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Temperment Testing

I don't know if what I am looking for is a temperament test but I do look for signs in pups so I can better help new owners pick a pup.

  1. Just after the pups open there eyes and they are starting to move we take the pups and move them away from the whelping box. Each pup is graded from 1 to 5 on finding there way back to the box.- Intelligence
  2. At 4 weeks I introduce a wing off of a game bird for retrieving. This is scored the same way. - Retrieving and desire
  3. At 5 weeks I put a clip wing pigeon with the pups and score the same for boldness and the desire to chase the bird and catch it.- Boldness and desire
  4. Retrieving the clip at 5 weeks is also graded. - Retrieving and boldness and desire
  5. I look for the dominant pups and submissive pups and score them. - This test is for what type of personality the pup has.
I look at personalities and everything I can notice about the pups. If a buyer is looking for a pup that will see field trials or a hunt tests, this person is pointed to the pups the show me a lot of those traits and scores the highest. If somebody is looking for a pup that is a little more reserved and is only going to hunt a few times per year, I lean them to the pups that seem to fit there need about in the middle. If I have buyer that wants a pet I lean them to the pups with the lowest score. But I have seen some of these lower scoring pups end up as Hell on wheels, so how the buyer bonds and trains and socializes the pup makes a big difference.

Buying a pup is a crap shoot but if a seller can tell you more about the pup besides, "He sure is cute!". This will give a potential buyer more info to work with.

- Ron Klimes

No I do not test my puppies. I do however, separate them from one another by the 59th day after whelping. This eliminates the "dominant" alpha dog and the "submissive" pup.

Ted Wigglesworth
Houdini Llewellin Setters

I do not really believe in the so-called temperament testing. My reasoning is that if you took a 6 week old pup and gave him the temperament test at 6 weeks old, or did not administer they same test until that pup was 7-8 weeks old, the results would not be the same. They would be different depending on how old the pup was when the test was given that week. In order for the temperament test to be effective using its method to determine temperament, the results of testing of pups would have to be the same for that pup regardless if he was tested at 6, 7 or 8 weeks for the first time.

As a Retriever Trainer who also raises and sells pups, what I look for and test for is trainability and eagerness to please. We have a test we use to determine these qualities in puppies. We give the test at 7 weeks and re-test the same pups at 8 weeks and have received the same test results.

Social dominance to determine the degree of a pups accepting dominance while in a position of no control.

I pick up sitting on the ground and look it in the eye. What does the pups do?

  1. Does the puppy give me good eye contact?
  2. Does the pup look away giving no eye contact?
Dog #1 has given me good eye contact will be easy to train. He has accepted my dominance. Dog #2 is a dominant pup he will be a good choice for a pro trainer but not an easy dog for an amateur to train.

Evaluation Dominance

Pick pup up and cradle him, holding him two foot off the ground for 30 seconds.
  1. Does the pup struggles fiercely, biting at your hands?
  2. Does the pup struggles then relaxes?
  3. Does the pup not struggles at all and has tail wagging.
  4. Does the pup not struggles at all?
  5. The pup does not struggle, body is tense, pup is afraid?
Dog #1 is a dominant dog, he will be a hard dog to train. He does not want to accept any dominance. Dog #2 is a pup that accepts dominance and will be a good choice for an amateur to train. Dog #3 is a good choice, he will be easy to train. Dog #4 is a soft pup, seneticive and will not take pressure well. Dog #5 is a pup that will have a hard time adjusting to new situations and not a good pup to even consider.


I hold pup in my lap and put my hand by the pups talking quietly to the pup what does the pup do?
  1. Licks my hand.
  2. Give no response.
  3. Struggles trying to get away.
Dog #1 pup is going to be my choice, he has shown he likes people. My choice to take. Dog #2 pup really has not decided what he thinks of this. Dog #3 pup again is a dominent pup and is probley the same pup that would not give you eye contact. Not a good pup to take.


Take balls, socks small puppy toys lay then in an area where you will bring pups. I bring the pups out two at a time; taking them to toy area I watch to see the response the pups have to retrieving.
  1. Does the pup goes to an object pick it up and run around with it?
  2. Does the pup try to get it away from the other pup?
  3. Does the pup loses interest in the item retrieved?"
  4. Does the pup shows no interest in retrieving any item?
In selecting a pup I want to see good retrieving desire. A pup that has to loves to have something in his mouth or a pup that chases another pup trying to get an object away from the other pup.

#1, #2 would be my choices if I were looking for a hunting or working dog. #3 and #4 may just be slow to mature, but I would not take either pup for a hunting home. I would narrow my choices from the litter and in the end bring out the pups that showed the best desire for retrieving and then compare and choose from them.


I take the pup sitting on the ground and holding it. I apply pressure to the skin between the toes. How does the pup respond?
  1. Does the pup cries out? Struggle to get away.
  2. Does the pup shows a response then settles down?
  3. Does the pup shows no response at all?
Dog #1 is soft. and senstive that will be a harder dog to train, You need to be gentle with training methods. Dog #2 is the pup I would suggest an amateur take. Will be easier to train. Dog #3 is a tuff pup and a good choice if you are having your dog trained by a professional trainer.

Energy level Very important for hunting, pet, hunt test dogs..

To determine the degree of physical activity of a pup. Have whole litter out; watch pups for 10 minutes.
  1. Continually runs, pounces, wiggles do not slow down.
  2. Mostly trots occasionally runs, pounces, and wiggles
  3. Walks slowly, sits, quietly.
Dog #1 has a very high-energy level, will be more hyper. Dog #2 has a medium level of energy. Dog #3 has a low level

My choice for a pet home that wants a calm dog would be # 3 or #2. #1 is a good choice for a hunting home and a dog that will be kenneled in an outdoor kennel.

I put my hand out to the pup when holding him, I want the pup to lick my hand, and this shows that the pup likes people. The pup that would not look you in the eye wills probley also is a pup that will not like you.

I also look for the pups that watch I call them people watchers.this pup is showing you that he likes people. The independent pup that is by himself is going to be a harder dog to train. Better the professional trainer get him. We also apply pressure between the pup's toe. We see how he responds. Does he cry out, try to pull the paw away, shows no response. The pup that cry's out may be very soft, probley an easy dog for amateur to train. The pup that pulled his paw away will be a middle of the line dog to rain. The pup that showed no sign of having pressure applied to his paw, will be the tuff dog, the one that will take pressure.

Kim Moses
Hunters Marsh Kennels

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