Boar Taint Chemical Calms Naughty Dogs

US - Texas Tech University researchers have found that androstenone - one of the natural chemicals responsible for boar taint in some male pigs - can stop barking and excitable dogs, writes Jackie Linden.
calendar icon 10 February 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

Some dogs display behaviours such as excessive barking and jumping. Unwanted behaviour can often lead to animal abuse or pet relinquishment to a shelter.

This study - by John J. McGlone and colleagues at Texas Tech University - focused on the effects of androstenone on the behaviour of dogs showing a barking and jumping syndrome.

Their paper is published in Professional Animal Scientist.

In the first study, barking dogs were sprayed with (a) nothing, (b) a placebo spray with sound or noise, (c) the same as (b) plus 0.1μg per mL androstenone in isopropyl alcohol, (d) the same as (b) plus 1.0μg per mL androstenone in isopropyl alcohol.

Dogs were videotaped for one minute after treatment was applied.

Treatments were effective at stopping barking and jumping in 25, 44, 78, and 100 per cent of the barking and jumping dogs, respectively. Videos of the behavioural effects are available for viewing online.

A second study examined the effects of androstenone on heart rate and behaviour while dogs were calm. Four 'anxious' dogs were fitted with telemetry jackets and transmitters, heart rate was monitored continually, and cameras recorded behavior. Dog heart-rate data were measured for 10 minutes before and treatment, 10 minuntes after isopropyl alcohol spray, and 10 minutes after a spray in the snout with androstenone.

Neither androstenone nor isopropyl alcohol changed the heart rate of dogs compared with baseline.

The pig pheromone, androstenone, working as an interomone reduced excitable behaviours of dogs, cocnluded McGlone and colleagues. Behaviour modification using pheromones can improve animal welfare by reducing the incidence of unwanted barking and jumping behaviours in dogs.

Androstenone stops dog excitability through the olfactory system, added the Lubbock-based team; it is a pheromone produced by pigs but acts as a powerful interomone in the dog.


McGlone J.J., W.G. Thompson and K.A. Guay, 2014. Case Study: The pig pheromone androstenone, acting as an interomone, stops dogs from barking. Professional Animal Scientist. 30(1):105-108.

Further Reading

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