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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Genetic evaluation of temperament traits in the rough collie

Arvelius, Per; Grandinson, Katja Ulrika


Fear-related problems are common in the Swedish rough collie (RC). The aim of this study was to develop a genetic evaluation for temperament, based on the Swedish Dog Mentality Assessment (DMA - a field test used in large scale to characterize temperament traits in dogs), thereby facilitating more effective selection of breeding animals. Genetic analyses were performed on the individual DMA variables, and on five broader composite/personality traits. A traditional quantitative genetic evaluationwas used, which relies on using pedigree information and resemblance between relatives to estimate genetic (co)variances and breeding values. DMA data were available from 2,550 RC and the pedigree contained 42,523 dogs. Genetic parameters were estimated using a linear mixed model including fixed effects of sex, age, year and test month, and random effects of litter, judge, test site, breeding value of the individual dog and residual. Heritabilities ranged from 0.05- 0.31 e the higher values for the personality traits. Validation of the DMAwas done using the C-BARQ questionnaire. Owners of RC aged from 6 mo to 10 years were targeted and information about 1,766 dogs was generated (a reply rate of 50%). Of these, 935 had information from the DMA. There were high and significant genetic correlations between the personality traits measured in the DMA, and the everyday behavior of the dogs as described by the owners. For instance, sociability in DMA was positively correlated with stranger-directed interest (rg ¼ 0.87, SE ¼ 0.08), and negatively correlated with stranger-directed fear (rg ¼ 0.80, SE ¼ 0.09). Curiosity/fearlessness in DMA was negatively correlated with stranger-directed fear (rg ¼ 0.44, SE ¼ 0.14) and non-social fear (rg¼0.70, SE ¼ 0.10).We conclude that selection for temperament in rough collie, based on DMA data, is possible and could reduce the frequency of fearful dogs in the breed. As from March 2012, BLUP breeding values are available for Swedish RC breeders.

Published in

Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
2013, Volume: 8, number: 4, pages: e36-e37