How much do genetics play in temperment? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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How much do genetics play in temperment?

I was wondering peoples opinions on temperment.

If a puppy has a good temperment does that ensure it will grow up keeping that good natured temperment? Does it make it more likely? Or is it all training and socialization?

We have been told that both of our puppies have wonderful temperments by a couple of different vets and 3 different dog trainers. The breeder told us they breed for temperment, but I wasn't sure that was really possible. I mean you cannot guarantee your childrens temperment..one might be layed back, one strong willed, one might challenge your every decision.

I am hoping that with these genes and continual training and socialization their temperments will continue to be wonderful.

Thanks in advance for you opinions!
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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 11:09 PM
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Dogs change a great deal in temperamant from the time they're a puppy to the time they're adults. It can really be night and day. Some times it takes years for certain lines to mature until they reach that adult/mature mindset.

Temperament is really a combination of both genetics and how the puppy was socialized.

Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to genetics, but a puppy/dog has the best chance at solid temperament with a strong pedigree full of dogs that exhibit these type of behaviors and temperament as well as continuous socialization and training.
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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 11:24 PM
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I believe that temperament is pure genetics...but that environment can affect it as the pup grows. Solid tempered pups do not NEED to be socialized, they are stable with out it - a pup with a problem can be helped by socializing - and at the same time, a solid pup can be damaged by bad experiences, such as being attacked by an an adult dog...but a pup who is solid and good tempered will be such as an adult given he is raised properly and carefully.

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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 12:50 AM
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Temperament is 100% genetic and you can not change it. The only thing that changes is the definition of temperament

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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Packen View Post
Temperament is 100% genetic and you can not change it. The only thing that changes is the definition of temperament
What about a puppy from a genetically sound pedigree. Good breeder, good genetics, the whole nine yards. The puppy is full of potential, but has been locked up in someones backyard for the first year of it's life.

Wouldn't the dogs temperament be affected by this? I do feel temperament is a very big part genetic, but I definitely wouldn't say 100%.
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 01:17 AM
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Actually you can affect temperament by socializing/not socializing a puppy during the critical socialization period, as socialization effects the brain and a lack of socialization can result in changes in the brain/"wiring" as you don't get the same connections made.
For example a puppy may have inherited the best temperament but if you kept them in the basement or something (I know pups who have had this happen) for the first 4 months you will likely end up with lasting effects no matter how good the genetics are.


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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucy Dog View Post
What about a puppy from a genetically sound pedigree. Good breeder, good genetics, the whole nine yards. The puppy is full of potential, but has been locked up in someones backyard for the first year of it's life.

Wouldn't the dogs temperament be affected by this? I do feel temperament is a very big part genetic, but I definitely wouldn't say 100%.
Good question, and I think I have a shining example right here in my house that illustrates that temperament is mostly, maybe 90%?, genetic. (I made that number up on the spot. )

Keeta was a one year old stray I adopted from the pound. From much of her behaviour, I've come to believe that she had spent her previous life tied on a short line and isolated in a back yard. Though she loved people and was very friendly, there were so many issues! Afraid of everything! Didn't know so much as how to jump over a log on the ground. Was scared of stairs, pulled like a Clydesdale on leash, fought my authority tooth and nail. Did not tolerate handling and growled and snapped at being brushed or groomed. Touching her tail or her feet was a high risk activity. Her reaction to anything novel, if not fear, was suspicion: growling and barking.

Well, it took some time and some work, but a whole different dog emerged. Not much fazes her any more. She went from shying away from men, to doing bitework. According to others, she could title in Schutzhund, but she is getting on in age, had a past injury, and we have too many issues with the retrieves (mostly because of the jump) for me to feel confortable pushing her on in the training. Despite all that, quite a turnaround, but no amount of training and socialization would have made her into what she is if she did not have some decent nerve to help her overcome her past.

If of poor genetic nerve, all the training and socialization could have helped some, but her fearfulness and lack of confidence would have always been an issue, and the excuse of how she must have been previously abused would have been used all the time to explain a skittish and nervous temperament.

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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 09:07 AM
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IMO, Huge...HUGE impact. I know of one situation right now with a young dog who has suddenly become aggressive. Background shows unstable parents, "nobody can get near" the mother, and now the dog is showing instability towards strangers. One second he's great, the next he's lunging and snarling.

It's very sad when people choose to breed unstable dogs. The owners are cheated out of the companion they should have had and have a dog that always has to be managed. The dog is cheated out of a life that should have been free of fear and stress. Sad....sad...sad...
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 09:13 AM
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I believe that genetics is what the dog is made of.......and environment is what we make of the dog. JMO.

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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by robinhuerta View Post
I believe that genetics is what the dog is made of.......and environment is what we make of the dog. JMO.
Totally agree. Its not "Nature vs. Nurture" but "Nature AND Nurture".

Genetics plays a big role, but so does how the dog is raised. There is no such thing as a 100% rock solid temperament based on genetics. You give a cruel owner a "100% rock solid temperament" puppy, 6 months, and a cattle prod and you will have a vicious aggressive dog.

I've also seen aggressive dogs that people said could not be rehabilitated taken from one owner and turned into decent well behaved animals in the right trainers hands.

No such thing as 100% genetics, any more than we can blame various issues in human psychology and development on 100% genetics. Environment always plays a factor.

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