Temperament testing: Is it Worth it?

Considering Temperament Testing? Here are Things to Consider

Whether you’re a first-time breeder, thinking about it, or have been doing it for years, there are plenty of things to consider. You need to think about health screening, the health of your dog, your circumstances, finding the right mate and so much more.

Temperament is just one of the things to think about when considering breeding. Whilst it’s most commonly done with puppies, making sure your dog has a solid temperament and is bred with another of similarly good temperament is something you should take into account.

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Things to Consider Before Breeding Your Dog

There are many reasons for choosing to breed, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Before getting into it, you should consider:

  • Whether you have the time, resources and space to breed
  • Whether your dog is fit and healthy and has good genes
  • The age of your dog
  • Whether you need a license
  • If your dog has the right temperament

This isn’t an extensive list. You’ll also need to factor in things such as what to do if something goes wrong and your reasons for breeding in the first place.

If you want to breed, the Kennel Club UK has details on what health tests are recommended for your breed here. You can also contact their health team for more information, breeding advice and details on specific health tests.

For further advice, we’d always recommend speaking with your local vet. You can also reach out to a local breed club for advice. The Kennel Club has details on their website of clubs throughout the UK.

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What is temperament testing?

As mentioned, this is something that is typically done while the dog is a puppy. Temperament isn’t black and white, studies have shown that temperament is a mixture of environmental and hereditary factors. But to put it simply, temperament testing is a form of behavioural assessment. 

Temperament testing involves assessing how suitable a dog will be for rehoming, or how it would be for things like police work or for being trained as a therapy or guide dog. 

Temperament testing is used to assess behaviours and in some cases, predict future outcomes. It often involves gauging a dog’s reaction to a set of specific stimuli. Different tests are used to see how a dog may react toward anything from toys to being left alone or things such as their reaction to other dogs or people. 

You can find desirable temperament traits for your breed on the Kennel Club UK’s breed standards page.

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Temperament types

Temperament is often classified as personality, but the two do differ. There are different types of temperament, some more obvious than others. But as an overview, you might see:

  • Timid behaviours
  • Independent behaviours
  • Reliant behaviours (where a dog may not be comfortable too far away from you).
  • Calm behaviour
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Sensitive behaviours

The American Kennel Club classifies temperament as ‘an animal’s personality, makeup, disposition, or nature.’ They also note that it isn’t the physical characteristics of a dog or their learned behaviours.

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Who does Temperament Testing in the UK?

There doesn’t appear to be any standardisation for temperament testing in the UK. Trainers, rescues, daycares and individuals will have their own variation of temperament tests, but there is a lack of overall standardisation for temperament testing. 

One UK study used a validated temperament test that had been developed in Italy as a tool to assess the feasibility of existing tests to assess shelter dogs. It showed that by using the same testing they were able to get similar results, especially when measuring certain temperament traits.

You’ll know your dog’s temperament better than anyone, but if you’re looking for further advice, talk to your vet. They may be able to advise on local canine behaviourists who may offer the service. There are people online who claim to offer the service, but make sure to check them out and ask plenty of questions before paying for any services.

Find a list of practising Clinical Animal Behaviourists here

Should I temperament test my puppies?

There are tests you can do yourself whilst the pups are young that involve things like seeing how they are with people, how they react to being handled, how they are with unfamiliar objects etc. 

You can get your puppies tested, and doing so is entirely up to you. As with their parents, you’ll be able to see how they develop as they grow. This will allow you to answer questions about temperament when asked by potential adopters. 

You’ll often know the breed better than most too, so the most important thing to do is advise people on their quirks, typical traits and whether or not the breed would match their lifestyle. The main thing is matching the dog to the right home and making sure everyone is happy!

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