Breeds vary behaviorally: in sociability, calmness, trainability, and boldness

This ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Tabasco is an example of how breeds vary behaviorally, in sociability, calmness, trainability, and boldness

A ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Tabasco [1]

Irish Setter126%109%111%89%
Gordon Setter123%104%108%96%
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel122%111%104%89%
Flat-Coated Retriever120%116%116%123%
Irish Wolfhound120%138%67%86%
Bearded Collie120%103%104%102%
Bernese Mountain Dog119%116%93%103%
Spanish Greyhound117%74%84%63%
Labrador Retriever117%112%108%115%
Shetland Sheepdog114%99%110%91%
German Pinscher113%56%109%93%
Coton de Tulear112%105%89%90%
Golden Retriever112%106%102%106%
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier111%96%104%104%
German Shorthaired Pointer111%106%117%123%
Airedale Terrier110%120%102%107%
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog109%96%105%94%
Small Munsterlander107%89%106%105%
Miniature Schnauzer107%113%105%90%
Saint Bernard107%110%78%110%
Chinese Shar-Pei107%101%79%76%
English Setter107%98%84%82%
French Bulldog106%117%91%112%
Shih Tzu105%116%90%109%
Dogue de Bordeaux105%118%80%96%
Old English Sheepdog105%101%101%114%
Rhodesian Ridgeback103%106%96%86%
Ibizan Hound103%75%97%81%
Australian Shepherd103%91%118%101%
Staffordshire Bull Terrier103%122%103%107%
Lhasa Apso102%114%73%91%
Shiba Inu101%96%103%79%
Pyrenean Shepherd100%89%110%80%
West Highland White Terrier100%97%95%103%
Welsh Terrier100%86%122%116%
Miniature Dachshund100%99%101%83%
Siberian Husky100%123%84%109%
Tibetan Terrier100%108%93%107%
English Cocker Spaniel100%88%105%102%
Cairn Terrier99%105%91%100%
Great Dane98%102%93%99%
German Spitz96%75%83%106%
Appenzeller Sennenhund96%71%107%90%
White Swiss Shepherd96%89%109%84%
Alaskan Malamute95%140%73%94%
Giant Schnauzer95%110%113%118%
Bavarian Mountain Hound95%99%103%103%
Yorkshire Terrier95%80%87%100%
Miniature Pinscher95%76%103%110%
Border Collie94%91%117%99%
Border Terrier94%106%106%114%
Doberman Pinscher93%78%105%101%
Bull Terrier93%89%85%116%
American Staffordshire Terrier92%116%104%108%
German Wirehaired Pointer89%116%115%113%
American Cocker Spaniel89%114%85%109%
Parson Russell Terrier88%88%115%113%
Entlebucher Mountain Dog88%90%117%112%
Miniature Poodle88%90%101%87%
Anatolian Shepherd Dog86%114%79%79%
Jack Russell Terrier85%84%107%112%
Polish Lowland Sheepdog84%79%119%96%
German Hunting Terrier84%69%100%120%
Wirehaired Dachshund84%103%104%108%
Standard Schnauzer84%83%112%105%
Irish Terrier83%111%102%115%
Belgian Malinois82%77%113%108%
German Shepherd Dog81%93%105%110%
Perro de Presa Canario76%72%93%99%
German Bracke60%95%98%82%


  1. Anthony, Michele. “Services.” Accessed 7 June 2017.
  2. Turcsán, Borbála, Enikő Kubinyi, and Ádám Miklósi. “Trainability and boldness traits differ between dog breed clusters based on conventional breed categories and genetic relatedness.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 132.1 (2011): 61-70. Appendix A. Supplementary data.

Dogs adapted to live with people

Dogs adapted to shiift their period of socialization to live with people.

(a) Dogs begin to explore the world around them at four weeks of age using sight, hearing, and smell. Later, all these senses show dogs when they’re safe. 

(b) Wolves begin to explore the world at two weeks of age using only smell. Later, only smell shows wolves when they’re safe, and much is novel and frightening.

Dogs adapted to socialize with people

While it is possible to tame a wolf, the process is much more intensive than that required to produce a tame dog. Wolves require twenty-four hours contact a day starting before three weeks of age… …around four weeks old… they begin to bite their sleeping human companions and thus co-sleeping with humans ends, but the pups still spend all their waking hours in the presence of people. This socialization process continues until the pups are four months old…

Dogs require as little as ninety minutes of contact with humans during their ‘critical period’ of socialization—one of the critical periods of development… —to form a social attachment…

The critical period for socialization begins with the ability to walk and explore the environment… The critical period of socialization closes with the avoidance of novelty, when an animal runs away from, rather than approaching and exploring, novel objects.

Wolves begin to walk and explore at two weeks of age… And wolves don’t show the avoidance of novelty—the true ‘‘onset of fear’’—until six weeks of age.

Dogs do not start to walk and explore until four weeks… …fear gradually increases… until around eight weeks when they will run away from a truly novel stimulus (a stimulus having no familiar characteristics).

Thus wolves and dogs both have a four-week critical period for socialization—wolves just go through it two weeks earlier than dogs do.

…dogs and wolves… developed the ability to see, hear, and smell at the same time. The consequence of this is that dogs began to explore the world around them at four weeks of age with the senses of sight, hearing, and smell available to them, while wolves began to explore the world at two weeks of age when they had the ability to smell but while functionally blind and deaf… This change in the interaction between the developing senses and the critical period for socialization means that dogs can generalize familiarity using all of their senses, while wolves must rely primarily on their sense of smell, making more things novel and frightening as adults.

Dogs adapted to forage near people

Dogs… no longer have to spend as much energy and ingenuity foraging. Rather than hunting prey, dogs can rely on human refuse, which is more predictably located and available year round. Foraging on garbage is a less complex behavior pattern than hunting and dog pups can forage even before they are entirely weaned. Thus, by the time they are ten weeks old they are perfectly capable of finding their own food…

Dogs adapted to populate near people

Dogs have lost seasonality of reproduction: in other words they do not reproduce solely at a particular time of year… Dogs also reach sexual maturity faster than wolves and can reproduce during their first year of life… Furthermore, dogs are polygamous, in contrast to wolves, which are generally monogomous… Thus dogs show no pair bonding and protection of a single mate, but rather have multiple mates in a year.

Wolves, and in fact all of the wild members of the genus Canis, display complex coordinated parental behaviors. Wolf pups are cared for primarily by their mother for their first three weeks of life… During this time she remains in the den with them while they rely on her milk for sustenance and her presence for protection from predators. Because of this she cannot spend much time away from them, and the father brings the mother food during this period. Once the pups come out of the den and have enough teeth to chew, the father, mother as well as some pups from previous years, begin to regurgitate food to the pups… Wolf pups become independent by five to eight months, although they often stay with their parents for years…

Dogs, on the other hand, show greatly reduced parental behavior. Pups are still cared for by the mother. They rely on her for milk and protection just like wolves. However, unlike wolves, the mother gets no help from any other dogs during this time. There is no paternal care, let alone help from older siblings. Once pups are weaned at around 10–11 weeks they are independent and receive no further maternal care…

Dogs adapted to love people

…dogs are canids that have come to occupy a new niche through natural selection.

The real differences between dog and wolf behavior lie at… basic levels: in the process of socialization, in foraging, and in reproduction.

The intertwined changes… are small but they have massive downstream effects. These indirect consequences include the fact that we have dogs resting at our feet and not wolves.

  1. Udell, Monique AR, et al. “A dog’s-eye view of canine cognition.” Domestic Dog Cognition and Behavior. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2014, pp. 221-240.

Bonding of shelter dogs to humans is very quick

A dog pushes his face through an opening in his cage and gazes intently, displaying the readiness for bonding of shelter dogs to humans.

Bonding of shelter dogs fills their deep need

Attachment is claimed to be the basic organizational factor for any species’s social structure leading to group formation.

Dogs have an unfolding pattern of socialization and some sensitive periods during development that are very similar to the same phenomena recognized in the human infant…

Dogs seem to show innate responsiveness to humans that is not influenced by feeding…, and even punishment does not extinguish the proximity seeking of pups to a handler… Moreover, puppies show social attraction to humans even if they were exclusively strictly disciplined during handling…

…under certain conditions such as the loss of the attachment figure (parent or owner), both dog and child may develop similar behavior disorders ranging from psychogenic epilepsy to asthma-like conditions, ulcerative colitis, anorexia nervosa, and so on…

Bonding of shelter dogs was achieved in adults, with simple activities, in a total of just 30 minutes

In this study, 60 shelter dogs (Canis familiaris) were observed…

Before testing, 40 dogs were handled 3 times for 10 min. Dogs were caught and taken from the yards by the respective handler. The handling was carried out on leash and consisted of talking to the dog, petting, doing very simple exercises such as making them sit down, walking together, or playing and fetching, depending on the willingness of the dog.

…dogs in the handled group exhibited more contact seeking with the entering “owner,” less physical contact with the unfamiliar person, less frequent following of the leaving unfamiliar person, and less standing by the door in the presence of the “owner.”

Although the ability to form attachments is usually associated with an early sensitive period, in this experiment we demonstrated that in certain conditions a short responsive interaction with an unfamiliar human individual may result in attachment behavior even in the case of dogs that are more than 1 year old.

Social animals in poor social conditions are remarkably ready for bonding

Our study shows that… dogs living in poor social conditions become more responsive to humans, which results in a remarkable readiness to form attachment relationships.

… in the case of rhesus monkeys, a similar effect has been shown because most abnormally socialized monkeys could be rehabilitated to a certain extent by appropriate exposure to conspecific [same-species] groups and individuals…[2]

  1. Pajer, Nicole. “Reasons dogs end up in shelters.”, Accessed on 9 Nov. 2016.
  2. Gácsi, Márta, et al. “Attachment Behavior of Adult Dogs (Canis familiaris) Living at Rescue Centers: Forming New Bonds.Journal of Comparative Psychology 115.4 (2001): 423-431.