Temperament Assessment – Notes for Owners



The position of the dog in society and the attitude of society towards dogs, regardless of breed, have undergone quite striking changes in the last few years.  No longer is he regarded as “man’s best friend” and the growth of a powerful anti-dog lobby has meant that the overwhelming coverage given to dogs and dog incidents / events has been both negative and critical.

So the importance for breeding for sound temperament and then building on that by socialising the puppy is now more important than ever.  Apart from having a pleasant companion around the house you have an animal that is a pleasure to take out and about in public – one, moreover, which will do a good public relations job not only for the breed but for dogs in general.

Many owners may not have any experience of what is involved in temperament assessment and may feel some apprehensions on that score.  It is purely what its name implies and not an assessment of the owner’s ability as a trainer.  It is concerned with how the dog behaves in everyday settings, eg:

  • What sort of impression does it give?  Friendly, reserved, calm, confident, etc.
  • How does it react to a friendly approach?  A dog of sound temperament should not show fear of or aggression towards a person approaching its handler in a normal manner [unless trained in an undesirable way]
  • Reaction to an unusual approach  –  perhaps someone with a limp or on crutches or carrying a large package of some sort over a shoulder, walks past the dog.  The dog is never threatened.
  • Reaction to noise  –  daily life in urban areas always embraces exposure to noise of some sort or another, cars backfiring, loud engines, aircraft flying overhead and so on.
  • Reaction to traffic moving and stationary.
  • Reaction to unusual obstacles that are encountered in normal surroundings eg, roadworks, small ditch, low fence etc.
  • Reaction to other dogs (non-aggressive), to a crowd of friendly / neutral people.
There is nothing to worry owners in this schedule and of course there is no attempt made to “trick” the dog.  It is never left with a bad experience.  That is not the purpose of the exercise which is to identify those dogs which show the desired character for the breed, enabling their owners to have a mutually pleasurable relationship with them.
Updated January 2009