete list of breeds surveyed and prevalence of fear responses by breed, access the full paper at:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159115002233

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