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Conference abstract2013

Does the Swedish Armed Forces’ temperament test give information on genetic differences between dogs?

Arvelius, Per; Strandberg, Erling; Fikse, Freddy


With the purpose to select breeders and dogs for training, all German Shepherd dogs in the Swedish Armed Forces (SAF) breeding program go through a temperament test. During the test, the dog's behavioural responses are rated with two different methods. In a previous study, using PCA on the test items, five and three underlying behavioural dimensions from each rating method were defined. Three of the dimensions correlated significantly to training success. Using test results from 873 dogs, we estimated heritabilities of, and genetic correlations between, the 38 test items plus the eight underlying behavioural dimensions. Parameters were estimated using a linear animal model including fixed effects of sex, educational level, test age and interaction between test year and test arena, and random effect of litter, genetic effect of the individual and residual. Heritabilities ranged from 0.00 to 0.28 (SE=0.05- 0.10), which is similar to what has been reported in previous studies on traits defined and measured in a comparable way. Genetic correlations were high (rg=0.92-0.98, SE=0.08-0.12) between dimensions derived from each registration method and defined as confidence, engagement and aggressiveness, but relatively weak between these dimensions within registration method (rg=0.00-0.45, SE=0.29-0.41). Our results imply that the test measures three separate behavioural dimensions and that the SAF temperament test as a whole is possible to utilize for selection of dogs for breeding, but also that some test items should be measured differently to be meaningful for selection purposes. Furthermore, aggregating variables based on a PCA performed on phenotypic data might be sub-optimal when defining dimensions for breeding purposes.

Published in

Title: 8th International Working Dog Conference
Publisher: .


8th International Working Dog Conference