In documentary films on wolves, lions or other canines, we notice that each pack has its own organization. There is always this leader “Alfa”, more imposing than the others, and more authoritarian in front of the rest of the group. In dogs, there is also forms of hierarchy where each of them has their own social status.
Scientists conducted a study to see the link between personality of a dog and his status. They investigated what traits and behaviors can form the forms of hierarchy and ranking of dogs. For this research, questionnaires were answered by several dog owners around the world.
A certain form of competition is established between animals to access limited resources. Having a higher status in the pack can have very important consequences for survival. The results of the study showed that the hierarchical social status of dogs is related to their character and their age.
A dog’s personality can explain his social status!
A questionnaire was designed by the researchers to measure the personality traits of companion dogs. Then, the social rank of these dogs in other groups of dogs was the subject of a comparative study. About 615 owners having more than two pet dogs responded to this questionnaire across the world.
The research came up with some interesting findings. The status of a dog in its hierarchy is really conditioned by his personality ! Grades were assigned to the hounds according to their Personality traits. The characteristics considered are: friendliness, affection, extroversion, openness, conscientiousness and nervousness.
Dogs more extroverted, open and more aware are animals more dominant in the social group. dogs more kind and affectionate are less dominant in their family. Nervousness, on the other hand, has no connection with dominance in the canine hierarchy.
The lack of competition between domestic dogs is a problem
The results of the studies suggested that age is also an explanatory variable of the hierarchical social status of the dog. The hierarchy of dogs can be explained by the fact that older dogs are less pleasant and affectionate. Indeed, the older dogs are more dominant and less pleasant. The dogs very nice and younger are less dominant in their family.
The animals must compete among themselves to survive because resources are limited. Keeping this dominance status would be an advantage for them. But the competition for resources is less present in groups of domestic dogs, because the owner distributes it. Researchers do not yet fully understand how social hierarchies are formed without competition for resources. But they know that dog personality traits have something to do with it.
“Family dog personalities have a complex relationship with the hierarchy of the group and the rank of each dog. Further research is needed to uncover the causal relationships that may exist between personality traits and rank. »
Ethologist Péter Pongracz, principal investigator of the study