Working Dog Study

My name is Sophie Barton and I’m a graduate student scientist at Harvard University. In collaboration
with the University of Georgia and Georgia State University, I’m running a research study examining the brains of working dogs. We are currently enrolling Laikas because we are interested in studying primitive/ancient working dogs.

Here is some brief info about the study. We are looking for dogs that are actively engaged in breed-
specific behaviors (e.g., Beagles that hunt rabbits regularly, Border Collies that herd sheep regularly). If
possible, we are also looking for littermate or blood-relatives that are either family pets that never work
or “washouts” that don’t show much working skill. Our aim is to 1) pinpoint the differences in the brains
of dogs bred for entirely different tasks and 2) determine how the environment shapes the brains of
working dogs of similar genetic backgrounds. Here is our website and a recent article about our

The study takes place at the veterinary teaching hospital at the University of Georgia under the
supervision of a board-certified veterinary neurologist. The owners fill out some surveys about their
dogs’ behavior while their dog gets an MRI brain scan. Prior to the scan, the dogs get a brief health exam
and have bloodwork done to make sure they are safe for the MRI. We normally start around 9am and
are finished around lunch time, but we can be flexible with scheduling if needed. We can scan up to 2
dogs during a single appointment if necessary.

Currently we are looking for dogs that live near Georgia but in the future we will also be recruiting dogs that live near Massachusetts. If you live too far away to participate in the MRI portion of the study, you could complete some online surveys about your dogs.

Please contact me at my email if you're interested in participating.

Thank you for reading,



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