Ch. Jojo, an American Alsatian
For 12,000 years dogs have
enjoyed the position of man's best friend. Through our close relationship with each other, it seems that dogs have evolved to reveal a new kind of intelligence. Scientists are just now finding that our loyal companions can perform tasks that not even chimps can do. Dogs can effectively read our emotions and have adapted to closely watch and interpret our movements and body language. According to recent scientific evidence, dogs have the equivalent abilities of understanding up to the level of a 2 year old child. Some dogs can learn as many as 1000 different words and even interpret those words from graphic representations.
Photo Credit: Manuel Orellana
Inherited Temperament in the Dog
Highly submissive dogs are described as easily corrected and will drop down to the floor possibly releasing urine and/or rolling on its back. They bend to the will of another with ease. In contrast, fiercely dominant dogs are described as being strong-willed and assertive. They do not back down easily and maintain a level of assertiveness especially when confronted.
A friendly dog is outgoing and willing to meet and greet at any time. They can be seen wagging their tail and panting in seeming happiness to have another's attention. An indifferent dog is uninterested in other people or dogs, but when approached will show a slight wag of tail or movement to be pet. Although uninterested, they are not afraid and will politely accept affection from others. In our experience, there are two types of aggression that are often used interchangeably; inherited and environmental. Dogs that inherit aggressive temperaments are completely uninterested in other people and dogs. An aggressive dog will first stare then raise its hackles if approached. If an approach continues it will bare its teeth and ultimately lunge forward in an effort to get another to back off. This type of aggression is not to be confused with nervousness, although they can co-exist.
A confident dog is one that does not react to sudden, unexpected events. It is self-assured in almost any situation. It will readily investigate people or situations that are unfamiliar. A nervous (shy) dog, on the other hand, does not want to investigate. It will turn or hide its eyes from the unfamiliar situation and can sulk, pout, or want to hide when scolded. Nervous dogs hold their tails low or between their legs and pull back their ears as they lower their head. They are cautious of new things and can be seen as shy of dogs, people or environments, each of which can be inherited separately. In severe cases, nervousness can manifest itself as aggression, fear-biting, urination and uncontrollable shaking. Most dogs have some level of nervousness.
Bonded dogs are those dogs that innately desire close territory as well as a desire to please and do what is asked by their owners. Some would replace the word bonded with loyal, although this trait is more than just loyalty, but also includes a genetic desire for a tight, close or familiar territory. Independent, in contrast, is a dog that has a very broad idea of territory such as a herd protection dog and a desire to do whatever is most beneficial to them at the moment. They do not mind being out of sight of their owners and can roam far and wide if allowed. They do not have a desire to please, but only tend to want to have their own way. When off leash, they are reluctant to return unless the reward is higher than their off leash interests.
Relaxed dogs spend the majority of the time sleeping and resting. They do not require much exercise. Hyperactive dogs are always on the move physically; digging, chewing, running, chasing, and exploring.
Dogs that are oblivious are unaware of their surroundings. They do not look around and take in the happenings in their environment very well. They are impulsive and can be seen as extremely goofy dogs. Some may bark constantly seemingly for no reason. Alert dogs, in contrast, are aware of all that surrounds them. They can be described as a dog that pays attention. They hear the slightest noise and see the slightest movement. Alert dogs make good watch dogs.
This category holds both play and prey as they are closely related to one another. A low drive dog does not initiate play on its own but has to be coaxed. It does not have a tendency to chase moving objects and playing fetch may seem uninteresting. The dominant trait of the high drive dog, on the other hand, chases moving objects readily. They pounce, grab, shake, and tug on toys. Fetch is a simple task that they perform with ease. They can stay focused on an object for an extended time and do not tire of play easily.
A hard dog can take a lot of pressure on the leash and a lot of force to its body without reacting. A dog of this type does not acknowledge soft touch and prefers to be handled with deep pressure and lots of manipulation such as lifting and rolling. Touch sensitive dogs do not need much pressure to react and respond to very light touch.
Dogs that are not sound sensitive are not bothered by loud noises of any kind. Sound sensitive dogs are bothered by loud noises and may become very agitated and/or fearful. Clawing, whining, barking, howling, running away, shaking, and hiding under beds, etc. are all signs of sound sensitiveness. Although nervousness is a part of this category, a confident dog can easily be sound sensitive and exhibit fear of thunderstorms, gun shots, and other sudden loud noises. This is different than a dog exhibiting nervousness in unknown situations.
Dogs that possess a high pain threshold do not seem to feel much pain. This type of dog may not exhibit any outward signs that it is hurt or sick. When shots are given, this dog does not yelp out or show any discomfort. In contrast, a dog with a low pain threshold will yelp and cry easily when in pain. After the cause of the pain as stopped, a dog with a low threshold for pain may continue to exhibit behaviors of continued pain. This inherited temperament trait should not be confused with a hard dog. A hard dog, although oblivious to light touch and pressure can easily yelp and/or whine when in real pain.
The Temperament of the American Alsatian
When we have a clear and consistent vocabulary to discuss dog temperament as a starting reference, we can more easily describe the temperament of the dogs being bred under the Dire Wolf Project. As described in the Breeding Back article, the National American Alsatian Breeder's Association does not wish to recreate the wild Dire Wolf temperament, but a domesticated dog with the exact Dire Wolf body and bond structure as they are portrayed in skeletal remains. We must, then, establish a temperament in a large breed of dog that can live happily in our modern age. We, therefore, seek to establish the first companion dog temperament in a large breed of dog. We wish to eliminate all large breed working behaviors such as barking, digging, jumping, chewing, chasing, and pacing. This is being accomplished through selective breeding.
The following chart is a graphic representation of the temperament of the purebred American Alsatian in its RAW dog™ state in accordance to the American Alsatian standards of the breed.
All truebred (F5 - F18) American Alsatians have a consistent temperament and each puppy born above the 5th generation possesses a very similar temperament to the above with a slight range in variation of one point on either side.
Canine Body Language. Brenda Aloff. Dogwise. Retrieved: 2012-05-30.