Cantor’s Temperament Test

Cantor’s Puppy Aptitude Test
father of the LL, OO, PP & QQ litters

The puppy aptitude test that was used on Cantor is different from ours. It does not deliberately stress and challenge a pup like my tests do (for interest see the temperament test results for any of my litters, the links of which are on the litter pages and included at the bottom of this page) and did not identify the intelligence, drives and intensity that caused Cantor to fail in two homes before I took him.  Part of the problem was that the tester neglected to circle ratings in several of the exercises, so Cantor’s breeder didn’t have all the information that might have helped her recognize that this pups was not a good prospect for people wanting to have a working-line GSD for the first time (which both his first homes were), but instead needed to go to an experienced working handler.  Only because I have a lot of experience with working-line German Shepherds have I been able to channel his ambition into work and lessen the frustration he developed in those homes – and this continue to be very much a work in progress.  I had gone to Minnesota and watched the temperament test of the litter from which I got the first dog from her, and it was conducted in a tiny space, maybe 10′ square.  Contrast that with the large areas (a shop, a training arena, sometimes outside in huge areas) where we conduct my litter’s tests.  With those caveats, I continue with the on-line explanation given with this test.

This test was originally created by Joachim and Wendy Volhard as a way to test behavioral tendencies and predict what a puppy will be like as an adult. During the test, various exercises are done with the puppy to determine the following:

• Social Attraction: how well the puppy connects to people and whether he’s confident or dependent on others
• Following: his willingness to follow a person
• Restraint: whether the puppy is more dominant or submissive and how well he can be handled in difficult situations such as vet exams
• Social Dominance: how the puppy reacts to being dominated socially, whether he tries to dominate or if he’s independent and walks away
• Elevation: how well he accepts dominance when he’s in a position of no control
• Retrieving: how willing the puppy is to do something for you
• Touch Sensitivity: how sensitive he is to being handled, which can help determine the type of training equipment you’ll need
• Sound Sensitivity: how sensitive he is to loud noises as well as being a rudimentary test for deafness
• Sight Sensitivity: how the puppy responds to moving objects, which can reveal any tendencies to chase cars or the mailman
• Stability: how startled the puppy may be when confronted with a strange object
• Structure: This is a measure of how well-formed and proportioned the puppy is physically. A puppy with a solid build will generally be healthier than one that has issues with bone alignment.

The test done on Cantor has been revised from the original Volhard test, eliminating the structure evaluation and substituting a test of energy level. It also has only five scoring options on some tests. At the end of the test I include the Volhard’s suggestions of how to evaluate the scores.

1. Social Attraction
Purpose: Degree of attraction to people
Method: Place pup in testing area 4 feet from tester, who coaxes puppy to her/him

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Comes readily, tail up, jumps, bites at hands
2: Comes readily, tail up, paws, licks at hands
3: Comes readily, tail up
4: Comes readily; tail down
5: Comes hesitantly, tail down
6: Does not come at all

Cantor’s Score: Nothing circled
Comments: “Looked at sheet (covering boundaries so watchers invisible), came tail wagging.”


2. Following
Purpose: Degree of willingness to follow human leadership
Method: Stand up and walk away from puppy, encouraging verbally

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Follows readily, tail up, gets underfoot, bites at feet
2: Follows readily, tail up, gets underfoot
3: Follows readily, tail up
4: Follows readily, tail down
5: Follows hesitantly, tail down
6: No follow or went away

Cantor’s Score: 3
Comments: Whined, followed tester with tail wagging


3. Restraint
Purpose: Degree of dominance or submission. Response to social/physical dominance.
Method: Gently roll the pup on his back and hold it for 30 seconds. Continue holding until it no longer struggles.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Struggles fiercely, flails, bites
2: Struggles fiercely, flails
3: Settles, struggles, settles with eye contact
4: Slight struggle, then settles
5: No struggle, tail tucked
6: No struggle, strains to avoid eye contact

Cantor’s Score: Nothing circled
Comments: Struggled, whined whole time, eye contact at end

4. Social Dominance
Purpose: Degree of acceptance of human social dominance. How “forgiving” the pup is.
Method: Pup sits facing tester at a 45 degree angle. Tester strokes pups and puts his/her face close to pup.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Jumps, paws, bites, growls
2: Jumps, paws, licks
3: Cuddles up to tester, tries to lick face
4: Sits quietly, accepts petting, nudges/licks hands
5: Rolls over, no eye contact
6: Goes away and stays away

Cantor’s Score: 3
Comments: Licked, wagged tail


5. Elevation Dominance
Purpose: Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control
Method: Cradle the pup under its belly, fingers interlaced, and elevate just off the ground for 30 seconds

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Struggles fiercely, bites
2: Struggles
3: No struggle, relaxed, tail wags
4: No struggle, relaxed
5: No struggle
6: No struggle, froze, tail/rear legs tense

Cantor’s Score: Nothing circled
Comments: Whined whole time, relaxed


6. Retrieving (Obedience & Aptitude)
Purpose: Degree of willingness to work with humans. High correlation between ability to retrieve and successful guide dogs, obedience dogs and field trial dogs.
Method: Attract pup’s attention with crumpled paper ball. When he is watching, toss paper 4′ away. When pup goes after it, back up two feet and encourage him to come back.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Chases object, picks it up and runs away
2: Chases object, stands over it, does not return
3: Chases object, picks it up and returns to tester
4: Chases object, returns without object to tester
5: Starts to chase, loses interest
6: Does not chase

Cantor’s Score: 3
Comments: Went out right away, came back to tester


7. Touch Sensitivity
Purpose: Degree of sensitivity to touch
Method: Take webbing of one front foot and press between finger and thumb lightly, gradually increasing pressure on a scale from 1 – 10. Stop as soon as the puppy shows discomfort.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: 9 – 10 counts before response
2: 7 – 8 counts before response
3: 5 – 6 counts before response
4: 3 – 4 counts before response
5: 1 – 2 counts before response

Cantor’s Score: 3
No Comments

8. Sound sensitivity
Purpose: Degree of sensitivity to sound
Method: Place pup in center of testing area and make a sharp noise a few feet away. A large metal spoon struck sharply on a metal pan twice works well.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Locates sound & walks toward it
2: Locates sound, barks
3: Locates sound, shows curiosity, walks toward it
4: Locates sound
5: Cringes, backs, hides
6: Ignores sound, shows no curiosity

Cantor’s Score: 4
Comments: Turned and barked

9. Chase Instinct
Purpose: Degree of response to moving object: chase instinct
Method: Tie a string around a towel and drag it in front of the puppy from left to right.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Looks, attacks, bites
2: Looks, barks, tail up
3: Looks curiously, attempts to investigate
4: Looks, does not go forward, tail down
5: Runs away, hides
6: Ignores, shows no curiosity

Cantor’s Score: 3
Comments: Showed interest. Went away then came back.

10. Stability
Purpose: Degree of intelligent response to strange object
Method: Place pup in center of testing area. Closed umbrella is held 4′ away and pointed perpendicular to the direction the pup faces. The umbrella is opened and set down so the pup can investigate.

Possible Ratings/General Description
1: Walks forward, tail up, bites
2: Walks forward, tail up, mouths
3: Walks forward, attempts to investigate
4: Goes away, tail down, hides
5: Ignores, shows no curiosity

Cantor’s Score: Nothing circled
Comments: Backed away, walked to object, stopped at 1′, came back to tester

11. Energy Level
Purpose: Degree of physical energy
Method: Observe pup on the other tests and score according to the most frequent activity observed. Check with breeder for confirmation.

Possible Ratings/General Description
High: Continually runs, pounces, wiggles, paws
Medium: Mostly trots, occasionally runs, pounces, wiggles
Low: Walks slowly, sits quietly, remains in position usually
Stressed: Stands rigidly, eyes roll, tail down, ears back

Cantor’s Score: high

Overall Comments: More submissive, vocal puppy, curious, fairly confident, impulsive

“How to score the test
After you’ve administered each test and recorded the results, add up the number of one’s, two’s, three’s, etc.

Mostly One’s: This puppy has aggressive tendencies and is very dominant. He would not be a good match for families with children or elderly owners since he may be quick to bite. He would likely be a difficult dog to train and would require an experienced handler.
Mostly Two’s: This puppy is dominant. He would fit well in an adult household with an owner that can be firm and consistent in handling. Once the owner has gained his respect, he can be a very good companion. However, he may be too dominant for a household with children, or too energetic for an elderly owner.
Mostly Three’s: This puppy fits best with the average owner, accepts human leadership readily and can be good with children and elderly owners. He would likely be a good dog for obedience training, although he may be fairly active.
Mostly Four’s: This puppy is submissive and would fit with most owners, getting along well with children and elderly owners. He would train well, but may be somewhat less outgoing and energetic than a puppy that scores mostly three’s.
Mostly Five’s: This puppy is very submissive. He would not be the best choice for a first-time owner because he scares easily and needs to be taught how to be more outgoing. He would need a very regimented lifestyle to feel comfortable and open up. He’s generally safe for children, but could bite out of fear if overly stressed. Training him would take a lot of patience.
Mostly Six’s: This puppy is very independent and would be difficult to work with. He’s not very people-friendly and would require an experienced handler. He shouldn’t be matched with households with children. If you also recorded several one’s with this puppy, he may be likely to bite if stressed. This is particularly true if he scores a one in restraint.

If you find that after administering the puppy aptitude test a puppy has a few of every number, you should retest him in a few days. He may not feel well. Upon retesting, if the puppy still doesn’t show a pattern in scoring, he’s likely to have erratic behavior and may not make a good pet.”

What the scores mean for you
If you’re a first-time owner, you should look for a puppy that scores mostly three’s and four’s. One with this personality should be easy to train and family-friendly. This is particularly true if he scores a three in both social attraction and social dominance. This doesn’t mean that a puppy with other scores isn’t fit to be a pet, just that he may be better suited for owners that have more training experience. The test doesn’t pick good puppies. It only points out general personality traits a puppy will have as he grows. The puppy aptitude test should only be used as a gauge for a puppy’s temperament. It’s up to each person to make his or her own decision as to the personality they would like their puppy to have and choose based on this knowledge.”

see the NN litter’s Police/Narcotics temperament test and Search & Rescue test.  These are illustrated with photos of the NN litter as well as ones from other litters as needed.

see the OO litter’s Police/Narcotics temperament test and Search & Rescue test

see the PP litter’s Police/Narcotics temperament test and Search & Rescue test