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Thread: Purebred for consistency in both appearance and temperament? are we sure?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia

    Default Purebred for consistency in both appearance and temperament? are we sure?

    Due to this forum recently updating things, i somehow got onto a page about breeding history info. And came across a statement, that we breed pedigree's for consistency in both appearance and temperament.
    Its a bold statement to make!

    I cant help thinking about all the old people you see, with doddery old dogs. That when you ask, you find out they are 3yrs old???? This nurture effect of sedate behaviors. Not due breeding, little formal trainer skill, just due to old fart rewarding sedate behaviours.

    I cant help thinking of 3 breeding pairs of genes, went into producing a pack of fox hounds over years of course which i lived with as a kid. Same gene pool, yet such different temperament pups! some would come on good, others would fail in their allotted task in life and be PTS. PTS for not behaving like a fox hound does. ie. different ergo 'wrong' temperament. So definite selection process going on there by my grandfather, who prided himself on his breeding skills. Even at 12yrs, i can remember thinking, if you are so good, how come, we still have to PTS pups, that are still being produced by your stock? (PTS - dont get distracted by this, farming country, in 70's, PTS was something you got on with on farms, and dont visit a vet for). Horrifying these days, i know.

    and i see:
    Son's 2 dogs: siblings of same parents, a litter apart. Amazingly different outcomes, from what was exactly the same line mix of dogs.
    Variables in pup rearing: 1st pup had undivided attention from owners, pre children. 2nd pup was raised with baby, ie little training time.
    So even when you have full siblings, you can get 2 entirely different temperament dogs due to the environment the dog lands in.

    And i remember meeting 5 Mals of my trainer. All from same working line stock. And of the 5, 1 was a couch potatoe.

    And my own experience of being faithful to a breed, ie. owning one pedigree GSD after another, after another, ditto for rotties.
    No two of these dogs has had the same temperament or nature.
    Each has come with its own drives, even from same lines.
    So how is this, breeding to have the same temperament?

    I guess and it is i believe a guess: that you can try to replicate a dog, by breeding same lines, but unless you put those dogs to the same nurture influences, you cannot obtain a replica? Yet this massive variable seems to be ignored on breeders websites.

    And even if you do get same gene pool, same litter, same sex, you will end up with 2 different natured dogs anyhow? No 2 dogs are alike.

    So perhaps we are talking instincts that breeds of dogs often have?
    Beagles bugger off
    Gaurd dogs will gob off
    Mastiff's will be stubborn

    I reckon i could agree with instincts of breeds come through breeding.
    I can definitely see appearances come through breeding.
    But im not so sure, temperament is sufficiently nature, for breeders to harness it, i think its more nurture: what environment the pups go to.

    Do you breed, and how successful is the temperament breeding? How is this tested?

    Are you a same breed of dog, 2nd dog in (or 3rd) owner. Have your two dogs of same breed been the same?

    Do you own siblings of same litter? are they the same?

  2. #2


    When I was looking for the dogs I now have and am going on with, There was consistency....Consistently poor nerve, Shy dogs with no "real" confidence. Lots were "happy" dogs. But thats not the same thing as the supreme confidence I was looking for and considered essential for the breed in a working role.

    I think I would be bored with dogs that were all the same. I do think you think you can successfully breed for mental traits.

    I find mine are very consistent in the traits selected for. But there are still huge variations in drive levels and personality. Traits and aspects of personality not actively selected for or against. There is huge variation in the combination of genes that will be expressed even in a single litter. Genes will recombine in new ways, maybe influenced by grandparents, or just that unique pairing .

    Breeders seldom have the same set of priorities in how a dogs personality is expressed, and how it expresses will vary depending on the environment. In the show ring, the dogs are selected for appearance or conformation..... but as long as the dog is happy to be there and accepting of that environment, the mental traits won't have much bearing. So the variety of mental traits isn't under the same sort of scrutiny. Those who value the specific MENTAL breed traits... are more often not represented in the show ring.

    If a breeder can live happily with the dogs he is using, and they fit into the homes he breeds for, I don't think the same importance on mental breed traits applies as the physical ones.

    I believe fixing mental traits must be done much more broadly than fixing physical traits anyway, because you run the risk of reducing the ability to respond successfully to a changing environment, if only certain responses are acceptable and this "might" contribute to things like OCD and anxiety.

    But yeah, I agree. I think consistency of temperament in pedigrees means some thing different to consistent breed temprament traits.
    Last edited by Strange fruit; 07-05-2015 at 10:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I think there are some studies of identical twins - raised apart that show interesting similarities in taste and temperament that aren't pure chance.

    So you do get mental similarities in breed. And you can select for them.

    I think in Bernie's story of the fox hounds... you can't put the same two dogs (or members of the same lines) together and expect different results (eg better temperaments).

    Even so - personality or temperament - involves environment as well as genes. And you will always get one or two "mutants" in a family. Even if they have the exact same family. That's why I think that you should look at what's in front of you and work with that rather than setting limits based on "breeding".

    That was the "Edwardians" and perhaps Hindu cultural mistake. That they could judge people by their breeding and position in life and they should never let anyone cross over the boundaries. You miss out on the serendipitous advantages that way.

    Also - dogs and humans will tend to live down or up to your expectations. Eg the doddery old (unfit?) dogs with the doddery old people. I know a few of those. My dog - on the other hand - despite going grey around the chops and eyes, will always be thought of as a puppy because (this is my guess) she was desexed at 8 weeks and so she just looks and often acts like a puppy. Especially if the other dog is MUCH bigger than her.

    So having said - parentage has a massive effect on both physical and mental characteristics... you can train against "breed instinct" eg the beagle's tendency to bugger off after the good smell. I've seen some beagles with perfect recall... and whippets too. And training can change the brain structure a bit. Ie neuroplasticity is not to be under estimated either.

    The trouble with what you're born with - is that it may be a life time of effort to maintain the good habits against your instinct (or brain wiring).

    Also that the instinct may manifest in different ways... eg with humans and addiction - what they can become addicted to may be more or less interfering with their ability to function. Eg an addiction to internet forums (oops) may be less harmful than addiction to brain frying drugs.

    With a border collie - OCD motion sensitive tendencies - can be harnessed in ways that are useful. Or ignored and the dog will go quietly nuts.

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