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Breed and sex differences in the behavioural attributes of specialist search dogs - a questionnaire survey of trainers and handlers

By N. J. Rooney, J. W. S. Bradshaw

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Abstract

The behavioural characteristics of specialist search dogs were examined using a survey of 244 dog handlers and trainers. The English Springer Spaniel was the most common breed, followed by the Labrador Retriever, cross breeds and the Border Collie. Individuals of these four breeds varied significantly on 5 out of 30 characteristics, as rated by their handlers, namely; tendency to be distracted when searching, agility, motivation to obtain food, independence, and stamina. English Springer Spaniels and Border Collies scored significantly closer to ideal levels than did Labrador Retrievers and cross breeds, for several of these characteristics. Overall satisfaction with the handler's own dog(s) did not differ between the four most common breeds and was also unaffected by the dog's sex. However, males and females did differ in their ratings for one characteristic; males were rated higher than females, which were rated closer to the ideal, for aggression towards other dogs. Overall, there appeared to be little difference between the sexes in their suitability for search work.

Date 2004
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 86
Issue 1/2
Pages 123-135
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2003.12.007
Language English
Author Address Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Anthrozoology Institute, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU, UK. nicola.rooney@bristol.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal genetics
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Breed differences
  5. Carnivores
  6. Crossbreds
  7. Dog Breeds
  8. Dogs
  9. Mammals
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. searching behavior
  13. sex differences
  14. training of animals
  15. United Kingdom
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  1. peer-reviewed