From ‘The Dog’s Mind’ by Bruce Fogle

In the U.S.A. in 1988 Drs Ben & Lynette Hart, behaviourists at the University of California, published a classification of dogs according to temperament rather than morphology or their original purpose.

Four general dispositions were identified:

Reactivity = excitability, general activity, snapping at children, excessive barking, demand for affection.

Aggression = territorial defence, watchdog barking, aggression with dogs, dominance over owner.

Trainability = obedience training, housebreaking ease.

Investigation = destructiveness, playfulness.

They then performed a cluster analysis assigning breeds of dogs and their behavioural profiles to specific groups.

Cluster 1high reactivity – low trainability – medium aggression.

 Lhasa Apso, Pomeranian, Maltese terrier, American cocker spaniel, Boston terrier,  Pekingese, Beagle,Yorkshire terrier, Weimaraner, Pug, Irish terrier

Cluster 2very low reactivity – very low aggression – low trainability.

 English bulldog, Old English sheepdog,  Norwegian elk hound, Bloodhound, Basset hound

Cluster 3 low reactivity – high aggression – low trainability

Samoyed, Alaskan malamute, Siberian husky, Saint Bernard, Afghan hound, Boxer, Dalmatian, Great Dane, Chow

Cluster 4very high trainability – high reactivity – medium aggression.

Shetland sheepdog, Shin Tzu,  Miniature poodle, Toy poodle,  Bichon Frise, Standard poodle, Springer spaniel, Welsh corgi

Cluster 5low aggression – high trainability – low reactivity

Labrador, Hungarian viszla, Brittany spaniel, German short haired pointer, Newfoundland, Chesapeake Bay retriever, Keeshound, Collie, Golden retriever,  Australian shepherd

Cluster 6very high aggression – very high trainability – very low reactivity

 German shepherd,  Akita,  Doberman,  Rottweiler

Cluster 7very high aggression – high reactivity – medium trainability.

Cairn terrier, West highland white terrier, Chihuahua, Fox terrier, Scottish terrier, Dachshund, Miniature schnauzer, Silky terrier, Airedale terrier

 Remember these are generalities based on American stock, low trainability doesn’t mean that it can’t be trained.

The value is in encouraging potential owners to look at the whole package not just appearance.


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