How Can We Help?

Search for working dog conference recordings, articles on health, breeding, socialization and organizational management, webinar recordings and more.

Old Conference Archive Page | View all IWDC 2023 Recordings | View all Breeder's Workshop Colorado Recordings


The effect of maternal style on later puppy behavior in Canine Companions dogs – Presented by Brenda Kennedy

One potentially vital influence in working dogs’ early development is maternal care, which has been shown to exert lifelong effects on offspring phenotypes in other mammals. Previous studies of maternal style in guide dogs and military working dogs have found that levels of maternal interaction experienced during the first few weeks of life are directly linked to puppies’ adult behavior and even success in the program up to two years later. Over the past three years, we observed 60 dams and their litters from Canine Companions’ population of purpose-bred service dogs, videotaping behavior over the first three weeks of life. Then, a subset of puppies from each litter (n = 235) participated in behavioral testing around 8 weeks of age. By quantifying individual differences in maternal style experienced and skill demonstrated on a series of tasks, we were able to assess associations between maternal style and the temperament and cognitive characteristics of 8-week-old puppies. We also compared puppies reared in volunteer homes to those reared in a dedicated breeding center (two models commonly employed by working dog agencies) to assess the effect of these rearing environments on puppy development. This study provides critical new data regarding how maternal style influences offspring cognitive and temperamental development, and the effect of early rearing environment on maternal care and puppy phenotypes. Ultimately, these findings have the potential to inform best practices in breeding and rearing dogs with aptitude for working roles while optimizing dog welfare.

This content is for members only. Please login or register to view it.

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 5 stars
5 Stars 0%
4 Stars 0%
3 Stars 0%
2 Stars 0%
1 Stars 0%
Please Share Your Feedback
How Can We Improve This Article?
Table of Contents