When this topic came across my desk to write for the DogBoy’s blog, I was very excited. This is a heavily discussed topic among professionals and the public alike, and it also frequently appears in the media.
Back in November, I was lucky enough to attend the Pet Professional Guild’s very first Force Free Summit. While I was there, I was able to attend a seminar presented by Ken McCort on this very subject. It was a fascinating seminar, and it left me feeling much more educated on how breed and behavior inform each other.
It also provided me with an answer to the question. The answer: Yes, and no.
Yes: How Dog Breeds & Behaviors Are Linked
Dog breeds were developed to help us utilize dogs to their best potential for specific tasks.
Take Dachshunds for example. We find their short stature and long body quite funny and cute. However, the breed was developed with the intention of hunting Badgers who live in burrows. The dog needed to be able to fit into small holes, get deep enough to get the badger, and be able to be pulled out by the tail by their master.
The short legs of a Dachshund provide it the ability to get into small, tight spaces, like a burrow. It’s long body gives it the ability to get deep into that small space, but still stick out far enough to be grabbed by the tail and yanked out. When you take into consideration it’s original job, that silly strange body is actually quite functional.
As far as behavior is concerned, these specific body types lend themselves to certain types of movements and behaviors.
Greyhounds, for example, are built specifically to run fast in very short bursts. They are not built to cool down well, or go long distances at high speed. Huskies, on the other hand, are specifically designed to go long distances at a brisk pace, and cool down very efficiently.
Other things tend to trickle down through breeding too. Most retriever type dogs, such as Goldens and Labradors, are very likely to put things in their mouth. Centuries of breeding for solid retrieval skills have created dogs who crave carrying things. Hound type dogs are inclined to sniffing and tracking. Herding type dogs are prone to nipping at heels, and attempting to gather groups in one spot.
So, to sum it up, your dog’s breed will predispose it to certain behaviors that are both specific to the way their body is built, and what they were developed to do.
What about the “No” part?
Just because your dog is predisposed to certain behaviors, doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed to show them. Their lines may be too diluted for the natural behaviors to make it through. It also doesn’t mean that all of your dog’s behavior can be explained away by it’s breed.
Reactivity in dogs many times is a result of their environmental factors, socialization training, and how their behaviors are being discouraged or reinforced. Blaming an unwanted behavior on the breed of a dog overlooks all of the other factors that contribute to the complex nature of dog behavior.
Nurturing Your Dog’s Behavior
Overall, it seems that dog behavior is the result of an intricate combination of both nature and nurture. So, the next time you hear someone complaining about a breed specific problem, remind them that the breed is only part of the equation.
down/stay by pato garza
waiting… by stephanie
greyhounds… by Chris