Do Different Breeds Have Different Temperaments?

Different breeds of dogs have been developed to perform specific tasks. For example: guarding, hunting and herding. Consequently, as well as developing a characteristic appearance, they have also developed variations in temperament.

  • Retrievers and Setters are inclined to be boisterous, but are essentially good-natured and easy to train.
  • Smaller spaniels (King Charles or English Toy Spaniel, and Cavalier King Charles) are very even tempered.
  • Beagles are rather playful and slow at learning, but most have an easy-going disposition.
  • Afghan Hounds, Saluki, Borzoi and Greyhounds often prove difficult to control, particularly if allowed off a lead.
  • Collies develop a strong loyalty to members of the family and are rather wary of strangers.
  • Border Collies have a strong herding instinct and, with nothing to occupy them, can become frustrated to the point of hysteria.
  • Whippet and Shetland Sheepdog are both very good with children and come in smaller sizes.
  • Bulldog is a placid breed but its habits of slobbering and snoring can be tiresome.
  • Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier are not to be trusted with strange dogs, which they will usually want to fight, though they are affectionate towards people, including children, and make very good family pets.
  • Smaller breeds are less easy-going, more defensive and inclined to be snappy with children. Corgis, in particular are this way and the tendency needs to be firmly curbed early in life.
  • Small terriers are tough, wiry and inquisitive, and certain breeds (e.g. Border Terrier and Boston Terrier) tolerate children much better than others (e.g. Scottish and Yorkshire Terriers).
  • Dachshunds and Chihuahua are inclined to bark a lot if unchecked an Chihuahuas in particular are likely to be bad-tempered with children and strangers.
  • The German Shepherd Dog is the most popular breed in the world and is an excellent working dog, but some individuals are very shy and apprehensive and become aggressive through fear.
  • Boxer is usually a friendly exuberant dog which remains playful for several years, though some animals develop unstable temperaments.
  • Doberman Pinscher and Rottweilers have forceful, dominant personalities, especially the German strains, and should always be well trained and strictly controlled.
  • Great Danes are like young colts, rather skittish and inclined to crash into things.

Regrettably, the temperament of many breeds has suffered through the years as a result of their breeding. Breed standards and breeders being tempted by easy money are two reasons for this. The breed standards have concentrated almost exclusively on the animals' appearance and paid little attention to temperament and breeders seeking easy money have bred from animals that were clearly physically or mentally unsound, in order to satisfy the enormous public demand for the currently 'fashionable' breeds.

All dogs in a particular breed are not created equally; however, and there are exceptions to every breed temperament guideline above. Temperament is not attributed to the breed alone. It can also be affected by the environment and training.


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