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Introduction

Photo: Anna-Maria Svedberg

Year 2005 the Swedish Armed Forces Dog Instruction Centre, SAFDIC, started a breeding program of German Shepherds in Sollefteå. Every year the SAFDIC is expected to deliver at least 50 dogs with the right temperament either to be trained to become a military dog or a breeding dog and there is a need for about 70 police dogs. The dogs that are bred at the kennel of the SAFDIC are raised by volunteers (also called puppy raisers) from the age of eight weeks until they do a standardised behaviour test the behavioural test, at an age of 15 to 18 month. During the time of the stay at the puppy raisers there are three available meetings for the puppy raisers with consultants (which are working for the SAFDIC) to get information from the SAFDIC.  If a dog “passes” the behavioural test they will either be trained by the Swedish Armed Forces for 8-10 months or become a part of the breeding program. The behavioural tests are conducted at five different places; spread across Sweden, with the same test leader at all the test to reduce bias from different test leaders. The behavioural test is divided into 14 sub-tests, which are all conducted during the same day. All sub-tests combined takes about 40 minutes for every dog. The purpose of the behavioural test is to evaluate the dogs’ temperament and suitability to become military working dogs or used as breeding animals. Since the start of the selective breeding program about 25 % of all born German Shepherds are used in the Swedish Armed Forces in some way. About 50% of all tested dogs are eliminated due to unsuitable temperament, and almost 25 % are eliminated due to medical issues (most common; problems with joints, hips and elbows). Still, dogs with physiological problems are scored in the behavioural test, in order to get more information about the heritability of test responses and also to evaluate the parental breeding dogs. The differences in the results of the behavioural test could be due to, for example, personality, genes and early experiences of the dogs.

Even though a potential military working dog passes the behavioural test this does not mean that the dog actually becomes a working dog. After passing the test the dog is put into training to become a working dog. During training some dogs can still fail to become a military dog. About 25 % of the dogs that starts the training fail due to mental issues. This means that there are some aspects of the behavioural test that does not make it 100 % sure that if the dog passes it will become a working dog.
 
One way to examine behaviour in dogs is to use the Canine Behavioural Assessment and Research Questionnaire, more commonly known as C‑BARQ. The C‑BARQ is a questionnaire which the dog’s owner/caretaker answers. The version of C‑BARQ used in this present study had 81 questions divided into the 14 categories and 24 questions in the miscellaneous section.The dog’s results from a behavioural test will probably be correlated to its personality and behaviour but also with early experiences in the dog’s life . Early experiences in dog do affect the behaviour of the adult dog. This indicates that if the dog has been experience something specific this will affect the performance in the behavioural test. These experiences are also covered by C‑BARQ and by adding some questions about experiences this will be even more covered.
 

Aim

Photo: Anna-Maria Svedberg

The aim of this study was to see if the results from the standardised behavioural test can be connected to a modified version of C-BARQ (questions about experiences during the dog's first year of life added). The first hypothesis was that there will be indications for the results in the behavioural test by the use of C-BARQ. The second hypothesis was that some of the additional questions, concerning early experiences, will be indicators for the result in the behavioural test.


Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/14/13