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Temperament Tests

All of our puppies undergo a temperament test that allows us evaluate them and make predictions about their personality before they go to their forever homes.  Each test is scored on a scale from 1 to 6.

Social Attraction: degree of social attraction to people, confidence, or dependence.  Pack drive.

Following: willingness to follow a person.  Pack drive.

Restraint: degree of dominance or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations. Fight or Flight drive.

Social Dominance: degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person. Pack drive.

Elevation Dominance: degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control. Fight or Flight drive.

Retrieving: degree of willingness to do something for you.  Together with social attraction and following, a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.  Prey drive.

Touch Sensitivity: degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.

Sound Sensitivity: degree of sensitivity to sound (also a rudimentary test for deafness).  Prey drive.

Sight Sensitivity: degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.  Prey drive.

Stability: degree of startle response to a strange object.  Fight or Flight drive.

What to the test scores mean?

The scores are interpreted as follows:

Mostly 1’s –

Strong desire to be pack leader and is not shy about bucking for a promotion
Has a predisposition to be aggressive to people and other dogs and will bite
Should only be placed into a very experienced home where the dog will be trained and worked on a regular basis

Top Dog Tips: Stay away from the puppy with a lot of 1’s or 2’s.  It has lots of leadership aspirations and may be difficult to manage.  This puppy needs an experienced home.  Not good with children. 

Mostly 2’s –

Also has leadership aspirations
May be hard to manage and has the capacity to bite
Has lots of self-confidence
Should not be placed into an inexperienced home
Too unruly to be good with children and elderly people, or other animals
Needs strict schedule, loads of exercise and lots of training
Has the potential to be a great show dog with someone who understands dog behavior

Mostly 3’s     –

Can be a high-energy dog and may need lots of exercise
Good with people and other animals
Can be a bit of a handful to live with
Needs training, does very well at it and learns quickly
Great dog for second time owner.

Mostly 4’s     –

The kind of dog that makes the perfect pet
Best choice for the first time owner.
Rarely will buck for a promotion in the family
Easy to train, and rather quiet.
Good with elderly people, children, although may need protection from the children
Choose this pup, take it to obedience classes, and you’ll be the star, without having to do too much work!

Tidbits: The puppy with mostly 3’s and 4’s can be quite a handful, but should be good with children and does well with training.  Energy needs to be dispersed with plenty of exercise. 

Mostly 5’s     –

Fearful, shy and needs special handling
Will run away at the slightest stress in its life
Strange people, strange places, different floor or ground surfaces may upset it
Often afraid of loud noises and terrified of thunder storms. When you greet it upon your return, may submissively urinate.  Needs a very special home where the environment doesn’t change too much and where there are no children
Best for a quiet, elderly couple
If cornered and cannot get away, has a tendency to bite

Top Dog Tips: Avoid the puppy with several 6’s.  It is so independent it doesn’t need you or anyone.  He is his own person and unlikely to bond to you. 

Mostly 6’s     –

So independent that he doesn’t need you or other people
Doesn’t care if he is trained or not – he is his own person  Unlikely to bond to you, since he doesn’t need you.
A great guard dog for gas stations!
Do not take this puppy and think you can change him into a lovable bundle – you can’t, so leave well enough alone.


Few puppies will test with all 2’s or all 3’s – there will be a mixture of scores.

For that first time, wonderfully easy to train, potential star, look for a puppy that scores with mostly 4’s and 3’s.  Don’t worry about the score on Touch Sensitivity – you can compensate for that with the right training equipment.

Tidbits: It’s hard not to become emotional when picking a puppy – they are all so cute, soft and cuddly.  Remind yourself that this dog is going to be with you for 8 to 16 years.  Don’t hesitate to step back a little to contemplate your decision.  Sleep on it and review it in the light of day.

Avoid the puppy with a score of 1 on the Restraint and Elevation tests.  This puppy will be too much for the first time owner.

It’s a lot more fun to have a good dog, one that is easy to train, one you can live with and one you can be proud of, than one that is a constant struggle.