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Defining Temperament


Anna Bradley conducts her own research into newly recognized cross breed dogs to look


for possible temperament and personality “standards”

o one can have possibly failed to notice the rise over the last few years of newly recognized cross breed dogs (NRCBDs) with their weird and wonderful names such as puggle (pug x beagle), Maltipoo (Maltese x poodle), schnoodle (schnauzer x poodle), and Peek a Poo (Pekingese x poodle).

In the absence of a universal blueprint, Labradoodles may be described, anecdotally, as trainable and very active

Focus and Concerns

My initiative whilst studying for my master’s at Newcastle University, U.K. and conducting dissertation research was to examine what happens when two parent breeds are crossed and produce Labradoodles or cockapoos, and to specifically look at the temperament of that offspring. Another particular interest was whether personality traits can be attributed to each NRCBD and categorized in a way resembling a template or “breed” standard in the same way they are attributed to pure breeds. If so, this would potentially have exciting repercussions as prospective owners would have some guide as to what to expect, temperament-wise, when they purchase a new cross breed.



The British Cockapoo Society has stated that it is impossible to define a breed standard since so much variation exists in visual aspect, intelligence and temperament. Within the UK Labradoodle and cockapoo breed, clubs largely concur regarding expected physical and temperament traits, but accounts are narrative and open to ambiguity. Labradoodles may be described as trainable, very active (Labradoodle Association, 2009) and cockapoos as “loyal, loving, cuddly, fun” (The Cockapoo Club of GB, 2014). These are simply anecdotes in the absence of a universal “blueprint” -- there is no standard to breed towards. Factor in other variability such as the crossing of F1, F2, F3 dogs and back cross-

© Can Stock Photo Inc./jakeric

I decided to conduct some research, concentrating on what one might say are the foundation examples – cockapoos and Labradoodles. My research was borne primarily by the concerns of some researchers that the creation of NRCBDs might, in some instances, be correlated with breeders’ “mercenary attitudes,” leading to exploitation of dogs and the creation of a throwaway culture, aided by the media ascribed title of “designer dogs” and further resulting in dogs being treated as commodities (Beverland, Farrelly & Lim Ai Ching, 2008). If substantiated, this is of obvious concern. Furthermore, Allan Reznik, editor-in-chief of Dog Fancy and Dog World (cited in Beverland et al., 2008) defines NRCBDs rather subjectively as “crossing breeds, adding a fanciful name….indicative of a society that loves labels.” Could it be, therefore, that in some quarters, profit and fashion predominates over confirmation and temperament? Only recently, Wally Conron, himself the creator of the Labradoodle “breed,” referred to the detrimental effects on temperament with random breeding of Labradoodles, describing many as “crazy and untrainable” (Coren, 2014). Why are pure breeds and new crossbreeds so different and how does this affect temperament? A breed standard exemplifying excellence in terms of confirmation is available for 210 recognized Kennel Club (UK) pure breeds. Breed standards also include suggestions as to what the temperament of that breed should be. In contrast, as a mixed breed, no standard with associated expectations regarding physical attributes or temperament is available for NRCBDs. In order to create a new breed, common physical attributes and a standardized, predictable temperament must be identified (Kane, 2017).

ing, or the introduction of show/working strains of parent breeds etc., and there is more potential impact on temperament.


The study utilized the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ©), developed at the University of Pennsylvania, USA and demonstrated as a reliable evaluation of canine behavior and temperament (Hsu & Serpell, 2005). Owners of Labradoodles, cockapoos and their respective parent breeds (English and American cocker spaniel, Labrador retriever and standard, miniature and toy poodles) aged 6 months and above were recruited via a request to participate, which was posted on 14 British internet platforms. The appeal generated 240 participants and the data was computer analyzed using a statistical analysis program. BARKS from the Guild/July 2017


BARKS from the Guild July 2017  

BARKS from the Guild is the bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, p...

BARKS from the Guild July 2017  

BARKS from the Guild is the bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, p...