ArticlePDF Available

The performance of German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Malinois dogs in obedience, obstacle course, defense and tracking tests


Abstract and Figures

In Poland and other countries, the two breeds that are most commonly trained for police operations are the German Shepherd (GS) and the Belgian Shepherd Malinois (BSM). The purchase, training and maintenance of police dogs are very expensive. Appropriate preselection can lower those costs. Therefore, the aim of the study was to compare GS and BSM dogs based on their performance in obedience, obstacle, defense and tracking tests. The study was performed on 222 dogs which participated in patrol-tracking training, patrol training and tracking training at the Kennel of the Police Training Center in Sułkowice. In many exercises: stay in obedience, stair climbing, balance beam, wooden wall and an obstacle course in obstacle completion, pursuit with a muzzle, pursuit without a muzzle and guarding detainees in defense, as well as field search, indoor search and vocalization in tracking, BSM were scored significantly better than GS.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Abbrev.: Pol. J. Natur. Sc., Vol 32(3): 451–459, Y. 2017
Marlena Lipka, Janusz Strychalski, Agata Jastrzębska,
Andrzej Gugołek
Department of Fur-bearing Animal Breeding and Game Menagement
University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland
K e y w o r d s: police dogs, German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd Malinois, patrol-tracking dogs,
patrol dogs, tracking dogs.
In Poland and other countries, the two breeds that are most commonly trained for police
operations are the German Shepherd (GS) and the Belgian Shepherd Malinois (BSM). The purchase,
training and maintenance of police dogs are very expensive. Appropriate preselection can lower those
costs. Therefore, the aim of the study was to compare GS and BSM dogs based on their performance
in obedience, obstacle, defense and tracking tests. The study was performed on 222 dogs which
participated in patrol-tracking training, patrol training and tracking training at the Kennel of the
Police Training Center in Sułkowice. In many exercises: stay in obedience, stair climbing, balance
beam, wooden wall and an obstacle course in obstacle completion, pursuit with a muzzle, pursuit
without a muzzle and guarding detainees in defense, as well as field search, indoor search and
vocalization in tracking, BSM were scored significantly better than GS.
Marlena Lipka, Janusz Strychalski, Agata Jastrzębska, Andrzej Gugołek
Katedra Hodowli Zwierzat Futerkowych i Łowiectwa
Uniwersytet Warmińsko-Mazurski w Olsztynie, Polska
S ł o w a k l u c z o w e: psy policyjne, owczarek niemiecki, owczarek belgijski malinois, psy patrol-
owo-tropiące, psy patrolowe, psy tropiące.
Address: Janusz Strychalski, University of Warmia and Mazury, ul. Oczapowskiego 5, 10-718
Olsztyn, Poland, tel. +48 (89) 523 44 42, e-mail:
W Polsce i na świecie dwiema najczęściej szkolonymi rasami na psy patrolowo-tropiące, patrol-
owe i tropiące są owczarki niemieckie (GS) oraz owczarki belgijskie malinois (BSM). Zakup, szkolenie
oraz utrzymanie psów policyjnych jest bardzo drogie. Odpowiednia preselekcja zwierząt może obniżyć
te koszty. Celem pracy było porównanie GS i BSM oparte na wynikach zwierząt w testach
posłuszeństwa, pokonywaniu toru przeszkód, obronie i tropieniu. Badaniami objęto 222 psy, które
uczestniczyły w kursach na psa patrolowo-tropiącego, patrolowego lub tropiącego odbywających się
w Zakładzie Kynologii Policyjnej Centrum Szkolenia Policji w Sułkowicach. W wielu ćwiczeniach:
zostawanie w posłuszeństwie, schody, kładka, drewniana ściana i grupa przeszkód w pokonywaniu
przeszkód, pościg w kagańcu, pościg bez kagańca i konwojowanie osób w obronie, a także przes-
zukiwanie terenu, przeszukiwanie pomieszczeń i wokalizacja w tropieniu, BSM osiągnęły statystyc-
znie istotnie wyższe wyniki niż GS.
In the past, shepherd dogs assisted shepherds in managing a flockor a herd
of animals. Today, shepherd dogs are more often used as defense dogs and
military working dogs (COURREAU and LANGLOIS 2004). In Poland and other
countries, the two breeds that are most commonly trained as operational-
patrol dogs, patrol dogs and tracking dogs for police operations are the German
Shepherd (GS) and the Belgian Shepherd Malinois (BSM). This reflects, in
part, the overal trends in dog breeding in Poland (STRYCHALSKI and GUGOŁEK
2010).Dogs that are crosses between the two breeds or Dutch Shepherds are
far less frequently used in police work (SINN et al. 2010, WALASEK 2012). GS
and the BSM are easy to train, and they are widely available from breeders and
vendors. These breeds are also scent-trained to detect substances such as
narcotics and explosives. However, Labradors, Springer Spaniels, German
Shorthaired Pointers and other hunting breeds are increasingly used in scent
training (WARREN 2013, BRADSHAW 2015).
Dogs have to be properly and regularly trained for top performance. Patrol-
tracking dogs should be trained for both defense and scent detection (track-
ing). Patrol dogs and tracking dogs are trained for the same skills: patrol dogs
are trained for defense, and tracking dogs – for scent detection. They are also
trained for obedience and obstacle completion. The selection of dogs that are
best suited for training, the choice of handlers with the desired qualities and
proper training are essential for the effective performance of police dogs
(BRADSHAW 2015). The purchase, training and maintenance of police dogs are
very expensive. Appropriate preselection can lower those costs.Due to lack of
standardization in tests designed to evaluate dog behavior, scientific knowl-
edge about the behavioral differences between breeds and their predispositions
for specific tasks remains modest (GOODLOE and BORCHELT 1998, MURPHY
1998, DIEDERICH and GIFFROY 2006).
Marlena Lipka et al.452
In view of the above, the aim of the current study was to compare German
Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Malinoisdogs based on their performance in
obedience, obstacle course, defense and tracking tests.
Materials and Methods
The study was performed on 222 dogs, aged 1 to 2 years,which participated
in patrol-tracking training, patrol training and tracking training (Table 1).
The animals were qualified for training based on the results of tests carried out
by certified evaluators. Training courses were held at the Kennel of the Police
Training Center in Sułkowice in 2014 and 2015. All dogs were obtained from
breeders certified by the Polish Kennel Club (ZKwP), a member of Federation
Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the international federation of kennel clubs.
Table 1
Dogs which participated in patrol-tracking training, patrol training and tracking training
Specification Number of dogs
Patrol-tracking training 156 126 30
Patrol training 27 20 7
Tracking-training 39 33 6
Total 222 179 43
GS – German Shepherd; BSM – Belgian Shepherd Malinois
Dogs participating in all three courses were evaluated for obedience and
obstacle completion. Obedience tests involved the following exercises: heel-
work (the dog walks close to the handler’s leg), turns (the dog maintains its
position throughout the turn), stand (the dog maintains a standing position),
sit, down, stay (while the handler walks away), recall (the dog is recalled from
a stay position and sits by the handler’s left leg) and stop (while moving). The
obstacle completion test included the following exercises: stair climbing (open-
work stairs – Figure 1), balance beam (trapezoid), tunnel, wooden wall and an
obstacle course (various obstacles arranged in line). Dogs participating in
patrol-tracking training were also evaluated in defense and tracking catego-
ries. The defense test included the following exercises: pursuit with a muzzle,
pursuit without a muzzle, protecting the handler, guarding detainees, assist-
ing in identifying a suspect, assisting in frisking a suspect. The tracking test
included the following exercises: tracking human scent, field search (to locate
a person), indoor search (to locate a person) and vocalization (to indicate that
The performance ofgerman shepherd... 453
the searched person has been found). Dogs participating in patrol training did
not perform tracking exercises, whereas dogs participating in tracking training
did not perform defense exercises.
Fig. 1. Openwork stairs in the Police Training Center in Sułkowice
The animals were trained by the same persons. Tests were conducted
under standard conditions by certified examiners from the Kennel of the Police
Training Center in Sułkowice. Examination grades obtained by each dog were
entered into Training Progress Reports. Dogs were evaluated during each of
the 4 training stages. Mean scores were computed for each exercise, and the
results were used to determine mean scores for every training category. Dogs
were evaluated subjectively by examiners, on a scale of 2 to 5 points (2 points
– fail, 5 points – highest grade).
Data were expressed as means ±standard deviation (SD). The results
were processed statistically using the least squares method in the GLM
procedure. The results were compared with the use of the Y
model, where
is the overall average,
is the effect of breed,
the effect of sex,
is the interaction effect between breed and sex, and
is random error. Analyses did not reveal significant effects of sex or signifi-
cant interactions between fixed effects, therefore,the relevant data were not
presented. Calculations were performedin the Statistica (StatSoft, Inc. 2010)
Marlena Lipka et al.454
The results scored in obedience tests are presented in Table 2. It should be
noted that BSM received higher grades in all exercises, but significant differen-
ces between the two breeds were determined only in the “stay” exercise
(4.16 ±0.45 BSM vs. 3.96 ±0.50 GS, p= 0.019). BSM also scored higher in the
overall obedience rating, but significant differences were observed only at the
trend level (p= 0.053).
Table 2
Scores (pts) obtained by dogs from the discipline of obedience (mean ±SD)
Exercises P-value
Heelwork 3.82 ±0.51 3.91 ±0.52 0.298
Turns 3.70 ±0.52 3.82 ±0.52 0.174
Stand 3.73 ±0.57 3.91 ±0.53 0.054
Sit 4.07 ±0.51 4.22 ±0.49 0.091
Down 3.98 ±0.47 4.05 ±0.55 0.386
Stay 3.96 ±0.50 4.16 ±0.45 0.019
Recall 3.52 ±0.61 3.60 ±0.60 0.403
Stop 3.75 ±0.55 3.92 ±0.53 0.060
Total 3.82 ±0.41 3.95 ±0.39 0.053
SD – standard deviation; GS – German Shepherd; BSM – Belgian Shepherd Malinois
Significant differences between the evaluated breeds were noted in obstacle
completion (Table 3). Overall, GS scored 3.77 ±0.41 points, and BSM
4.00 ±0.36 points (p<0.001). The breeds differed significantly in the number
of points scored in stair climbing, balance beam, wall and obstacle course tests.
Similarities were noted only in the tunnel test, although BSM also scored
somewhat higher in this category.
Table 3
Scores (pts) obtained by dogs from the discipline of obstacle completion (mean ±SD)
Exercises P-value
Stair climbing 3.84 ±0.46 3.99 ±0.38 0.047
Balance beam 3.66 ±0.49 3.82 ±0.40 0.044
Tunnel 3.89 ±0.51 4.02 ±0.41 0.105
Wooden wall 3.60 ±0.57 4.00 ±0.47 <0.001
Obstacle course 3.88 ±0.53 4.20 ±0.51 <0.001
Total 3.77 ±0.41 4.00 ±0.36 <0.001
SD – standard deviation; GS – German Shepherd; BSM – Belgian Shepherd Malinois
The performance ofgerman shepherd... 455
The results of defense tests are presented in Table 4. Overall, BSM scored
4.01 ±0.37 points and GS 3.86 ±0.35 points, and the differences between the
breeds were statistically significant. BSM scored significantly higher in the
following trials: pursuit in a muzzle, pursuit without a muzzle, and guarding
detainees. At the trend level, BSM also scored somewhat higher in protecting
the handler (4.20 ±0.57 BSM vs. 4.01 ±0.61 GS, p= 0.096, statistical trend).
No significant differences between the analyzed breeds werenoted in the
suspect identification test (p= 0.614) or the frisking test (p= 0.209).
Table 4
Scores (pts) obtained by dogs from the discipline of defense (mean ±SD)
Exercises P-value
Pursuit with a muzzle 3.78 ±0.46 4.00 ±0.42 0.009
Pursuit without a muzzle 3.98 ±0.41 4.18 ±0.38 0.006
Protecting the handler 4.01 ±0.61 4.20 ±0.57 0.096
Guarding detainees 3.83 ±0.38 4.05 ±0.45 0.003
Assisting in identifying a suspect 3.81 ±0.47 3.86 ±0.52 0.614
Assisting in frisking a suspect 3.70 ±0.50 3.82 ±0.52 0.209
Total 3.86 ±0.35 4.01 ±0.37 0.021
SD – standard deviation; GS – German Shepherd; BSM – Belgian Shepherd Malinois
In the tracking category, BSM scored a total of 3.99 ±0.44 points, and GS
– only 3.76 ±0.47 points (p= 0.003). Both breeds obtained similar scores in
human scent tracking, whereas BSM scored significantly more points in field
search (4.15 ±0.49), indoor search (4.22 ±0.47) and vocalization (4.75 ±0.39)
than GS (3.89 ±0.51, 3.90 ±0.55 and 4.06 ±0.52, respectively).
Overall, GS did not outperform BSM in any of the evaluated categories
(obedience, obstacle completion, defense and tracking) or individual
Table 5
Scores (pts) obtained by dogs from the discipline of tracking (mean ±SD)
Exercises P-value
Tracking human scent 3.40 ±0.70 3.44 ±0.69 0.726
Field search 3.89 ±0.51 4.15 ±0.49 0.002
Indoor search 3.90 ±0.55 4.22 ±0.47 0.002
Vocalization 4.06 ±0.52 4.75 ±0.39 0.006
Total 3.76 ±0.47 3.99 ±0.44 0.003
SD – standard deviation; GS – German Shepherd; BSM – Belgian Shepherd Malinois
Marlena Lipka et al.456
Discussion and Conclusions
Empirical research targeting the behavioral characteristics of dog breeds is
generally scarce because comprehensive statistical data are difficult and costly
to collect (WEISS and GREENBERG 1997, MEHRKAM and WYNNE 2014, STRYCHAL-
SKIET al. 2015). For this reason, most studies comparing the trainability of
various dog breeds rely on surveys and other indirect assessment methods
´et al. 2013). The results of our study
clearly indicate that BSM are more suited for police work as patrol-tracking
dogs, patrol dogs and tracking dogs than GS. BSM scored higher in all
evaluated categories.
In a study by GARDIA
´et al. (2013) who analyzed the results of FCI-IPO
world championships, BSM also outperformed GS. BSM scored a higher
number of points in each evaluated category (obedience, defense and scent
tracking). BSM were more gifted than GS, and the greatest differences
between the two breeds were reported in obedience and defense categories. In
the evaluated years, BSM significantly outperformed GS in the tracking
category only in 2003. The IPO disciplines are similar to police training
categories, but police dogs are additionally required to complete an obstacle
course. Our study revealed that BSM scored highly significantly more points
than GS in obstacle and tracking tests, and significantly more points than GS
in defense tests. Significant differences in obedience scores were not noted
between the analyzed breeds.
According to GARDIA
´et al. (2013), GS respond better toa change of
handler and are more focused on the performed tasks. GS are widely trained
for outdoor activities, services and home tasks. However, BSM are more
enthusiastic workers. They are more active in training, they work harder and
learn faster than GS, which is why they are the preferred breed for sports
training. Therefore, it can be assumed that test scores are largely determined
by BSM’s willingness to work. This trait cannot be measured directly, but our
experience with dogs suggests that BSM are much more willing to work than
GS. However, for a new handler, GS is usually a better choice than BSM
because it has better habits and a more balanced character (GARDIA
´et al.
Dog breeds differ not only in appearance, but also in working intelligence
and trainability (ROONEY and BRADSHAW 2004). COREN (1994) has developed
the most comprehensive scale for ranking breeds by trainability. In Coren’s
scale, GS rank third, whereas BSM occupy a distant 22
position. GS score top
grades in the first category, and BSM score lowgrades in the second category.
These results indicate that GS are able to comprehend a new command already
after several repetitions (1 to 4), and that they perform a task at first command
The performance ofgerman shepherd... 457
in more than 95% of cases. According to Coren, BSM understand the meaning
of the command after 5 to 15 repetitions, and correctly perform the task at first
command in 85% of cases. Coren’s methodologyhas been debated (COPPINGER
and COPPINGER 2001), but most researchers agree with the ranking positions
occupied by individual breeds (DAVIS and CHEEKE 1998, MIKLÓSI 2009,
STRYCHALSKI et al. 2015). However, Coren’s ranking was first published 20
years ago, and the positions occupied by GS and BSM should be revised due to
evolutionary changes in different breeds and modern training techniques. This
observation is confirmed by the results of the present study. It should also be
noted that the number of GS used by border guards and customs officers in
Germany, the breed’s country of origin, decreased by 70% in just one decade
(GERRITSEN and HAAK 2007).
The results of this study and published data do not indicate that GS is no
longer suitable for police work. According to many authors, GS is a highly
desirable breed for less experienced dog handlers (GERRITSEN and HAAK 2007,
SINN et al. 2010, ALLSOPP 2012, GARDIA
´et al. 2013). Beginners quickly
achieve the desired results, even when they make more training mistakes than
their more experience colleagues. BSM can score higher in tests if they are
handled by more experienced police officers. BSM are more eager to work and
are more impulsive than GS, therefore, more experienced handlers and longer
training are needed to control them. BSM seem to be better suited for police
work if placed under the care of appropriate handlers.
Summarizing results obtained in our study, BSM outperformed GS in
obedience, obstacle, defense and tracking tests.
Accepted for print 2017
ALLSOPP N. 2012. K9 Cops. Police dogs of the world. Big Sky Publishing, Australia.
BRADSHAW J. 2015. The dual purpose k9 vs. single purpose k9 debate. The Journal, spring: 41–44.
COREN S. 1994. The intelligence of dogs. Headline Book Publishing, London.
COPPINGER R., COPPINGER L. 2001. Dogs: a new understanding of canine origin, behavior and evolution.
The University of Chicago Press.
COURREAU J.F., LANGLOIS B. 2004. Genetic parameters and environmental effects which characterise the
defence ability of the Belgian shepherd dog. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 91: 233–245.
DAVIS S.L., CHEEKE P.R. 1998. Do domestic animals have minds and the ability to think? A provisional
sample of opinions on the question. Journal of Animal Science, 76(8): 2072–2079.
DIEDERICH C., GIFFROY J.M. 2006. Behavioural testing in dogs. A review of methodology in search for
standardisation. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 97: 51–72.
´L. 2013. Tracking, obedience and defense between
Belgian Shepherd Malinois and German Shepherd Dog. Journal of Life Sciences, 7(1): 89–91.
GERRITSEN R., HAAK R. 2007. K9 working breeds. Characteristics and Capabilities. Detselig Enter-
prises Ltd, Canada.
Marlena Lipka et al.458
GOODLOE L.P., BORCHELT P.L. 1998. Companion dog temperament traits. Journal of Applied Animal
Welfare Science, 1(4), 303–338.
HELTON W.S. 2010. Does perceived trainability of dog (Canis lupus familiaris) breeds reflect differences
in learning or differences in physical ability? Behavioural Processes, 83: 315–323.
MEHRKAM L.R., WYNNE C.D.L. 2014. Behavioral differences among breeds of domestic dogs (Canis
lupus familiaris). Current status of the science. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 155: 12–27.
MIKLÓSI A. 2009. Dog: behavior, evolution, and cognition. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
MURPHY J. A. 1998. Describing categories of temperament in potential guide dogs for the blind.Applied
Animal Behaviour Science, 58: 163–178.
ROONEY N.J., BRADSHAW J.W.S. 2004. Breed and sex differences in the behavioural attributes of
specialist search dogs – a questionnaire survey of trainers and handlers. Applied Animal Behaviour
Science, 86: 123–135.
SINN D.L., GOSLING S.D., HILLIARD S. 2010. Personality and performance in military working dogs.
Reliability and predictive validity of behavioral tests. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 127(1):
StatSoftInc. 2010. STATISTICA (Data Analysis Software System), version 9.1. (
STRYCHALSKI J., GUGOŁEK A. 2010. The analysis of trends in purebred dog breeding in 2000–2010 – data
from the National Purebred Dog Shows organized by the Polish Kennel Club, Branch in Olsztyn.
Roczniki Naukowe Polskiego Towarzystwa Zootechnicznego, 6(4): 91–101.
STRYCHALSKI J., GUGOŁEK A., KONSTANTYNOWICZ M. 2015. Clicker training efficiency in shaping the
desired behaviour in the following dog breeds. Boxer, Chow Chow and Yorkshire Terrier. Polish
Journal of Natural Sciences, 30(3): 235–243.
WALASEK A. 2012. ON kontra OBM. Kwartalnik Policyjny, 3: 36–39.
WARREN C. 2013. What the dog knows: scent, science and the amazing ways dogs perceive the world.
Touchstone, United States of America.
WEISS E., GREENBERG G. 1997. Service dog selection tests. Effectiveness for dogs from animal shelters.
Applied Animal Behavior Science, 53: 297–308.
The performance ofgerman shepherd... 459
... The training of scent detection dogs is financially demanding. As a consequence, it is important to know which criteria to apply when selecting a suitable dog for this type of work (Lipka et al., 2017). One of the most important criteria is the dog breed. ...
... Malinois scored significantly higher in the categories of obedience and defence, with no significance difference noted between the breeds for tracking human odour. In a similar vein, the second study by Lipka et al. (2017) found that Malinois scored higher for obstacles, defence and searching for people in the field or indoors, with no significant difference detected between the two breeds for tracking human odour. Although neither of these studies directly examined the work of detection dogs, based on their results, it can be assumed that the detection capabilities of Malinois and German Shepherds are comparable. ...
... In the obedience tests Malinois showed higher score by 4.1%, however both breeds exceeded the 80% mark, and this difference could be considered as unimportant. These findings are partly consistent with previous studies, which point to a better performance for the Malinois in terms of obedience and defence, but not in the human scent tracking (Gardiánová et al., 2013;Lipka et al., 2017). In the latter discipline, both breeds achieved similar scores, with the differences not being statistically significant (Gardiánová et al., 2013;Lipka et al., 2017). ...
Due to the high costs of training and maintaining these dogs, it is necessary to preselect suitable individuals for this purpose. One of the selection criteria is the dog breed. Unfortunately, there is a lack of studies that compare dog breeds for their suitability as detection dogs. Until the recent past, German Shepherds were widely used by police, army and customs services around the world. However, over the last few decades, Belgian Shepherd Malinois have become more popular in terms of service cynology. The aim of our study was to compare the two most common working dog breeds, namely the German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd Malinois (Malinois). The prediction was made that Malinois would not outperform German Shepherds. For this purpose, we evaluated the results of customs dogs (539 German Shepherds and 177 Malinois) currently undergoing their certification process against data from a 10-year database. The certification process consists of two sets of tests: scent detection and obedience. Every scent detection dog was required to search for specific target scents (drugs, banknotes and tobacco) in six training areas that imitated real workplaces. The obedience test consisted of ten tasks, which the dog had to perform (e.g. recall, heelwork, changes of position at the handler’s leg). The evaluation of the scent detection and obedience tests was done by certified judges. The data were analysed using PROC GLIMMIX in SAS software (version 9.4). The results of the scent tests did not reveal a significant difference between the breeds (P = 0.31) For the obedience test, the scores were higher in Malinois (84%) compared to German Shepherds (80%), with P < 0.01. The age and sex of the dogs did not significantly affect their evaluation in both tests. Our results showed that although Malinois do not outperform German Shepherds in the special discipline - the detection of specific target scents - both breeds are suitable for this purpose.
... Dog owners have to develop non-verbal communication skills to establish interspecies relationships that are based on partnership. These skills are essential for training dogs for a variety of working roles, including hunting, therapy, cynological sports (obedience, agility, dog frisbee, etc.), defense, military, as well as in daily obedience training (Rugaas, 1997;Dennison, 2007;Lipka et al., 2017). ...
... Terriers are renowned for their bravery and cleverness. In turn, companion and toy dogs (group IX) are expected to spend a lot of time with people without bothering them (Palika, 2007;Strychalski et al., 2015;Lipka et al., 2017). In this study, the owners of these dog breeds did not recognize signs of joy in the photographs (Table 5), but this observation is difficult to explain. ...
Full-text available
In many Western countries, castration is the most popular surgical desexing procedure in dogs. The aim of the study was to identify the reasons for male dog castration and to determine the owners’ perceptions about changes in dog behavior before and after castration. An online survey was posted on social networking sites dedicated to dogs. A total of 386 respondents participated in the survey. The main reason (39%) for castration was undesirable behavior, including hyperactivity (8%), roaming (8%), mounting (7%), aggression (5%), marking (5%) and others (5%). This surgery did not change the prevalence of aggressive behaviors towards people, but it reduced aggressive behaviors towards dogs and other animals. Castration did not reduce the presentation of anxious behavior in fearful dogs. Castration increased the number of dogs that were fearful of unfamiliar dogs/humans, as well as dogs with sound phobias, while decreased the prevalence of hiding behavior. This procedure greatly decreased incidences of roaming, mounting and urine marking as well as the dog’s overall activity. Thus, it can be concluded that while castration can resolve many undesirable behaviors in male dogs, the arguments for and against neutering should always be considered on an individual basis.
Full-text available
Works comparing the trainability of dog breeds mainly comprised indirect assessment methods; however, little empirical research has targeted the behavioural characteristics of breeds. The goal of this paper was to study the reaction of Boxer, Chow Chow and Yorkshire Terrier breeds to the shaping method with the use of the clicker in acquiring the desired behaviour. The dogs' task was to pass by the first (proximal) and second (distal) cones counter-clockwise. Initially, Boxers coped worst. However, after achieving the first success, achieving two consecutive successes was relatively easy for them. Chow Chows were relatively successful initially, but to repeat the success twice they required a much higher number of sessions with the clicker than the remaining two breeds. The results achieved by this breed show that, contrary to the opinion of many dog coaches, it is possible to successfully train Chow Chows. © 2015, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. All rights reserved.
The main aim of this book is to provide a basis for a complete dog behavioural biology based on concepts derived from contemporary ethology. Thus, dog behaviour is viewed from both functional (evolution and ecology) and mechanistic and developmental points of view. The study of dogs is placed in a comparative context which involves comparison with their ancestors (wolves), as well as with humans with which dogs share their present environment. Instead of advocating a single theory which would explain the emergence of dogs during the last 20,000 years of human evolution, this book gives an overview of present knowledge which has been collected by scientists from various fields. It aims to find novel ways to increase our understanding of this complex evolutionary process by combining different methods originating from different scientific disciplines. This is facilitated by describing complementing knowledge provided by various field of science, including zooarchaeology, cognitive and comparative ethology, human-animal interaction, behaviour genetics, behavioural physiology and development, and behavioural ecology. This interdisciplinary approach to the study of dogs deepens our biological understanding of dog behaviour, but also utilizes this knowledge to reveal secrets to behavioural evolution in general, even with special reference to the human species.
Quantification and description of individual differences in behavior, or personality differences, is now well-established in the working dog literature. What is less well-known is the predictive relationship between particular dog behavioral traits (if any) and important working outcomes. Here we evaluate the validity of a dog behavioral test instrument given to military working dogs (MWDs) from the 341st Training Squadron, USA Department of Defense (DoD); the test instrument has been used historically to select dogs to be trained for deployment. A 15-item instrument was applied on three separate occasions prior to training in patrol and detection tasks, after which dogs were given patrol-only, detection-only, or dual-certification status. On average, inter-rater reliability for all 15 items was high (mean=0.77), but within this overall pattern, some behavioral items showed lower inter-rater reliability at some time points (0.50) across shorter test intervals, but decreased with increasing test interval (
Assistance dogs are trained to help people with various physical and mental handicaps. These dogs are selected using a test comprising several behavioral components. Anecdotal reports have shown that only about 50% of the dogs so selected successfully complete training and become assistance dogs. Traditionally training centers had used puppies, but recently some trainers have begun to use dogs from animal shelters and pounds. This study randomly chose six males and three female adult dogs of appropriate breed types, from a shelter environment and conducted an 11-item selection test on each. The dogs were then trained in both basic obedience and a retrieval task. We found no correlation between an animals' overall performance on the selection test and its ability to complete the retrieval task. One behavior trait, fear/submission, however, was predictable from the selection phase.
Trainers at the Royal Guide Dogs Associations of Australia (RGDAA) assess 12-month-old potential guide dogs for 20 categories of temperament after walking and observing each dog over 5 days in increasingly complex environments. The present study investigated how trainers interpret these temperament categories from the canine behaviour observed. Dogs were videotaped by the author on their final assessment walk. Trainers who had no prior knowledge of the dogs on the videotapes observed the tapes and pointed out segments which, in their opinion, showed dogs expressing particular categories of temperament. One hundred and two segments of tape were isolated and examined in detail. The elements of behaviour observed in each segment were noted. Descriptions or `indicator sets' were determined for nine temperament categories. Each set lists the elements of behaviour shown by dogs in 60%–69%, 70%–79% and ≥80% of cases. Indicator sets were not determined for categories that were rarely identified by trainers, rarely observed in dogs, or which could not be assessed from a single videotaped walk. Although each indicator set was unique, some elements of behaviour were common to more than one set. Therefore, it is best to interpret temperament categories from many elements of behaviour rather than just one or two. If adopted by other guide dog associations, the indicator sets derived from this study may be useful in standardising the identification and assessment of temperament categories of potential guide dogs by avoiding anthropomorphism or misinterpretation of dogs' behaviour.
The behavioural characteristics of specialist search dogs were examined using a survey of 244 dog handlers and trainers. The English Springer Spaniel was the most common breed, followed by the Labrador Retriever, cross breeds and the Border Collie. Individuals of these four breeds varied significantly on 5 out of 30 characteristics, as rated by their handlers, namely; tendency to be distracted when searching, agility, motivation to obtain food, independence, and stamina. English Springer Spaniels and Border Collies scored significantly closer to ideal levels than did Labrador Retrievers and cross breeds, for several of these characteristics. Overall satisfaction with the handler’s own dog(s) did not differ between the four most common breeds and was also unaffected by the dog’s sex. However, males and females did differ in their ratings for one characteristic; males were rated higher than females, which were rated closer to the ideal, for aggression towards other dogs. Overall, there appeared to be little difference between the sexes in their suitability for search work.
As a consequence of their living close to humans as pets, for working purposes or as laboratory animals, dogs give evidence of behavioural variability, stemming from their innate capacities as well as from environmental influences. This paper reviews the behavioural tests used for dogs—tests which serve as an evaluation tool and those which serve as a means of classifying individual animals. In search of a consensus and standardisation, some material and methodological aspects of behavioural testing in dogs were collected. Behavioural test parameters that were taken into account were the terminology of the temperament concept, the test quality requirements and their implementation in the literature, the characteristics of the dog tested (source, breed, age, sex), the characteristics of the social and environmental stimuli used to elicit canine behaviour, the characteristics of the behavioural variables collected and the characteristics of the physical and physiological concomitant data obtained while assessing the behaviour. This review brings to light a lack of consensus regarding all these parameters. The procedures of testing are often particular to the investigator and thus unique. We emphasised this statement by comparing six research studies using a ball, carried out over 40 years. In view of all these differences in methodology, standardisation is suggested through the creation of a reference manual.
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the heritability of defence capacity traits in the Belgian shepherd dog and to calculate the genetic correlations between traits and the role of particular environmental factors. The study used 15,772 competition results from defence dogs involving 2427 Belgian shepherd dogs in France from 1986 to 1996. A competition included 6–19 different tests and according to their difficulty five levels. The tests were grouped together in order to class the dogs in eight general ability measures: Jumping, Following at heel, Fetching an object, Attacking, Guarding, Obedience, Biting and Global success. The analysis was performed on the calculated scores after the dogs had been ranked within a competition. The scores were corrected according to the average level of the dogs participating in the competition. This method is used in horses, the “performance rate”. This was used to produce scores, which had a normal distribution. The genetic parameters were estimated using a mixed animal model using the Restricted Maximum Likelihood method (REML). The fixed effects of the model were estimated by the Best Linear Unbiased Estimation (BLUE) and their significance by an F-test. The heritability estimates are low for Following at heel (h2 = 0.07) and Global success (h2 = 0.07) but moderate for the other criteria (h2 = 0.13–0.18). The repeatability of results was relatively high (r = 0.39–0.59). The phenotypic correlations between abilities were low to moderate, however, the genetic correlations were moderate to high, except for Jumping which appears to be independent from the other abilities. The males performed better than the females. The Malinois was the best variety of dog. The effect of age was studied within each level of competition difficulty. The best results were obtained as early as 1.5 years-of-age for level 1 and between 3 and 7 years-of-age for levels 4 and 5.