Volhard's Puppy Temperament Test
|#1 Social Attraction:
Place the puppy in test area. From a few feet away the tester
coaxes the pup to her/him by clapping hands gently and kneeling
down. Tester must coax in a direction away from the point where
it entered the testing area.
|Degree of social attraction, confidence or
dependence. Degree of social attraction, confidence or
||1. Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands
2. Came readily, tail up, pawed, liked at hands.
3. Came readily, tail up.
4. Came readily, tail down.
5. Came hesitantly, tail down.
6. Did not come at all.
Stand up and walk away from the pup in a normal manner. Make
sure the pup sees you walk away.
| Degree of following attraction. Not following
||1. Followed readily, tail up, got
underfoot, bit at feet.
2. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.
3. Followed readily, tail up.
4. Followed readily, tail down.
5. Followed hesitantly, tail down.
6. No following, or went away.
Crouch down and gently roll the pup on his back and hold it with
one hand for a full 30 seconds.
|Degree of dominant or submissive tendency. How
it accepts stress when socially and/or physically dominated.
||1. Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.
2. Struggled fiercely, flailed.
3. Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact.
4. Struggled, then settled.
5. No struggle.
6. No struggle, straining to avoid eye contact.
|#4 Social Dominance:
Let pup stand up and gently stroke him from the head to back
while you crouch beside him. Continue stroking until a
recognizable behavior is established.
|Degree of acceptance of social dominance pup
may try to dominate by jumping and nipping or it is independent
and walks away.
||1. Jumped, pawed, bit growled.
2. Jumped, pawed.
3. Cuddles up to tester and tries to lick face.
4. Squirmed, licked at hands.
5. Rolled over, licked at hands.
6. Went away and stayed away.
|#5 Elevation Dominance:
Bend over and cradle the pup under its belly, fingers
interlaced, palms up and elevate just off the ground. Hold it
there for 30 seconds.
|Degree of accepting dominance while in position
of no control.
||1. Struggled fiercely, bit growled.
2. Struggled fiercely.
3. No struggle, relaxed.
4. Struggled, settled, licked.
5. No struggled, licked at hands.
6. No struggle, froze.
Crouch beside pup and attract its attention with crumpled up
paper ball. When the pup shows interest and is watching, toss
the object 1 to 2 meters in front of pup.
|Degree of willingness to work with a human. High
correlation between ability to retrieve and successful guide
dogs, obedience dogs, field trial dogs.
||1. Chases object, picks up object and runs away.
2. Chases object, stands over object, does not return.
3. Chases object and returns with object to tester.
4. Chases object and returns without object to tester.
5. Starts to chase object, loses interest.
6. Does not chase object.
|#7 Touch Sensitivity:
Take puppy’s webbing of one front foot and press between finger
and thumb lightly, then more firmly till you get a response,
while you count slowly to 10. Stop as soon as puppy pulls away
or shows discomfort.
|Degree of sensitivity to touch.
||1. 8 - 10 seconds before response.
2. 6 - 7 seconds before response.
3. 5 - 6 seconds before response.
4. 3- 4 seconds before response.
5. 1 - 2 seconds before response.
|#8 Sound Sensitivity:
Place pup in centre of area. Tester of assistant makes a sharp
noise a few feet from the puppy. A large metal spoon struck
sharply on a metal pan twice works well.
|Degree of sensitivity to sound (also a
rudimentary test for deafness).
||1. Listens, locates sound, walks towards it barking.
2. Listens, locates sound, barks.
3. Listens, locates sound, and walks there curiously.
4. Listens, locates sound.
5. Cringes, backs off, hides.
6. Ignores sound, shows no curiosity.
|#9 Sight Sensitivity:
Place pup in centre of room. Tie a string around a large towel
and jerk it across the floor a few feet away from the puppy.
|Degree of intelligent response to strange
||1. Looks, attacks and bites.
2. Looks, barks and tail up.
3. Looks curiously, attempts to investigate.
4. Looks, barks, tail-tuck.
5. Runs away, hides.
Place pup in center of area. Closed umbrella is held 4 feet away
and pointed perpendicular to the direction on the pup's face.
The umbrella is opened and set down so the pup can investigate:
|Degree of intelligent response to
the strange object.
||1. Walks forward, tail up. bites
2. Walks forward, tail up, mouths
3. Walks forward, attempts to investigate
4. Looks curiously, stays put
5. Goes way, tail down, hides
6. Ignores, shows no curiosity
INTERPRETATION OF SCORES
This dog is extremely dominant and has aggressive tendencies. It is
quick to bite and is generally considered not good with children or
the elderly. When combined with a 1 or 2 in touch sensitivity, will
be a difficult dog to train. Not a dog for the in experienced
handler; takes a competent trainer to establish leadership.
This dog is dominant and can be provoked to bite. Responds well to
firm, consistent, fair handling in an adult household, and is likely
to be a loyal pet once it respects its human leader. Often has
bouncy, outgoing temperament: may be too active for elderly, and too
dominant for small children.
This dog accepts human leaders easily. Is best prospect for the
average owner, adapts well to new situations and generally good with
children and elderly, although it may be inclined to be active.
Makes a good obedience prospect and usually has a common sense
approach to life.
This dog is submissive and will adapt to most households. May be
slightly less outgoing and active than a dog scoring mostly 3’s.
Gets along well with children in general and trains well.
This dog is extremely submissive and needs special handling to build
confidence and bring him out of his shell. Does not adapt well to
change and confusion and needs a very regular, structured
environment. Usually safe around children and bites only when
severely stressed. Not a good choice for a beginner since it
frightens easily, and takes a long time to get used to new
This dog is independent. He is not affectionate and may dislike
petting and cuddling. It is difficult to establish a relationship
with him for working or as a pet. Not recommended for children who
may force attention on him; he is not a beginner’s dog.
a) When combined with 1’s (especially in restraint); the independent
dog is likely to bite under stress.
b) When combined with 5’s the independent dog is likely to hide from
people, or freeze when approached by a stranger.
No clear patterns (several 1’s, 2’s and 5’s):
This dog may not be feeling well. Perhaps just ate or was recently
wormed. Wait two days and re-test. If the test still shows wide
variations (lots of 1’s and 5’s), it is probably unpredictable and
unlikely to be a good pet or obedience dog.
Score of 3 in Social Attraction and Social Dominance:
The socially attracted dog is more easily taught to come and is more
cuddly and friendly. Its interest in people can be a useful tool in
training, despite other scores.
Score of 1 in Restraint and 1 in Touch Sensitivity:
The dominant aggressive dog, insensitive to touch, will be a handful
to train and extremely difficult for anyone other than an
exceptionally competent handler.
Score of 5 in Stability:
This is likely to be a “spooky” dog which is never desirable. It
requires a great deal of extra work to get a spooky dog adapted to
new situations and they generally cannot be depended upon in a
Score of 5 in Touch and Sound Sensitivity:
May also be very “spooky” and needs delicate handling to prevent the
dog from becoming frightened.