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Background and Methods


During the last decades the Labrador retriever has diverged into two types as some breeders began focusing on behaviours suitable for field work instead of breeding for dog shows. One type is usually referred to as conformational, show or common type and the other as a field or working type. The common type is mostly seen in dog shows or used as a family dog while the field type is mostly used as a gundog. This relatively recent split in two breed lines makes the Labrador retriever a good candidate for studying the effects of recent selection on behaviour. As dog shows and field work present very dissimilar environments where different behaviours are desired it is likely that differing selection pressures have created two genetically different breed lines. If behavioural differences exist, the recent common gene-pool simplifies studying which genes are associated with the behavioural differences between the breed lines. Therefore, the present study examines the effects of recent selection by assessing whether these two breed lines differ in behaviour.


101 privately owned Labrador retrievers were filmed doing a behaviour and personality test for dogs (BPD). The BPD is a standardised test battery developed by the Swedish Kennel Club and it describes a dog’s mentality with a focus on sociality, play interest, food interest, contact with owner, curiosity, fear/insecurity and threat/aggressiveness. During the test an autorised observer score the test. Additionally, I looked at the videos of the test and did a more detailed behavioural scoring for each dog. I also asked the owners of the dogs to answer a canine behavioural assessment and research questionnaire (C-BARQ). The C-BARQ contained 111 questions that were reduced to 11 categories: Stranger-directed aggression, owner-directed aggression, stranger-directed fear, non-social fear, dog-directed fear or aggression, separation-related behaviour, attachment or attention-seeking behaviour, trainability, chasing, excitability and pain sensitivity.


Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 06/08/15