The behaviour test results of 1310 German shepherds and 797 Labrador retrievers, 450–600 days of age, were evaluated. The purpose was to investigate whether the behaviour tests, previously used at the Swedish Dog Training Centre, could be used to select dogs for different kinds of work and for breeding. Ten behavioural characteristics were scored based on the dogs' reactions in seven different test situations. All tests were conducted by one experienced person.
Marked differences in mental characteristics were found between breeds and sexes, but particularly between various categories of service dogs. Regardless of differences in the behaviour profiles of these service categories, there were marked similarities between different categories of service dogs compared with dogs found to be unsuitable for training as service dogs. To interpret the data, an index value was created, based on the test results for each individual dog, and was found to be an excellent instrument for selecting dogs for different types of work.
For both breeds the factor analysis resulted in four factors. In comparing the different characteristics, the same pattern was found in both breeds, with the exception of the characteristic prey drive, which seems to be irrelevant for Labrador retrievers. The conclusion is that a subjective evaluation of complex behaviour parameters can be used as a tool for selecting dogs suitable as service dogs. The results also show that the use and correct interpretation of behaviour tests can be enhanced by adjusting the results for each breed and planned service category.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Department of Zoology, University of Stockholm, S-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.|
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