Behaviour 2019
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The personality of companion dogs shows a complex association with their social rank dynamics
Kata Vékony, Fruzsina Prónik, Péter Pongrácz. Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, , Hungary

Hierarchy among dogs, often regarded as the consistent outcome of the various competitive interactions, can be influenced by the variable levels of resource-related motivation of the individuals. Variability in motivation level can be caused by the personality and life experience differences.
Our aim was to find out which personality traits can be associated with the rank of family dogs in multidog households.
We used an online survey that included questions about the cohabiting dogs’ everyday interactions to assess their rank and the Canine BFI instrument. 595 owners completed the questionnaire for 1044 dogs.
We found positive association between dogs’ rank and their age: older dogs were more likely dominant. Also we found positive association with some BFI factors: Conscientiousness, Extraversion/Energy and Openness/Intelligence, and negative association with Agreeableness/Affection. We found no association between dominance and Neuroticism.
Our results support the notion that dogs’ personality – which is composed of their temperament and environmental effects – plays a key role in the development of their relationship with other dogs, thus in the formation of social hierarchy.