Individual behavioural differences in pet dogs are of great interest from a basic and applied research perspective. Most existing dog personality tests have specific (practical) goals in mind and so focused only on a limited aspect of dogs’ personality, such as identifying problematic (aggressive or fearful) behaviours, assessing suitability as working dogs, or improving the results of adoption. Here we aimed to create a comprehensive test of personality in pet dogs that goes beyond traditional practical evaluations by exposing pet dogs to a range of situations they might encounter in everyday life. The Vienna Dog Personality Test (VIDOPET) consists of 15 subtests and was performed on 217 pet dogs. A two-step data reduction procedure (principal component analysis on each subtest followed by an exploratory factor analysis on the subtest components) yielded five factors: Sociability-obedience, Activity-independence, Novelty seeking, Problem orientation, and Frustration tolerance. A comprehensive evaluation of reliability and validity measures demonstrated excellent inter- and intra-observer reliability and adequate internal consistency of all factors. Moreover the test showed good temporal consistency when re-testing a subsample of dogs after an average of 3.8 years—a considerably longer test-retest interval than assessed for any other dog personality test, to our knowledge. The construct validity of the test was investigated by analysing the correlations between the results of video coding and video rating methods and the owners’ assessment via a dog personality questionnaire. The results demonstrated good convergent as well as discriminant validity. To conclude, the VIDOPET is not only a highly reliable and valid tool for measuring dog personality, but also the first test to show consistent behavioural traits related to problem solving ability and frustration tolerance in pet dogs.
Turcsán, B., Wallis, L., Virányi, Z., Range, F., Müller, C. A., Huber, L., & Riemer, S. (2018). Personality traits in companion dogs—Results from the VIDOPET. PLoS ONE, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195448