Dogs of working dog breeds in Sweden are required to participate in the Dog Mentality Assessment (DMA) if they are to be used in breeding. The aim of this study was to define behavioral traits that can be used for genetic evaluation of working dogs in Sweden, and estimate genetic parameters for these traits. Data on 33 behavioral reactions from the 10 subtests were used to estimate heritabilities for 12 breeds, with in total 61,434 records. In order to summarize these 33 variables into fewer traits, a factor analysis was applied to the phenotypes. This resulted in factors that could be named Sociability (SOC), Playfulness (PLAY), Distance Play, Chase-proneness (CH), Curiosity/Fearlessness (C/F), and Aggressiveness (AGGR). The behavioral reactions in the subtest Distance Play sometimes came out as a factor (6 breeds), but were often joined with SOC (5 breeds) or PLAY. AGGR came out as a factor in only 7 of the breeds. To simplify a routine genetic evaluation 6 traits were defined for all breeds: SOC, PLAY, CH, C/F, AGGR and Gunshot Avoidance (GUN), however, the exact definition was breed-specific and guided by the factor analysis. The first 4 traits have previously also been combined and called Boldness. Heritability estimates of all 33 reactions over all breeds averaged 0.13, ranging from 0.03 to 0.23. Heritabilities averaged around 0.25 for SOC, PLAY, and C/F and around 0.13 for the other 3 traits. These heritabilities were higher than the average of the heritabilities for the individual behavioral reactions that were included in the summary traits. Overall, SOC, PLAY, CH, and C/F were rather strongly genetically correlated with each other (ca 0.4-0.6), whereas these were weakly correlated with AGGR and negatively correlated to GUN (ca -0.3 to -0.5). In conclusion, the results show that it should be possible to achieve genetic increase in Boldness traits and a decreased AGGR and GUN, if that is desired in a given breed. Keywords: behaviour, canine, breeding program

Erling Strandberg, Helena Frögéli, Sofia Malm

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Biology - Behaviour, , 436, 2018
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