When we think about breeding a health dog, we often think about the physical traits of the animal. Ensuring they are free from genetic disorders, have a strong immune system and show all the right physical characteristics of their breed. Responsible dog breeders will know the importance of ensuring their animals are physically healthy, but the best dog breeders go one step further to ensure the pups also display healthy temperament.
Temperament refers to the personality of the dog, whether it is happy or irritable, outgoing or shy, tolerant or snappy. There are certain qualities that people might want for a family dog that they wouldn’t want for a working dog, and vice versa. With the increase in designer mixed breeds, such as the puggle and the labradoodle, it has become all the more important to understand how this can impact the temperament.
What exactly is good temperament?
This is difficult to say, as working dogs will need a different temperament to a family dog, but as a general rule, the dog should have the following character traits:
- Happy and content disposition
- Laid back character
- Stable disposition
- Not prone to neurotic behaviour
- Not easily frightened
- Outgoing rather than shy
- Not aggressive
- Content around children
- Confident around strangers
- Not spooked by loud noises
- Submissive rather than dominant
When breeding for good temperament, it’s important to understand that different breeds will have different traits that can be complementary or problematic. Owners also have the responsibility to choose a breed that fits with their lifestyle, rather than trying to shape a dog’s temperament around their environment. An active breed like a spaniel or collie will be unhappy living in a busy city environment where they can’t get enough exercise.
Nature or Nurture
While choosing a good pair of dogs to breed from will be essential for ensuring good temperament, it isn’t an exact science. Two very friendly dogs are capable of breeding a snappy dog. Many people believe that the way the dog is raised is just as essential for ensuring good temperament. The first few days of the pups life are essential for ensuring a healthy temperament, while the first 12 weeks of their life are also pivotal.
How to raise pups with good temperament
Proper socialising in the early stages of a dog’s life is essential for raising friendly dogs. Introducing the puppies to a range of sights, smells and experiences will encourage them to be more laid-back and adaptable to new situations. While it is important for the puppy to get used to their new family, they should also be introduced to strangers in their own home, and while out and about. Invite friends to your home and also take your puppy out once the vet has told you it is safe to do so. Taking your puppy to a dog park is also a great way to socialise your new puppy, just make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.