Vol. 3 No. 1 (2017)
Review Articles

Behavioural testing in dog puppies: a mini-review

Jara Gutiérrez Rufo
Dipartimento Scienze Veterinarie

Published 2017-05-09


  • puppy,
  • behavioral test,
  • working dog,


This review will focus on the behavioral study of puppies with the aim of determining their characteristics as suitable working dogs. In search of a standardisation, some examples of material and methodological aspects of behavioral testing in puppies have been also collected.

In puppy testing, some authors keen to follow their behavioral development by retesting the same animals at various periods of their lives or by attempting to predict what characteristics the dog will have in adulthood and what task it will be most suited to. Not surprisingly, given the variety of fields doing research on dog puppies, the studies varied widely in their aims.

These principal goals include selecting the right puppy for the right family, selecting dogs suitable as guide or therapy dogs, social skills, exploratory behavior, genetic influence on dog behavior, assessing the temperament of dogs in rescue shelters, measuring adaptive behavior.

Behavior of puppies changes rapidly, so when it is tested, it is not very likely to find a correspondence to adult behavior. It is important to test dogs later, when their behavior has matured and when changes per time are less, in order for the results to predict the adult phenotype. Individual variation in behavior observed among puppies can be explained both by hereditary factors and by effects of common litter environment. From this point of view, breeding programs aimed to improve behavior in dogs may not be based on information collected on tests performed as early as at eight weeks of age.