Doggie Profiling

Looking for a new member for your family, but not sure what breed to choose? A controversial study from the American Veterinary Association shows that breeds can be placed in seven groups based on three general traits:

  •   Reactivity (described as showing a need for affection, excessive barking, snapping at children, being excitable, or having a high activity level)
  •   Aggressiveness (showing dominance or being territorial)
  •   Trainability (easy to train)

You can use this these groups to narrow down your search, based on what you are looking for in a dog.

Group 1 shows high reactivity, medium aggression, and low trainability. Dogs in this group include Lhasa Apso, Pomeranian, Maltese, Cocker Spaniel, Boston Terrier, Weimaraner, Pug, and Irish Setter.

Group 2 dogs have very low reactivity, very low aggression, and low trainability. These dogs include English Bulldog, Old English Sheepdog, Norwegian Elkhound, Bloodhound, and Basset Hound.


Group 3 is characterized by low reactivity, high aggression, and low trainability, (i.e. not great dogs for kids). The dogs in this group are the Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Saint Bernard, Afghan Hound, Boxer, Dalmatian, Great Dane, Chow Chow.

Group 4 has high reactivity, medium aggression, and very high trainability. If you are looking for a dog with these qualities, check out Shetland Sheepdogs, ShihTzus, any size Poodles, Bichon Frise, English Springer Spaniels, and Welsh Corgies.






Group 5 dogs have low reactivity, low aggression, high trainability. (For me, this is the perfect dog!) Dogs in this group include the Labrador Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Golden Retriever, Vizsla, Brittany Spaniel, German Short-haired Pointer, Newfoundland, Keeshond, Collie, and Australian Shepherd.

Group 6 dogs are great watchdogs for their very low reactivity, very high aggression, and very high trainability. These dogs are German Shepherds, Akitas, Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers.




Group 7 dogs have high reactivity, very high aggression, and medium trainability. If that’w what you are looking for, check out terriers, miniature Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds.

Obviously, not every dog in the specified breed will fit the profile, but this gives you a place to start. Check out our breed guides for more information when you are considering adding a four-legged friend. Don’t forget to write in with your comments – let me know if these profiles stack up to what you see in your own dogs! You can leave comments here on the blog or send me an e-mail at [email protected].

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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15 thoughts on “Doggie Profiling”

  1. I love all breeds of dog!! (even “status dogs” – poor things) Having been around them all my life, and i am a dog walker!
    I agree with the categories that my two dogs fall into, my labrador is a gentle loving boy, but can be mad and boisterous with other dogs even though having been neutured, but no aggresion!
    Also my australian shepherd (my first experience of the breed) is just amazing! What an impression she has made on me with the breed, she is SO gentle, loving, brilliant off leash since 12 weeks old (wont leave my side) still outgoing since her accident at 6 months old!

    Also, my english springer spaniel, R.I.P. He was very protective of me after i rescued him from his owner, considering his past, he only loved the woman of the house (me and my mum) but he was gorgeous! i enjoyed everyday with him, he was so eager to learn, even at the age of 7, learnt tricks, off leash, and socialised with other dogs. although it was only a year we were together, i learnt so much from my 1st dog! Love you Smudge! Xxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Don’t be fooled by the easy going laid back look of the bloodHOUND.They are high energy dogs that need constant supervision and plenty of exercise. Don;t get me wrong, they are the best pets in the world , they are just BIG puppies until they are about 3 years old. They need and give affection,love kids, and greet guests(wanted or unwanted) with big slobbery kisses!!!! As far as trainability goes they will have you eating out of their paws in no time!!!! Got to love them!

  3. Very interesting article.

    As for Pit Bulls – The breed themselves are not the monsters people portray them to be. They get a bad rap because the gang–banger, criminal, thug types are attracted to them and they breed and train them towards aggression. Any breed dog that has strength, game and go can be taken advantage of by we humans.

    Terriers in general – Most are true terriers and act like terriers. Though a few are called terriers, they don’t even share many of the same genetic backgrounds as the majority of terriers… Like the Boston Terrier for example. Rat Terrier, Jack Russell, whatever terrier out there – if they are bred from sound lineage, they won’t have a lot of the aggression issues. But you can’t lump all Rat Terriers into the same category either because they are not all bred the same. Some are true terrier acting with a lot of prey drive.

    For me, there is nothing greater than a well bred terrier!


  4. Boxers? No way. I’m genuinely surprised to hear Boxers are in the 3rd group. I would have never guessed they were ANYTHING but Group 5. I’ve NEVER EVER heard anyone say Boxers are bad with kids. My Boxer, as high strung as she is, has been around kids her whole long life and still loves kids almost as much as bacon. Whenever there are kiddos at the dog park or on the playground they are her favorite playmates and babies in strollers are not allowed to pass without a little kiss. My neighbor’s Boxer loves playing with the kids also, and the parents of Boxers I meet all say the same thing, and all the research we did on Boxers said they were WONDERFUL family dogs. My dog has never bitten anyone (minus the vet that time they had to stick needles in her butt but no one blamed her there) and I could not even recommend a better dog for a family with small children and we’d always heard Boxers are easily trained. I DID IT MYSELF AT 10-YEARS-OLD!!

    And Pit Bulls are very similar to many other Terriers. Please don’t discriminate. There’s no such thing as a bad Dog, only a bad owner.

  5. I have a Samoyed, an Alaskan Husky and a Bichon Frise. My dogs seem to be the exact opposite of the descriptions in the article. Sampson, the Samoyed, needs the most affection, he loves to play and has low to medium aggression. He is excellent with my 6 year old daughter. Aspen, the Alaskan Husky, is probably most comparable to a Siberian Husky and she too is nothing like the article. She needs LOTS of affection has very low aggression and would let my daughter do anything to her, if we allowed it. Our Bichon Frise, Donte, is the most aggressive out of the 3. But, we have only had him for a week and a half. All of our dogs were shelter dogs and I’m guessing that has a lot to do with the major differences.

  6. There are at least 29 different terriers. Don’t think it’s fair to place them all into one general group called “terrier”. They are as different in temperment as they are in size and shape. I have Rat Terriers and know several other people who do as well. This breed is known for being highly trainable with very low aggression. They are great with kids and other animals. Definitely wouldn’t consider them comperable to a Pit Bull Terrier.

  7. I disagree about Great Danes being “high aggression.” Though they may be protective of their households, they are by NO means aggressive – rather, Danes tend to be incredibly docile animals. IMHO, they are more or less like a less fluffy version of the St. Bernard Nana of Peter Pan.

  8. Treasure – I think you may have misunderstood. The hounds are in group 2, which is known for not reacting badly to children and for having very low aggression. Thanks for writing!


  10. Kerry – Sounds like you had a really terrible experience, but please don’t let this turn you off of breeders forever! There are many people out there who really, truly care about the good of their pups.

    As you noted, it’s always important to read the contract because each breeder inserts different contracts. If only you knew now what you knew then!

    I don’t know any Australian Shepard breeders, but I do know several people who breed, and they maintain strong relationships with their adoptive families. It would be nice if we could tell upfront who’s good and who’s not.

    As far as aggression, if you find any “cures” let me know, as I am also dealing with the problem.

    Good luck!

  11. 8 months ago I traveled to the east coast to buy a replacement for the Australian Shepherd I had lost to cancer. I thought I was dealing with a reputable breeder. The puppy was 10 weeks old when we brought her home and everyone loved her. Soon I experienced a very aggressive attitude when I tried to walk her. The trainer at the puppy class refused to believe that she was anything but perfect. I tried to tell them that she was a different dog at home. Eight months later I am having her evaluated as possibly an aggressive dog. She charges strangers that come to our home and even turns on us if we get in her way. I read the contract in total for the first time, stupid, and it says if the dog is deemed unsafe by 2 out of 3 trainers befor the age of one year the breeder wil uthenize and replace the dog. We are devisated because we , I feel I let her down by not insisting on help at 12 weeks. Beware of breeders.

  12. Hello every poodle lover out there!
    I have a baby girl named Ruby. She is my heart and I love her dearly. She is a wheat-champaigne colored toy poodle. She is the friendliest little girl you could ever want to meet. When I became her mommie, I did not have her fixed and now she is six years old and I am looking for a mate for her.

    Does anyone know of a male toy poodle who is ready to mate? Please email me at [email protected].
    We can exchange vet info health record info whatever you want. I live in Queens New York. Also if there is a poodle club that gets together in a park please let me know. I drive and can go into Manhattan or any of the other boroughs. Thanks so much and be well and take good care of your pet children.

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