SLU's knowledge bank

Breed differences in everyday behaviour of dogs

Last changed: 30 March 2020

The domestication of the dog and the ensuing breed creation has resulted in a plethora of dog breeds that differ not only in morphology but also in terms of behaviour. In addition, a majority of the dogs today are no longer utilized for their working ability, but are mainly kept as companion animals. The main aim of this study was to estimate breed differences in everyday behaviour traits, as well as to study the phenotypic correlations between these traits. Dog owners described their dogs' everyday behaviour in a questionnaire. The responses to the questions were combined into 18 behavioural subscale scores (BSS). After editing, the material included dog owner responses for 3591 dogs from 20 different breeds. The breeds represent both working and non-working breeds.

We can conclude that breed (and grouping into working vs non-working breeds), age and sex had significant effects on many everyday behaviour traits. The working breeds were about 10% more trainable, showed 30% more interest in playing with humans and were 10–60% less fearful. Furthermore, our results showed that fearful dogs were more aggressive, whereas more social dogs were less fearful and less aggressive. We also found that dogs that were more eager to play with humans were also easier to train.

Link to the article:


Helena Eken Asp, Willem Freddy Fikse, Katja Nilsson, Erling Strandberg. Breed differences in everyday behaviour of dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2015, 169:69-77. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2015.04.010