Just like humans, each dog's personality is unique.
Every dog you meet will have a personality of its own. Although each dog may exhibit and show more than one type, generally speaking, a dominant type will typically show through more than others.
Understanding the differences in these different personality traits can help you better comprehend how your dog functions. Whether you’re trying to train your dog or trying to get a handle on problematic behaviors, we must treat each personality in a specific way.
On average, there are five unique personalities found in dogs.
However, these personality traits can become altered based on their breed (meaning they have breed-specific personalities) and interactions with their owner’s personalities.
We listed below five traditional personalities found within the canine world. This list will help you better understand how your dog might view the world around it.
The Confident Dog' Personality
This dog is usually found to be a naturally born leader. He will effortlessly control and take charge of any situation, although he likes to be a team player among his peers.
The confident dog may also display dominant behaviors on occasion. This confidence helps him lead the pack and can maintain the alpha status.
Dominance is not always a sign of aggression, especially when trying to compare a pack mentality.
Reacting aggressively and roughly to a confident dog or trying to assert your own dominance may result in outward mistrust, aggression, and even aggression toward you.
Always maintain positive reinforcement training methods when dealing with a confident dog and watch him flourish when facing challenges.
The Independent Dog' Personality
This dog struggles with bonding to anyone they don’t see as a leader, especially as they tend to think, act, and live independently of others.
They will typically bond most strongly to one specific person and often will be less enthusiastic with others.
At times, they can come across as standoffish with people or other dogs, but it’s because they enjoy and thrive being on their own.
Training can prove difficult with an Independent, especially without the right motivation. Some dogs can be food motivated, whereas others will only perform if they believe it’s in their best interest.
More often than not, these dogs would much rather do what they want to do, thinking for themselves than listen to what you have to say.
The independent dog doesn’t particularly enjoy social situations, and trying to force these behaviors with one may cause aggression to manifest.
In human terms, it’s the equivalent of trying to get an introvert to be the center of attention and life of the party in a large crowd.
The Happy and Laid-Back Dog' Personality
The happy dog will often come across as overly enthusiastic, especially when meeting new friends (whether canine or people).
They are the stereotypical dog that would sooner lick an intruder to death than to cause harm. Typically, these dogs get along with almost anyone, from people to cats and everything in between.
The downside to this personality is its excessive and overly enthusiastic nature.
They tend to jump on people (thanks to their excitement at having another friend) and often accidentally scare children or seniors who aren’t used to their “larger than life” personality.
These dogs will need plenty of training to teach them good manners, especially when greeting people and children.
These dogs perform best when it comes to attention and food-based reinforcement, although play can be another strong motivator.
An Adapting Dog's Personality
This dog has one goal in life: to make sure he pleases in almost any environment. He can keep his excitement and enthusiasm in check, especially if he knows it will please his owner.
Unlike the Happy personality, these dogs are the perfect combination of easy-going personalities with a strong desire to please.
They can make excellent therapy or working dogs due to their high levels of intelligence, and training them is simple.
Often, these dogs are the easiest to train because the thrill of satisfying their owner is more than any other reward you could offer.
The adapting dog usually is quite loving and affectionate and can closely bond with several family members.
The Scaredy Cat and Timid Dog' Personality
Dogs, like people, can be pretty timid and nervous when faced with new situations, people, or environments.
What makes a timid dog spiral is being forced into new or uncomfortable situations, which may cause a negative response.
If not properly managed, these new experiences can escalate into feelings of mistrust. The shy dog will typically avoid loud or chaotic environments, becoming fearful, aggressive, or distraught without the proper reassurance.
These dogs thrive on attention and comfort that they are safe and secure. Often, praise, encouragement, and slow introductions prove to be the best training methods to avoid overwhelming the pup.
They organize these personalities into seven groups, dependent on the common traits often found with those dogs.
If you can determine the dog’s breed, there’s a good chance you’ll have a solid understanding of the primary personality.
Herding Dog Personalities
These dogs are more often than not the ultimate family pet, which is precisely why they’re so popular among families and individuals equally.
They are fast to learn and quick to obedience. They are often brilliant dogs, able to carry themselves with confidence. The herding personality is an active breed, with many dogs requiring high levels of activity.
They are incredibly devoted and will often stand against potential family threats to protect the ones they love.
Sporting Dog's Personality
Traditionally known for their hunting capabilities, these dogs are highly trainable and make excellent companion animals.
They love to play and exercise, thriving on mental and physical stimulation. Their devotion and loyalty are often a major plus for many families, which is why they are incredibly popular with children.
Most sporting dogs have a strong level of focus and determination, especially when attempting new activities. They are fun-loving and affectionate but are not always the type to remain underfoot.
Hound Personality Traits
The hound personality often packs a big personality into a small body, making these dogs exceptionally popular.
Known for being happy and loving, the hound will always try to entertain their family. They are brave and loyal but also have a strong desire to hunt. Their smell and prey drive can prove a bit distracting.
These dogs enjoy and thrive being with family and other dogs, making them social and affectionate.
They can be a bit stubborn when trying to train them, especially if you can’t convince them that your request is to their benefit.
Non-Sporting Dog's Personality
Often known as stubborn, extremely determined, and occasionally a bit silly, these dogs are fantastic family dogs known for being friendly and playful.
Some breeds in this group can be lazy, primarily when they’re also known for their bulky and short stature.
The majority of these dogs are highly trainable, although the higher the level of stubbornness, the more you’re going to have to convince your dog to follow through. These dogs are moderately athletic, although they wouldn’t turn down a nap on the couch either.
Terrier Dog's Personality
While these dogs can be pretty stubborn, they’re exceptionally skilled at athletics, hunting, and overall excellent family dogs.
They can often become protective of the home and their family, making them a powerful addition to any house.
These dogs do well with children if raised with them from a young age and adapt an easy-going personality overall.
This breed is typically a versatile breed that can fluctuate based on the owner’s needs.
Working Dog's Personality
Known for being dependable, these dogs thrive when giving a job to do. They are often seen as powerful and stoic, with many thriving as guard dogs (although their size is more of a deterrent than their aggression).
Working dogs are known for being more docile and having a friendly nature. They can be protective and can occasionally get nervous around new people outside of their family unit.
Toy Dog's Personality
Known as the smallest dogs with the largest personalities, these dogs are full of spunk. Toy breeds can be stubborn, spoiled, and often quite sassy. These dogs love being in charge.
They can be loyal and affectionate with an easy-going personality overall. These dogs are pretty small in size and should be watched closely with children.
Many of these toy dogs bond beautifully with their human owners, although they can occasionally get aggressive around food, toys, and possessions.
This typically occurs when an owner coddles and spoils the dog.
How do owners influence their dog’s behavior?
Whether you intend to or not, every interaction you have with your dog teaches them the key and critical pieces of personality.
That means if you’re rewarding your dog for barking (by petting him and telling him to stop, for example), you’re teaching him acceptable behaviors within the home.
In fact, many studies have proven a dog will typically adapt and adopt its owner’s behavior over time. This includes aggression, fear, calm behaviors, reactionary behavior, and more.
How Do I Influence My Dog’s Personality?
One of the easiest ways for an owner to influence a dog’s personality is through training, discipline, and lifestyle choices.
An owner who chooses to use physical punishment may teach their dog to mistrust and fear humans (even those within the family unit).
Likewise, an owner that often spoils the dog with food and treats without working for it may teach the dog that he doesn’t have to work for rewards.
Finally, more often than not, owners of little dogs (typically found in the toy breed personality) will pamper and cater to their dogs, regardless of their size.
Because of this catering, the dog may become spoiled and nippy with other people. They can forget how to socialize with other dogs and people properly.
Studies have shown that those owners who rated themselves as agreeable and positive also reported their dogs as less fearful. Their dogs are less aggressive toward people or other animals.
While this doesn’t tell us its owner exclusively influences a dog’s personality, it does set the motion that dogs are receptive and empathetic to their human companion. I
n other words, dogs will develop a personality to match or mimic their owner based on what they see and feel.
What Are The Easiest Personality Traits a Dog Can Learn From Its Owner?
An owner's training directly affects a dog's personality traits like fear, aggression, mistrust, and anxiety.
If the dog has learned to mistrust his owner through cause-and-effect motions, there is a more substantial likelihood that he will continue to mistrust humans and avoid socialization with them in the future.
Exposing a dog to a wide variety of socialization, positive experiences, and overall beneficial experiences will likely help them remain trusting. They will be social, friendly, and loving toward their human family and other humans moving forward.
You Can Reverse Learned Behaviors And a Dog's Personality
In short, yes. Through exposure, positive experiences, praise, and socialization, most dogs can undo the negative personality traits.
Older dogs will typically have a more challenging time changing their personality, but it can happen with persistence.
Using positive reinforcement and exposure can significantly impact a dog’s outlook. It would help if you let your dog adapt and grow through difficult situations. They can learn to overcome any negative personality traits this way.
Overall, just as our experiences shape us, dogs can also be significantly influenced by similar situations.