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Discussion Starter #1
I have heard people talk about how a dog's color relates to its temperament, and I'm wondering how much truth there is to this.

For example, regarding GSDs, I've always heard that sables have more drive, and blacks are the most solid in nerve. So far, in general, I have noticed this trend to hold true. I remember reading a study that showed sable bitches are more likely to regurgitate food for their pups.

Some people swear that temperament differences relating to color holds true in other breeds, as well--that buff Cocker Spaniels are more sensitive than blacks, that red Poodles are the craziest, and that chocolate Labs are goofier than blacks or yellows.

Temple Grandin claims that white animals are often more sensitive in body and temperament than their colored counterparts; that their nerves are a bit thinner. They do tend to have more sensitive skin, for sure.

I was reading a study that showed there is a physical difference between the skin of black vs. yellow Labradors. The blacks have a higher pH to their skin. I have always noticed that black dogs have a particular odor, irrespective of breed. It's not usually an overpowering odor, just distinctive, and in my grooming salon I always notice it when I bathe black dogs. The more alkaline pH of the skin could account for this, as it could allow for the growth of certain microorganisms that cause odor, vs. a more acidic skin pH that would discourage such growth. If there are such physical differences, it's conceiveable that there could be physical differences that affect temperament as well.

What do you think?
 

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I use to see this. In labs I think its true - chocolates are NAUGHTY.

However I think in our breed it is related to lines. Show lines tend to be black and tans, working lines tend to be sable. So in general those colorations are going to have different temperaments and drives. I've yet to meet a stable white GSD, but because most registries dont accept white finding a good breeder is very hard to find so a well bred white GSD is much harder to come by.

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The black dogs I've seen tend, in general, to be more nervy, but so far I've attributed it that until recently most of them came from a line known for nerviness. Since blacks are recessive, impossible to get ride of the nerviness without the color on a small population like the Chilean one until more new blood is imported.

I think that the color and the association with temperament is not due to the color itself, but the preferences of the breeders.

I have a theory with the reddest the dog...
 

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"Nervy"... as in "nervous", or as in "strong nerve"?
I was told he would have strong nerves lol. :p
Honestly, he's a pretty solid little guy so far. NOTHING scares him. And he's very alert. We'll see when he gets old enough for his courage test and when I get him assessed for herding...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
However I think in our breed it is related to lines. Show lines tend to be black and tans, working lines tend to be sable. So in general those colorations are going to have different temperaments and drives.
Of course that could account for a lot of it, but I've heard people say it in the context of a litter. That the sables in a litter tend to be the driviest, more so than the black/tan pups. But that could be the breeder's own preferences at work, consciously or unconsciously. As for myself, I haven't known many low-drive sables, so I suppose the theory is plausible.

It interests me that black GSDs are supposed to have the strongest nerve, and wonder why it would be. I hadn't really noticed it until I thought about it--but I don't think I've ever met a black GSD that didn't have good nerves. Even the BYBs.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Weak nerves
Oh, so you have heard the opposite thing about black GSDs that I did. Interesting.

I agree. I think it's lines and breeding with the coat color being a zero denominator.
Given what we know about genetics, it seems unlikely that coat color should have anything to do with temperament... barring, of course, things like albinism, lethal white/double merle, etc. where the coat color is a symptom of a larger condition. It's just something I keep hearing, maybe old wives' tales, or maybe there's something to it, I don't know. I've also heard that longcoat GSDs are sweeter and more laid-back than stock coats, and my own experience does not seem to refute this.

I've heard horse people talk about color, too, as well as the direction of the whorls of hair on the forehead.

One thing I have noticed with cats: Calico/tortoiseshell cats are often real firecrackers! Part of it is the fact that felines of this color pattern are almost always female, and female cats are generally more firey than males. But I always have to be extra careful when I get calico/tortie cats in for grooming. They can be very sweet and affectionate, but will turn aggressive in a hot second if they don't like what you're doing.

They seem to make really good hunters, too. It's as though they have sharper or more aggressive instincts.

OTOH I have groomed purebred, pedigreed Persian cats (the show type) that were calico, and they had the nice, laid-back, tolerant Persian personality, and were not particularly aggressive. So if there is a correlation between coat color and temperament, I think selective breeding would trump it.
 

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I have heard people say that red border collies tend to be nervier than blacks/blue merles.

Honestly, I think it's mostly breeding and lines that dictates the temperament rather than color itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Can I get more clear on what "nervy" means? Some people use it to mean "weak nerved", and others use it to mean "strong nerve". So I'm confused.

To me, "nervy" always meant "nervous", but I've heard other people use it the opposite way.

Is there any way we can arrive at a consensus for this forum, just to avoid further confusion?
 

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Personally, this is the first time on this or any other forum that I read "nervy" as anything else than "nervous".
 

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The black dogs I've seen tend, in general, to be more nervy, but so far I've attributed it that until recently most of them came from a line known for nerviness. Since blacks are recessive, impossible to get ride of the nerviness without the color on a small population like the Chilean one until more new blood is imported.

I think that the color and the association with temperament is not due to the color itself, but the preferences of the breeders.

I have a theory with the reddest the dog...
I agree with Catu, couldn't say it any clearer than what she wrote!!!
 

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I don't think coat color has anything to do with temperament. I think that bloodlines have a lot to do with temperament. Now you see more of a particular color with some bloodlines, but color itself is a false indicator.
 

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What Packen said....having said that the Black and red color or oak color you see today in the WGSL is the result of years and years of breeding for this color. The three dogs that made up this creation is Mutz ....black and tan, Canto....black and tan, and Quanto....black and reddish......Mutz was known for temperament by genetics, the other two not as much.....Canto had the movement, Quanto had color and decent temperament but he had the same nerviness in his lines as Canto. 40 years later of breeding these three dogs and systemically eliminating the Mutz influence in the last 15 years, you now have a black and red/oak color that does have a temperament correlation as result of breeding practices.
For the newbies that think I am making this up, get a WGSL pedigree, and take it back ten generations and my comments on this phenomena will be clearer.
But other than that Packen summed it up about right.
 
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