Temperament is used in many contexts, one of them being breed-specific temperaments that are unique to each breed. Breed temperaments vary and are distinctive from other breeds. These breed temperaments are listed in each breed’s breed standard. Temperament can also be used to describe an individual dog’s personality or mannerisms, which is different and unique to each dog, similar to how people have their own personalities.
Breed temperaments are natural and predisposed ways a breed responds to a range of stimuli. They are often described using a mixture of virtues, for example, braveness and spirited. Descriptive adjectives like aloof and happy are also used to describe a breed’s temperament.
Some dogs will fit their breed temperament more than other dogs of the same breed, but in general, most will have the nucleus of their breed temperament and exhibit those characteristics and traits.
When it comes to compatibility with owners and dogs, it may be worth considering dog breeds that share some characteristics and qualities that you may have. Potentially matching yourself with dog breeds that have similar traits and characteristics may open you up to consider breeds you may not have before.
As unique as they are, it’s no surprise it’s difficult to generalise about breed temperaments even within the seven dog groups. Let’s take a look at some of the breed temperaments from each of the seven dog groups recognised by Dogs Australia.
With most of the group being bred and used as a companion or “lap dogs”, you can imagine the breeds in this group would have temperaments that complement that role. Straight from the breed standard, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is happy and friendly. The Havanese has a happy nature, loves children, and endlessly play with them, to the Affenpinscher who is a loyal and loving companion. The Pomeranian is an extrovert, lively and intelligent. The Pug is even-tempered and happy with a lively disposition.
Commonly known as the “little dogs with big hearts”, the terriers were bred to hunt vermin species like mice, rats, foxes, badgers, and hares, so you can expect these guys to be brave and bold. The Airedale Terrier is outgoing and confident, the American Staffordshire Terrier is known for its courage, while the Fox Terrier is friendly and fearless. They may be smaller dogs, but the Scottish Terrier is a faithful and bold breed. The West Highland White Terrier is alert, happy and courageous.
Bred to assist their owners when working in the field, you can imagine the gundog group enjoying being near their owners and spending time with them. The Cocker Spaniel known for its merry nature is affectionate and gentle. The Clumber Spaniel is kind, dignified and more aloof than other spaniels. The Golden Retriever is friendly and confident. The Hungarian Vizsla is known for its willingness to keep contact with its owners and is lively and even-tempered. The Labrador Retriever is biddable, intelligent and has a strong will to please.
Prized for their superior sight and or smell the hound group, like the gundog group, featured on the hunt with their owners. The aristocratic Afghan Hound is dignified and aloof. The Basset Hound is placid and affectionate. The Basset Fauve De Bretagne are excellent companions of man, sociable and affectionate. An impressive hound, the Irish Wolfhound is described as "Lambs at home, lions in the chase". The Rhodesian Ridgeback is dignified, intelligent, aloof with strangers.
Having a tireless attitude, expendable endurance and energy, and a strong work ethic, you can expect intelligent breeds wanting a job in this group. The tough Australian Cattle Dog is loyal and protective. The Maremma Sheepdog is courageous and proud. The ever-versatile German Shepherd Dog is well balanced, self-assured with steady nerves. The Shetland Sheepdog is affectionate and responsive to his owner and reserved towards strangers. The Pumi has a restless temperament, is extremely bold and is a little suspicious towards strangers.
Known for their versatility, the utility group are the specialists of the dog world. The Akita is dignified, courageous, aloof. The gamekeeper’s dog, the Bullmastiff, is high spirited, alert, and faithful. The Siberian Husky is friendly and gentle, but also alert and outgoing. The Rottweiler is good-natured, placid, and very devoted. The Kangal Shepherd Dog is bold, independent, and very intelligent.
The most varied and distinct group, the non sporting group are unique and individual in their way. Cherished in the United Kingdom, the Bulldog is comical, loving and determined. The Great Dane is kindly without nervousness, friendly and outgoing. The Chow Chow is dignified, loyal and aloof. The Poodle in all three sizes has the same temperaments, described as very active, intelligent, and well balanced. The ancient Xoloitzcuintle is calm, cheerful, and alert.
Temperament is important for new puppy owners and breeders. Purchasing from a reputable and well-educated breeder will ensure your chance of purchasing a dog that has a sound and stable temperament.