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Decoding Canine Personalities: The Influence of Breed Traits and Genetics

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Have you ever wondered why your dog behaves the way they do? Are you puzzled by the unique quirks and behaviors exhibited by certain breeds? In this blog post, we dive deep into the captivating world of breed traits and genetics to shed light on canine personalities. Join me, Lisa, The Traveling Dog Trainer, as we explore the fascinating connection between breed traits and behavior, and how it can impact our understanding of our beloved dog companions.

The Power of Breed Traits: Unveiling Canine Behaviors

Breed traits play a significant role in shaping your dog's behavior. For example: As a trainer, I often encounter clients with herding breed dogs, like Australian Shepherds, who are perplexed by their dog's tendency to nip at their children's ankles. (I train private lessons on how to properly redirect and reshape this behavior). But having awareness on breed-specific behaviors is crucial when selecting a pet for your lifestyle. Will you be able to provide the proper training and energy outlets for a high working breed, or a young puppy? -

Consider the following questions:

1. How do you see breed traits influencing YOUR dog's instincts and natural behaviors at home?

2. What challenging or unexpected encounters, if any, have you experienced with your dog? 3. What do you think triggered the negative encounter to your dog and why?

If you'd like - Share an experience where you witnessed your dog's breed-specific behavior in action in the comments!

My Trainer Tip: Realistic expectations are key when it comes to understanding your dog's needs and behaviors. Remember that certain behaviors, such as herding, are inherent in specific breeds and require appropriate outlets and training strategies. (Socialization and other variables - like your lifestyle environment for the dog, routine and other factors can shape a dog's personality a bit - but that isn't the focus of today's post).

Embracing Genetic Diversity: An Advantage of Mixed Breed Dogs

While purebred dogs have distinct breed traits, mixed breed dogs offer a delightful blend of genetic diversity, which helps neutralize out some of the very strong genetic traits in purebred lines. Personally, I see this as a plus more times than not. These dogs often bring unique characteristics to our lives and looks. If you are unsure of your dog's breeds, you can ask your veterinarian for their opinion or look up dog breeds that resemble your dogs' appearance and traits. If you guess, feel free to share why you think your dog is a certain breed/s in the comments!

Managing Expectations: Customizing Training Approaches

  • To ensure a harmonious relationship with your dog, it's crucial to manage your expectations and tailor training approaches accordingly.

  • Consider these aspects:

How can understanding breed traits help you create a training plan that suits your dog's needs? For example, some breeds - like my Australian Shepherd example today, may enjoy agility training or playing fetch, where they can chase and get some extra energy out in a healthy way. However, a bulldog may not enjoy, or physically tolerate, a highly active lifestyle that involves traveling regularly or agility.

- Hound dogs, like beagles, would excel at nose work games, or may like puzzle toys to burn off mental stimulation, at home. For more specialized training, the noses on hounds are exceptional for tasks like man trailing or scent work detection! Remember, every dog is unique, but understanding their basic lineage can prove to be a helpful guide for owners to understanding your dog's behavior in life.

Purebred Dog Advice

Know the breed line. For example, if you intend to adopt a purebred dog for hunting, make sure the dog is also bred to hunt. I have seen AKC registered, show dog lines of Brittany Spaniels be adopted to hunters, who were disappointed to find out their Brittany wasn't bred to hunt, defeating their intended purpose of adopting this breed of dog.

I have seen police working dogs, bred from linage to do apprehension and tracking, be homed as family pets - with their highly intense working drive. Be aware of the energy level and physical requirements a dog's personality needs in your home. Even the purebred, intense police working dog, that was adopted to the unsuspecting, average pet owning family, learned how to train the dog through my lessons.

  • The out-of-control intense focus was controlled with a ball and consistency, the German shepherd just needed proper training outlets to thrive and learn his place. I am so proud of them and love watching dogs transform with proper training guidance.

So Today's Lesson Recap:

By delving into the captivating world of breed traits and genetics, we have gained a deeper understanding of our dogs' personalities. Recognizing the influence of breed-specific behaviors, embracing the advantages of mixed breed dogs, and managing our expectations, we can foster stronger connections with our canine companions and develop effective training strategies.

As an animal welfare advocate, I must point out a solid - "Did You Know" spot:

-According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters in the United States each year. Personally, I see it happen volunteering at shelters every week: Many times because the owners failed to communicate and understand the dog properly. Dogs take patience, but understanding breed traits and genetics can help prevent surrender - by aligning your expectations with the unique needs of your chosen breed or mixed breed dog.

For perspective, just one shelter I will not name, alone, has euthanized 700 dogs this year so far, due to overpopulation, and its only May - so just know, I have no problem with legitimate breeds from legitimate breeders for working purposes. I am just aware and exposed to the lack of homes for good dogs, purebred and mixed alike, and realize many of the hobby breeders are not needed, usually not properly socializing their dogs. So many perform unethical breeding practices that operate. I see the importance of preserving a select number of purebred lines - but the current state of the laws is not enforced or strict enough on bad breeders. No government power seems to be fighting the root of the problem - overpopulation and spay and neutering awareness.

As responsible pet owners, let us appreciate the unique qualities and needs that each breed brings. Together, we can create an environment where our dogs thrive, and the bond between human and canine flourishes.

Thank you for joining me on this insightful journey into the realm of breed traits and genetics. Together, let us continue to learn, grow, and provide our furry friends with the love and understanding they deserve. In future blogs, I will post more training specific suggestions for various breeds and highlight what different breeds are capable of!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Tuesday,


The Traveling Dog Trainer

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