About Us

Dogs show an extraordinary diversity of different body sizes, snout lengths, ear types, and coat types. But is this variation only skin deep? Dr. Erin Hecht started the Canine Brains Project in 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia when she began to wonder if dogs’ brains and minds were just as variable as their outward appearances. As of 2019, the project is now based in Cambridge, Massachussetts and is managed by the Hecht Lab of Harvard University.

The Canine Brains Project seeks to quantify neural, temperamental, and behavioral variation across dogs and other canids. This data will help us to better understand why dogs are the way they are. For example, which parts of the canine brain contribute to sociality, motivation, emotional reactivity, and prey drive? What do those brain-behavior relationships look like across breeds or landraces, within bloodlines, or across individuals? How were those brain-behavior relationships shaped over the course of dog domestication? And, how do the brains and behaviors of domestic dogs differ from those of wild canids?


To answer all these questions and more, our multi-institutional team of scientists use a variety of methods, including neuroimaging, behavioral experiments, survey collection, and genetic testing. We are all dog lovers who do not harm the dogs who are involved in our research.

We currently have a variety of online and in-person studies for dog owners to get involved in. Please click through our website’s menu to learn more about each one. You can help make our research a success by allowing us to study what makes your dog’s brain special!

Follow us on social media for research updates and clips of dogs participating in our studies. On our Instagram account, we also post new findings from the field of canine science in our "Dog Facts" series.

Instagram: @canine_brains

Twitter: @LabHecht, @pawgamesstudy, @howlingstudy

Facebook: Canine Brains

Canine Brains Project