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Dog Personality

 Reviewed 29 December 2018 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto
dog personality

Dog personality?? Dogs have a personality?

Oh yes, of course. Even dogs that aren't considered a personality. razz

For simplicity, let's go here with the popular yet flawed view that "temperament are inherited traits while personality is the sum of inherited and acquired traits".

I may say it's flawed because our page here clarifies inherited traits vs acquired traits, and thankfully that is disjunct: precise, clear, and consistent - like all definitions should be!

Anyway, let's go with what's popular.

What is Dog Personality?

Like people, all dogs have their own personality. To improve understanding, let's provide you with a definition:

Dog Personality is all the characteristics that shape dog behavior: the sum of all personality traits of a particular dog.

For example, whether or not you've had dogs, you must have noticed that:

  • some dogs are affectionate
  • others aloof
  • some dogs are aggressive
  • others anxious
  • some dogs are dominant
  • others compliant
  • some dogs are relaxed
  • others hyperactive
  • some dogs are playful
  • others protective
  • and on and on.


Each and all of that can be characteristics of a particular dog's personality.

dog personality

If you were able to identify all the characteristics that shape a particular dog's behavior, you would precisely know the dog personality of the individual dog, and you could reliably forecast the dog's behavior in the largest variety of environments and situations.

Since it's both impossible and impractical to identify all dog personality traits, it can be helpful to forecast dog behavior based on dog personality types only.

What Determines Dog Personality?

This is what defines and explains dog personality:

  1. dog breed
  2. socialization
  3. rest of upbringing
  4. and life experiences: for example owner change, shelter, abuse (and not only physical!), dog trauma?

1Note that only the first dog personality determining factor, dog breed, is explained by dog temperament.

2Also note that the other factors all are dog-individual: they have nothing to do with dog breed.

3Finally note that factors 2, 3, and 4 can change factor 1: the dog personality traits defined by dog breed, ie they can change dog temperament into the opposite or any other direction!

Hence why I always say:

Upbringing is everything!

And this is why breed laws are a flawed, wrong approach to address the issue of dangerous dogs and mauled children: The problem is not the dog breed ie dog temperament, but the dog's upbringing.



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