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Animals 2013, 3(3), 663-669; doi:10.3390/ani3030663

Polymorphisms of the Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene in Stabled Horses are Related to Differences in Behavioral Response to Frustration

Faculty of Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University, 1-1 Yanagido Gifu 501-1193, Japan
Department of Veterinary and Medicine Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, 3-5-8 Saiwai, Fuchu, Tokyo 183-8509, Japan
Locust Research Laboratory, National Institute of Agro-biological Sciences at Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8634, Japan
Faculty of Agriculture, Iwate University, Morioka, Iwate 020-8550, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 June 2013 / Revised: 22 July 2013 / Accepted: 24 July 2013 / Published: 26 July 2013
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Simple Summary

In this study, the association between behavioral responses to frustration and DRD4 polymorphisms was investigated in horses. Twenty one horses were observed for 4–4.5 h during feeding for several days. Horses were then genotyped for the DRD4 gene. Behavioral responses to frustration were recorded more frequently in horses without the A allele than in horses with the A allele. These results indicate that polymorphisms of DRD4 should be considered when assessing the welfare of stabled horses, by means of behavioral indicators of frustration.


In stabled horses, behavioral responses to frustration are often observed, especially around feeding time. These behavioral responses are a useful indicator of their welfare. In this study, we investigated the association between this behavioral indicator and DRD4 gene polymorphisms in stabled horses. Twenty one horses housed in two stables were used. The horses were observed for approximately 4 h around feeding over three or more days using focal-sampling and instantaneous-sampling. Horses were genotyped for the A–G substitution in the DRD4 gene. The effects of the A–G substitution (with or without the A allele in the DRD4 gene), the stables, and their interaction on the frequency of behavioral responses to frustration were analyzed using general linear models. The total time budget of behavioral responses to frustration was higher in horses without the A allele than in those with the A allele (P = 0.007). These results indicate that the A–G substitution of the DRD4 gene is related to frustration-related behavioral responses in stabled horses. Appropriate consideration should be made for the DRD4 gene polymorphism when the welfare of stabled horses is assessed, based on this behavioral indicator. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; behaviour; frustration; DRD4 gene; SNPs; stabled horse animal welfare; behaviour; frustration; DRD4 gene; SNPs; stabled horse
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ninomiya, S.; Anjiki, A.; Nishide, Y.; Mori, M.; Deguchi, Y.; Satoh, T. Polymorphisms of the Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene in Stabled Horses are Related to Differences in Behavioral Response to Frustration. Animals 2013, 3, 663-669.

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