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Behavioural testing for aggression in the domestic dog

By W. J. Netto, D. J. U. Planta

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The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Conservation and Fisheries has funded a study to develop an an aggression test for dogs, in order to select aggressive dogs and prevent them from breeding. On the basis of 2 pilot studies, a test was developed with 43 sub-tests in which a variety of stimuli were presented relating to contexts that are known to elicit aggression in dogs. In the final test, 112 dogs, 75 of which were potentially aggressive breeds (PAB) and a group of 37 control dogs, were tested. Questionnaires were used to collect information about the aggressive history of the dog. Dogs with and without biting history differed significantly in their biting/attack behaviour during the test. Two Models for Unacceptable Aggression (MUAs) are discussed, and the application of the model compared with the biting history of the dogs. The results of an MUA based exclusively on the biting/attack behaviour showed a significant relation with the biting history for all dogs and for the PAB-dogs. It is concluded that the test is useful for assessing aggressive tendencies in dogs, provided the test is performed by trained personnel.

Date 1997
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 52
Issue 3/4
Pages 243-263
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(96)01126-4
Language English
Author Address Department of Comparative Physiology, Subdepartment of Ethology and Socio-Ecology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 14, PO Box, 80086, 3508 TB, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Bites and stings
  5. Carnivores
  6. Dogs
  7. Mammals
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. testing
  1. peer-reviewed