Does dog breed affect behavior? In a word, yes. – American Kennel Club

A recent study published in Science investigated whether a dog’s breed determines its personality, based on community science data from Darwin’s Ark. It has nothing to do with their race,” but is it really that simple?

“I think it’s dangerous to tell someone it doesn’t matter what breed of dog you have…I’m really worried about some of the messages going around about this article” , said study co-author Dr. Jessica Hekman. the Cog Dog Radio podcast. She told the American Kennel Club that the original intent of the study was to add to the scientific literature on dogs with respect to behavior and “not to provide advice to people who buy pets. “.

We spoke to experts in dog training, health and genetics, as well as study co-author Hekman herself, to better understand why dog ​​breeds and genetics are definitely To do and how socialization of any dog ​​or breed is key to bringing out the best expression in a dog and personality.

Do different dog breeds have different personalities?

Each dog is just that: an individual. While one dog may rush to the door excitedly to greet visitors while another dog of the same breed may simply lounge on the sofa undisturbed, dog breed type will likely predict common traits, including including your pet’s energy or stubbornness. According to Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinarian of the American Kennel Club, as soon as humans began domesticating dogs, they chose the dogs that were the easiest to manage and handle, as well as those useful for everyday activities like the hunt. , guard and company.

“Through selective breeding over many, many generations, certain qualities and characteristics were continually selected, refined and became more ingrained in certain dogs, eventually becoming a certain group of dogs (Sporting, Greyhounds, Greyhounds), and then even more away, becoming races,” he explains.

Penny Leigh, CPDT-KA and Program Manager for AKC Canine Partners and AKC GoodDog! Telephone support, accepted. “Purebred dog breeds have been developed, some for hundreds of years, for a specific purpose, whether to huddle on your lap, hunt birds, herd livestock or pull sleds,” says- she. “They were bred for traits that would produce the best dogs for their intended jobs – and those traits still define their personality today even when not used in their intended roles.”

There may be specific behavioral differences between similar breeds within a breed group, such as the Herding group or the Terrier group, or within a subgroup, such as the pointing breeds or the establishment, says Dr. Jerold Bell, assistant professor of genetics at the Cummings School of Veterinary. medicine at Tufts University. However, the differences between these groups are based on hundreds of years of selection for specific behaviors.

“There’s no doubt that ‘instinct’ is a big factor in purebred dog behavior when you see a week-old puppy frozen in place, or a sheepdog circling the children of the family, or all the other stereotypical breed behaviors,” Dr. Bell said. said.

Adding a new dog to your life is exciting, but it’s also a serious commitment. You need to meet your new pet’s physical and psychological needs throughout his life, not to mention training and socialization to ensure he’s properly equipped to interact with people and other dogs. While all dogs vary in their unique personalities, the fact remains that if the breed you choose doesn’t fit your lifestyle, the key behaviors that have defined that breed over generations can prove to be a struggle that leads to frustration, disappointment or an unhappy dog.

Does dog breed matter? Yes, for many reasons

“While each dog’s personalities will vary, just as human siblings will have different personalities, a dog’s behavioral tendencies will reflect their breed,” says Dr. Bell. “Prospective owners need to understand each breed’s expected behaviors and needs to determine if these fit their family and lifestyle.”

A suitable match is the key to a happy life for you and your pet. You don’t want to end up adopting an energetic athletic breed because they didn’t suit your laid-back, apartment-lounging lifestyle. “Choosing the wrong breed for your lifestyle can lead to frustration for you and your dog,” says Leigh. “If you’re a couch potato, then you don’t want to be associated with a high-energy dog ​​that wants a job – and if you like to hike and jog, then you don’t want a dog that prefer to sleep all day.”

So if different breeds have different temperaments and distinctive traits, how do you choose the right one for you? As part of the AKC’s mission to promote responsible dog ownership, we have always maintained that it is essential to research the different breeds of dogs that interest you. It helps a future puppy or dog owner narrow the field to choose breeds that are an overall good fit for your lifestyle, beyond breeds that have the physical traits you prefer or find the cutest. . You need to know what this breed needs in terms of space, exercise, mental stimulation, and grooming to ensure the dog you bring home matches your lifestyle.

However, choosing a particular breed does not mean that you will get an exact copy of every dog’s personality, rather you can understand the general tendencies of their breed, which can help you decide if that breed has the basic potential for suit you. , and this will also help guide the type of training the breed will need.

While there are no guarantees about your dog’s behavior, Dr. Klein believes that if people make informed, well-informed decisions, they can commit to caring for a dog for its entire life. “Understanding the breed standard and characteristics will help potential owners determine if a specific dog is likely to fit in well with their home, lifestyle, environment, time commitment and expectations,” he said.

Speaking specifically about acquiring a dog from a breeder on the Cog Dog Radio podcast, Dr. Hekman explains, “Your best way to have a dog that fits right into your home, no matter the breed, is to interact with the breeder who produces these dogs. You should [buy your puppy] from a breeder who knows their lines well, and you need to tell that breeder what your expectations of the dog are: what you want from the dog, what you can provide for the dog, which is a deciding factor for you. And you should find the kind of breeder who is willing to say, and happy to say, “That’s not the right dog for you,” if that’s true, and then you should listen to them.

“That’s the real message. And at that time, it doesn’t matter what race, because you will go to the [Belgian] Malinois breeder and they’ll say, “I don’t think this is the right dog for you if you don’t have time to walk it and you have a two-year-old crawling on the floor.”

How do you bring out the best behavior and personality in your dog?

You’ve probably heard of the “nature versus nurture” concept when it comes to dog behavior. A dog’s breed, grounded personality and behavioral traits are essentially ‘nature’, while socialization and training are ‘nurtured’. Leigh explains that socialization is the most important thing a person can do when bringing home a new puppy.

“Positive experiences as a young puppy stay with the dog for life and will help him grow into a more confident and balanced adult dog,” she says. “Genetics also definitely play a role. Some breeds are naturally more reserved and less trusting of strangers, and some are social butterflies who love everyone from day one. Yet, socialization helps all dogs adapt better to the people, animals, and situations they will encounter throughout life.

Another important way to bring out the best in your dog is to train him. For example, some breeds are highly motivated and easily aroused, but teaching impulse control and focus will help channel these qualities in a positive way. In other words, you can’t change the personality a dog is born with, but you can help bring out its best expression. Just as a naturally shy person can use tools to build confidence in public, you can give a shy dog ​​the tools to be more confident and confident.

“A slightly nervous and shy dog ​​may never be the life of the party, but through training, socialization and confidence building, you can make huge strides in helping your dog do almost any situation,” says Leigh.

Choosing the breed with the best personality to fit your lifestyle, and then socializing and training that dog, gives you the best opportunity to build a fulfilling and lasting relationship and bond with your dog. As Dr. Klein says, “Dog breeds have very distinct physical and personality traits, and it’s important for people to understand and become familiar with these traits. This is the best way to ensure the success of your relationship with any dog.

Dr. Hekman echoes this point and told the AKC that she agrees that the socialization of the dog itself plays a major role in how it expresses its personality. Not only should you choose a breeder who does a good job of socializing newborn puppies, but you should also continue this work once you bring your dog home. “But that’s not all, and you’ll definitely improve your chances of getting the right dog for you if you also think about what breed you’re bringing home,” she says.

News takes dog breed study over study itself

It is important for any dog ​​lover, dog lover, or especially new puppy researchers to note that the media coverage of the study published in Science is not the same as the study itself, and that A particular take from a news website is not necessarily the purpose or intent of the study. “I don’t think this document should be used to help you decide how to get your next puppy because that’s not what we tested,” Dr. Hekman said on the podcast.

She warned: “Be careful what you read. You may be reading what a reporter thinks of the newspaper rather than the newspaper itself. If you go to the page where the article is hosted, you will find a paragraph at the beginning of it – before what we the authors wrote – that is an editor’s take from the journal. It was not written by the [study] authors. This little paragraph ends by saying that you should not use breed to determine what type of dog you buy as a pet. the [study] the authors did not write this. I don’t want to speak for anyone but myself, but I don’t agree with that statement. And I have no power to have it removed.

Additional reporting by Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT, Courtney Campbell and Melissa Olund.

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