Does Breed Influence A Dog’s Personality?

A very unscientific study using a few of Rover-Time’s cherished pups.

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The smartest dog breed is the border collie. A beagle will always find its way home. Golden retrievers are lovingly attached to their owners. There are many breed stereotypes, but are these stereotypes based on scientific study? We’ve discussed this once before on the blog.

Determining links between behavior, personality and genes is profoundly complicated. So we did our own very unscientific study using a few of Rover-Time’s cherished pups, polling their parents for help.

Charlie (Miniature Schnauzer) and Roscoe (Schnoodle)
Charlie has a deep-rooted need to protect our house and it’s humans. He barks at all sounds, and routinely does and perimeter check of the house. Schnauzers were bred as guard dogs and to protect the house from intruders as well as vermin-don’t get me started in his impulse to hunt rats and squirrels.

Every time Charlie barks we have to remind each other that Charlie legitimately thinks he is saving our lives.

Smudge (Chihuahua/Dachshund)
He’s a big dog trapped in a 10 lb package! He’s very protective and always thinks he’s in charge. He can be aggressive toward other dogs and wary of strangers but is a lover at heart. Both breeds are known for this and he has improved with socialization (he’s a rescue and a had a rough start) but I will always be his #1.

Our first trip to the vet, the doctor had to face the wall to talk to me. He was sweet as pie when I stepped out but wasn’t in the mood for eye contact when dad was in the room.

Tucker (Corgi/Pitbull/Chow) and Marlowe (Terrier/Pitbull)
Both pups are a mix of so many breeds, it’s hard to tell where their personality traits come from! Tucker is the most loyal pup I’ve ever met; Marlowe needs to be the center of attention and will push all boundaries.

When Marlowe ignores my command to come, I know I can get her attention by simply patting Tucker on the head. Her FOMO kicks into full gear and she’s by my side immediately.

Chickadee (Chihuahua and something. Maybe Terrier?)
This is the first Chihuahua mix I’ve ever had. The websites say they’re very alert, which Chickadee definitely is. Except when she is asleep.

When we first adopted Chickadee, she would bark like crazy if a doorbell rang on TV! That has stopped. She still barks a lot if the actual doorbell rings, but she can let those television ones go now.

Dexter (Poodle/Pekingese)
The poodle in him makes him very smart and very stubborn. Training has been tough. But he’s a rescue and now 9 years old (I adopted him 3 years ago), so I don’t think he’s going to change much.

When we go for our walks, Dexter is always looking up and scanning the trees for squirrels to chase. He can be very stubborn, and won’t keep moving until he’s sure they aren’t around.

Riley (Smooth Fox Terrier)
A typical terrier, Riley is super smart and very focused. Nothing can come between him and his ball.

Riley is so fixated by his ball, that if it rolls under furniture and he can’t reach it he will literally stand in front of it and wait until someone comes to get it for him. He has clocked in over an hour in one standing in front of the couch.

Bagels (Beagle/Foxhound)
Bagels is the perfect dog for parents with Jewish and Catholic heritage in that her food fixation has resulted in her perfecting the most guilt-inducing stares when she wants more treats (which is always).

After our first year with Bagels and us being pushovers for her guilty glaze, we began to (try) to tune her out when we would be eating a meal on the couch. She then came up with a new technique. Rather than just sitting next to us staring whomever had more interesting food down, she would raise her paw and “poke” that person lightly in the arm – something oddly that both our mothers do when talking.


There are for sure inherent, behavioral characteristics that are hard wired into breeds. We put them there ages ago. Retrievers retrieve. Herders herd and problem solve. Terriers are stubborn. But in our opinion, the degree and manner in which those characteristics play out depend on the nurture factors: the pet parent’s behavior, the pup’s socialization and previous experiences.

Do you agree?

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