In this study, genetic and non-genetic effects on behavioural traits were estimated, based on records of the field behaviour test of the Swiss German Shepherd Dog breeding club. This standardized test has been applied since 1949 and comprised the following seven traits: self-confidence, nerve stability, temperament, hardness, sharpness, defence drive and fighting drive. The analyses were based on the test results of 3497 German Shepherds between 1978 and 2000. Gender, age, judge and kennel had significant effects on all behaviour traits. The heritabilities were calculated using three different methods and ranged between 0.09 and 0.24, with a standard error varying between 0.04 and 0.06. Phenotypic correlations among the traits lay between 0.28 and 0.94, the genetic correlations between 0.34 and 1.0. No significant correlations between hip dysplasia scores and the behavioural traits were found (-0.04 to 0.01). The modest genetic improvement over the last 25 years in the studbook population of the German Shepherd dog (GSD) was due to the low heritabilities of the behaviour traits but mainly because of the low selection intensities after the test (only 8% failed). Some recommendations were made to improve the test and selection response.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Division of Genetic Epidemiology, Institute of Animal Genetics, Nutrition and Housing, University of Berne, Bremgartenstrasse 109a, CH-3012 Berne, Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org|
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