top of page

Puppy Temperament and Personality Tests

For many years I have been asked what type of Puppy testing I do, there are different types of puppy testings , there is a lot of different tests , the Volhart being the most popular. Think of puppy temperament testing as a canine crystal ball used to identify your puppy’s personality to predict—and so manage—potential future problems. Temperament tests can measure a puppy’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness.

Every pup in a litter is different, and where you find your puppy also impacts behavior. Figuring out a puppy’s potential helps to match it to the best owner—and helps owners pick the perfect match. There are ranges of behaviors, of course, and some pups may be more or less shy or outgoing. But if the pup shows unprovoked aggression, panics and cannot overcome this, or exhibits strong avoidance, then that is a pup that may need more rehabilitation work or socialization than most owners are able to provide.

Kinds Of Tests

There is no one-size-fits-all test. Some tests are used by breeders to assess Schutzhund performance or tracking ability. Shelters use temperament tests to measure general temperament and suitability for adoption. Others may test dogs for their therapy or assistance dog potential. Most also test for aggression.

Ask your breeder or shelter what temperament tests, if any, have been performed and the result. They may use these tests to help choose a puppy for you based on what you are looking for, your experience with dogs, and the type of home environment you are able to provide. For instance, an experienced dog owner would do better handling a pushy puppy, and a fenced yard might be required for a “nosy” breed obsessed with running off after scents.

Tests Are Not Perfect

Personality and temperament are not set in stone at birth. Early experience, socialization, development, and the consequences of learning all impact your puppy’s future behavior.

Resistance to handling, possessive aggression, territorial vocalization, excessive reactivity, and many forms of fear might not emerge until the dog is older. Shelter pups (especially older ones) you may test can display fearfulness or aggression in the shelter, but then, behave very differently once out of the stress of an overwhelming environment.

You can start testing puppies as early as 7 weeks old, but, if you can test puppies as late as possible—at 3 to 4 months—your tests may be more accurate. A good thing with these tests is that if you can recognize the potential for negative behaviors from assessment indicators, then you can diminish or negate these behaviors with interventions such as socialization and proper training.

Five Puppy Assessment Tests

You can perform these simple puppy assessments for puppies over age 7 weeks, they are used as guidelines, but are not 100% assertive

  • Test No. 1 for independent-mindedness: Cradle the puppy on its back like a baby, place a hand gently on its chest and look directly in its eyes. Pups that accept this handling are considered biddable, while those that resist are more likely to be independent-minded.

  • Test No. 2 for independent-mindedness: Hold pup suspended under its armpits with hind legs dangling, while looking directly in its eyes. Those pups that submit are said to have a low score for willfulness, while those that struggle may want to do things their own way.

  • Noise sensitivity test: Drop keys or a tin pan to test the dog for noise sensitivity. Sound sensitivity in puppies is a strong emotional or physical response to a sudden or loud sound within the environment. You want the dog to react and acknowledge that the sound occurred, but the puppy should not be cowering or apparently losing its mind.

  • People-friendly test: See how pup reacts to a stranger entering the room—or to being left alone in the room. Does the puppy run and greet or cower and cry? You want a puppy to be fully socialized with people by 3 months of age.

One more test that is helpful for assessing older puppies can go a long way to help you ascertain whether a dog is more independent, prone to attachment issues and separation anxiety, or more calm and easy going.

Place the individual puppy with his breeder (or shelter worker) in a room with new toys, and see how the pup reacts when the person leaves. Pups usually fall into three broad categories:

  • Independent: The puppy could not care less when the person left or came back. This may indicate a tendency toward more independent, willful behavior, or improper bonding.

  • Super needy: The dog whined and ignored toys when the person left and clung to the person when present. This may suggest over attachment issues that can be predictive of future separation anxiety.

  • Middle of the road: The pup paid attention to the person coming and going, but was not traumatized and enjoyed the toys. This suggests a healthy attachment and easygoing personality without the need of either firmness or coddling.


The tests are as follows: 1. Social Attraction - degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence. ( i I have seen this totally change when the puppy is exposed to a new environment with different stimulation and different activities) 2. Following - willingness to follow a person. (Put food in your pockets and you will have a forever shadow who learns to love to follow you, because he realizes there is more reward in it) 3. Restraint - degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations. 4. Social Dominance - degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person. 5. Elevation - degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer. 6. Retrieving - degree of willingness to do something for you. Together with Social Attraction and Following a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training. 7. Touch Sensitivity - degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required. 8. Sound Sensitivity - degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms. 9. Sight Sensitivity - degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels. 10. Stability - degree of startle response to a strange object.

All of these tests have been proven to be real by a percentage, but not exact, many different situations can make a dog life change including becoming part of a close family, individual attention, structure, correct management

256 views0 comments


bottom of page