It is clear that one of the factors that differs between breeds of dogs is temperament (Hart
and Miller 1986, Hart and Hart 1986, Bradshaw et al 1996, Coppinger and Coppinger 1996,
Takeuchi and Mori 2006). However there is strong evidence that behavioural traits are more
associated with current use than with a breed’s historical purpose (Svartberg 2006). Social
and non-social fearfulness (resulting in aggression) can be rapidly altered in a few
generations under intense selection (Muphree 1969 referenced in Svartberg 2006).
A number of studies have been undertaken in the past decade that clearly question the
proposition that certain breeds are inherently more aggressive than others.
Temperament testing – Germany 2008
Schalke et al (2000a, 2000b) examined 415 dogs in compulsory, standardised
behaviour tests delivered by qualified and experienced veterinary behaviourists. 95%
of the dogs’ tests showed no indication of disturbed aggressive communication or
aggressive behaviour in inappropriate situations. No significant differences were
found between American Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman
Pinschers and Rottweilers. In a comparison study with 70 Golden Retrievers, no
significant difference was found between the Golden Retrievers and the restricted