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Your Purebred Puppy, Your Candid Guide to Dogs and Dog Breeds

NoPuppyMills Forums

  Temperament:  Having the personality traits suitable for the job you want the dog to do. (If you want your dog to be good with children, and your dog has that personality trait, then he has a good temperament.  He may not do so well at other things, such as guarding or herding, but that may not have been what you were looking for.

You need to be aware of you dog's strengths and limitations.  They have a profound influence on the ease or difficulty of teaching your dog a particular task.

Temperament Testing:  Results show the inherited behaviors of breeding stock, valuable information for future breedings and results make it easier for breeders to place the right puppy into the right home where people will be happy with it. (After all, no breeder wants a puppy returned when it is 8 months old and may have been ruined by being improperly raised.)

During their first year,
Newfoundlands grow from
about a pound
to over a hundred pounds.

  Capriccio Farm uses the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (PAT) at 7 weeks of age. (The optimal age when the puppy is neurologically complete and it has the brain of an adult. After 7 weeks the responses will be tainted by prior learning)  PAT uses a scoring system from 1-6 and consists of ten tests.  The tests are done consecutively and in the order listed below.  Each test is scored separately, and interpreted on its own merits.  The scores are not averages, and there are no winners or losers.  The entire purpose is to select the right puppy for the right home.
  1. Social Attraction:  Degree of social attraction to people, confidence or dependence. 

    The puppy is placed in the testing area about 4 feet from the tester.  The tester kneels down and coaxes the puppy to come to him by encouragingly and gently clapping hands and calling.  The tester must coax the puppy in the opposite direction from where it entered the test area.

Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands 1
Came readily, tail up, pawed, licked at hands 2
Came readily, tail up 3
Came readily, tail down 4
Came hesitantly, tail down 5
Didn't come at all 6

  1. Following:  Wiliness to follow a person.

    The tester stands up and slowly walks away encouraging the puppy to follow.

Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at feet 1
Followed  readily, tail up, got underfoot 2
Followed readily, tail up 3
Followed readily, tail down 4
Followed hesitantly, tail down 5
Did not follow or went away 6

  1. Restraint:  Degree of dominant or submissive tendency, and ease of handling in difficult situations.

    The tester crouches down and gently rolls the puppy on its back and holds it on its back for 30 seconds.

Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit 1
Struggled fiercely, flailed 2
Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact 3
Struggled, then settled 4
No struggle, no eye contact 5
No struggle, strained to avoid eye contact 6

  1. Social Dominance:  Degree of acceptance of social dominance by a person.

Let the puppy stand up or sit and gently stroke it from the head to the back while you crouch beside it.  See if it will lick your face, an indication of a forgiving nature.  Continue stroking until you see a behavior you can score.


Jumped, pawed, bit, growled 1
Jumped, pawed 2
Cuddled up to tester and tried to lick face 3
Squirmed, licked at hands 4
Rolled over, licked at hands 5
Went away and stayed away 6

  1. Elevation Dominance:  Degree of accepting dominance while in a position of no control, such as at the veterinarian or groomer.

The tester cradles the puppy with both hands, supporting the puppy under its chest, and gently lift its two feet off the ground and holds it there for 30 seconds.

Struggled fiercely, tried to bite 1
Struggled fiercely 2
Struggled, settled, struggled, settled 3
No struggle, relaxed 4
No struggle, body stiff 5
No struggle, froze 6

  1. Retrieving:  Degree of willingness to do something for you.  Together with social attraction and following , a key indicator for ease or difficulty in training.

The tester crouches beside the puppy and attracts its attention with a crumpled up piece of paper.  When the puppy shows some interest, the tester throws the paper no more than four feet in front of the puppy encouraging it to retrieve the paper.

Chase object, picked it up, and ran away 1
Chased object, stood over it, and did not return 2
Chased object, picked it up, and returned with it to tester 3
Chased object and returned without it to the tester 4
Started to chase object, lost interest 5
Does not chase object 6

  1. Touch Sensitivity:  Degree of sensitivity to touch and a key indicator to the type of training equipment required.

    The tester locates the webbing of one of the puppy's front paws and presses it lightly between his index finger and thumb.  The tester gradually increases pressure while counting to ten and stops when the puppy pulls away or shows signs of discomfort.


8-10 count before response 1
6-8 count before response 2
5-6 count before response 3
3-5 count before response 4
2-3 count before response 5
1-2 count before response 6

  1. Sound Sensitivity:  Degree of sensitivity to sound, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.

The puppy is placed in the center of the testing area and an assistant stations at the perimeter makes a sharp noise, such as banging a metal spoon on the bottom of a metal pan.

Listened, located sounds, and tan toward it barking 1
Listened, located sounds, and walked slowly toward it 2
Listened, located sounds, and showed curiosity 3
Listened and located sound 4
Cringed, backed off, and hid behind tester 5
Ignored sound and showed no curiosity 6

  1. Sight Sensitivity:  Degree of response to a moving object, such as chasing bicycles, children or squirrels.

The puppy is placed in the center of the testing area.  The tester ties a string around a bath towel and jerks it across the floor, two feet away from the puppy.


Looked, attacked and bit object 1
Looked and put feet on object and put mouth on it 2
Looked with curiosity and attempted to investigate, tail up 3
Looked with curiosity, tail down 4
Ran away or hid behind tester 5
Ignores, shows no curiosity 6

  1. Stability:  Degree of startle response to a strange object.

An umbrella is opened about five feet from the puppy and gently placed on the ground.

Looked and ran to the umbrella, mouthing or biting it 1
Looked and walked to the umbrella, smelling it cautiously 2
Looked and went to investigate 3
Sat and looked, but did not move toward the umbrella 4
Ran away from the umbrella 5
Shows no interest 6


The scores are not added up, and the results are not based on a cumulative score.  Instead, the scores are interpreted as follows:  (Abbreviated version)

  • Puppies with lots of 1s or 2s have strong leadership aspirations and may be difficult to manage.  This puppy needs an experienced owner.  Not good with children.
  • Mostly 3s and 4s can be quite a handful, but should be good with children and does well with training.  Energy needs to be dispersed with plenty of exercise.
  • The puppy with mostly 5s will do well in a quiet, stable and predictable environment.  Basic training and a controlled setting will build up its confidence.
  • Puppies with several 6s is so independent it doesn't need you or anyone.  It is it's own person and unlikely to bond to you.

The above information was taken from "Dog Training for Dummies" by Jack and Wendy Volhard