Published on May 8, 2013 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner
Some new research which looks at differences in the behavioral characteristics of dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores compared to those obtained from noncommercial breeders has produced some disturbing results. The research appears in theJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Associationand was conducted by Utah veterinarian Frank McMillan from the Best Friends Animal Society and a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Veterinarians have long complained that dogs purchased from pet stores are much more likely to suffer from health problems than those obtained from breeders. This has led to banning the sale of dogs in pet stores in many venues around North America. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet stores come from what the industry calls "puppy farms" but the rest of the world calls "puppy mills". In most of these establishments dogs are reared much the same way that farmers rear chickens to be used for food. The animals are often kept in wire cages and they are not removed even to allow them to eliminate. The dogs get virtually no socialization or personal attention from human beings. Anyone who knows anything about the psychological development of dogs would doubtless predict that this is a bad situation and is apt to produce many behavioral problems in the dog's later life. However, although various studies have looked at health differences between pet store and breeder purchased puppies, there is little information about psychological differences between dogs obtained from these two sources.
This recent study looked at 413 dogs obtained from pet stores and contrasted them to 5657 dogs obtained from breeders. The idea was to compare dogs that are purebred and all obtained as puppies at approximately the same age.
Behavioral measures were obtained using an online version of the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ). This is a 100 item questionnaire which was developed by James Serpell, who is one of the researchers on this team. It is one of the best known, and most carefully validated questionnaires that assesses a dog's behavioral characteristics. It is based on the owner's observations of their dogs’ typical responses to a variety of everyday situations during the recent past. It looks at a variety of different aspects of canine behavior, including characteristics like trainability, excitability, various aspects of sociability, fearfulness and a variety of expressions of aggressiveness.
The data clearly shows that dogs purchased from pet stores appear to be less psychologically sound overall. On 12 out ....Read More