Can You Breed for Temperament?

Temperament and Personality are so closely related that they (probably) get confused by many. Temperament describing aspects of one's personality that you would be born with: shy, or outgoing. Personality refering more to behavioral choices and learned behavior as in one's reactions to outer stimuli: curious or frightened.

So, my question is: Can you breed for specific Temperament traits?

(note: I am not a breeder, possess absolutely zero knowledge about breeding, and only ask this out of curiousity because the thought presented itself to me. I would, however, truly appreciate the chance to learn about this through our forum breeders discussions, education, and experiences on the topic.)

@elbrant said in Can You Breed for Temperament?:

Temperament and Personality

Yes, you definitely can. Like physical characteristics, you can select parents with traits that you want to amplify. Of course, every pup in a litter will have a unique inheritance of genes and therefore may differ from siblings, but you can certainly increase the likelihood of the traits you are trying to pass on. Of course, environment will play its part in how temperament is expressed.

What's interesting is the relationship between temperament and physical characteristics. The Russian Fox experiments were eye opening in this regard. Breeding for friendly foxes resulted in physical changes, including ear carriage and coat colour.

last edited by eeeefarm

For sure you can breed temperament/personality.... however that said, how pups are raised by their breeder in those early days/weeks and how they are socialized before going to new homes and most important socialization after going to their forever homes is the most important key. And treating each pups as their own "person" and learning what works for them.....

Can you breed for temperament? Absolutely. That's been demonstrated with the fox project in Russia which turned foxes into proto-dogs. With 100% certainty? Absolutely not. More a tendency, with pups in the same litter having different basic dispositions. In some ways it's the same as breeding for specific physical characteristics, which is the usual case.

It's a bit of a moot question because breeders have traditionally breed for conformation, which may cut against a desirable temperament. (Note the temperament characteristics in the fox project resulted in physical characteristics, and this likely cuts the other way). One issue is that it's hard or impossible for buyers to judge temperament. I've been told that some puppy mill type breeders will tell customers that they'll pick a puppy with exactly the temperament they want -- at a few weeks of age! Right. LOL

Totally agree with Tanza that temperament is the starting but not the end point.

@elbrant
Goes back to the big debate of NATUE vs NUTURE!

Of course you can ! Selecting parents carefully is always essential, regardless if what you are trying to breed in (or out !).

But in the first 6 weeks of a pups life - SOCIALISING is the watchword. Breeders can reinforce the temperament attributes or lack of them by socialising the pups in the first few weeks. There is no substitute -

@donc - Not true that breeders traditionally breed for conformation only. Breeders (responsible breeders) breed for health, temperament and conformation. Health/temperament is at the top of the list. Breeders do of course look for certain conformation but that does not exclude Health & Temperament.

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