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Wesensbeurteilung Test - Temperament Assessment of Puppies

The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) stands out as one of the most versatile breeds globally. German Shepards may be selected to fulfill their duty as reliable service dogs, or to participate in a wide range of dog sports, whilst being a beloved family member at the same time. The breed’s exceptional traits, such as intelligence, loyalty, confidence and determination, contribute to its widespread popularity. Sadly, the increasing demand for German Shepherds has occasionally led to indiscriminate breeding which threatens the conservation of the Shepard’s exceptional genetic resources.

The GSD Club of Germany - known as Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV) - has taken a lead in safeguarding the German Shepard’s breed characteristics. In 2016, the Breed Harmonization Program was introduced which is since being implemented worldwide through clubs affiliated with the World Union of German Shepard Associations. A critical component of this program is the temperament assessment of German Shepherd puppies between the ages of 9 and 13 months, called the Character Assessment or WB (Wesensbeurteilung) Test. It is important to note that the requirements for the WB Test are there to the benefit of the breed. A full overview of the WUSV breeding program can be found on the WUSV website.

An innate combination of instincts, threshold levels, and traits defines a dog’s temperament. It is the dog’s genetics, not the training received, that determines its temperament. One of the most common shortcomings in the German Shepard breed is a weak nervous system, resulting in undesirable behaviors. The dog’s nervous system is the “control center” that regulates everything from automatic functions like breathing and metabolic regulation to higher order thinking which gives the dog their unique personality and behaviors. The Breed Harmonization Program aims to produce bloodlines with a strong nervous system so to ensure a trustworthy, well-behaved canine companion. A well-bred dog with strong nerves is a pleasure to live with.

In the WB test, an expert assessor meticulously observes how individual puppies respond to different stimuli that may trigger or provoke a particular behavior. The evaluation of these behaviors is based on certified standards. Each puppy may react differently, and the assessor provides comments based on how well these align with expected behaviors of German Shepherd puppies and what they reveal about the puppy’s temperament. Crucially, the assessment doesn’t involve awarding points or setting a pass mark. The WB test serves as a foundational step for more advanced requirements, primarily intended for German Shepherd breeders.

The WB Test consists of the following elements:

  1. Impartiality Test: Examination of the dog’s behavior during an ID check, including microchip inspection, teeth examination, testicle check for males, and measurements of height, chest depth, and circumference.

  2. Social behavior: Assessment of the relationship between the dog and handler through role-playing, observation of the dog’s behavior in a group of people and an encounter with a foreign dog to gauge social cohesion.

  3. Noise sensitivity: Testing with various acoustic stimuli, including a sound source from a motor, and a chain dropped into a metal bucket, as well as a gunshot. This assessment appraises the dog’s reaction to different noises, including noise phobias (like fear of thunderstorms), and its ability to independently investigate relevant noise sources.

  4. Certainty of Movement: Evaluation of play readiness under increased stress and motion sensitivity, including performing tasks on a rocking platform, instinctual aim on the rocking platform, and height sensitivity.

  5. Play and predatory instinct/behavior under stress (inside and outside): Assessment of the dog’s play with its handler, observation of the dog’s play with the Assessor’s assistant (stranger to the dog) and evaluation of the intensity of the dog at the blocked prey (toy placed under a bread crate).

  6. Basic nature: An Isolation test where the dog is left alone for at least 5 minutes, tied outside, away from the test area, as well as an encounter between an unknown person and his/her dog.

In the WB test, handler and dog should be seen to work in partnership; no harsh/threatening commands or physical corrections are to be given. Commands are limited to the most necessary so the puppy can feel free to show its natural behavior. A negative rating, “Assessment Cancelled”, can only be pronounced if the dog displays traits such as being highly aggressive in peaceful situations, or when extreme anxiety is observed at any point during the assessment.

The WB Test is an engaging experience for German Shepherd owners. It provides valuable insights into the puppy’s temperament and behavior, which aids in making informed decisions about training requirements and approaches. The assessment offers vital information regarding the puppy’s suitability for activities such as obedience, tracking, agility, and breeding.

To qualify for the Breed Survey, the WB Test is mandatory for all German Shepherds born on or after July 1st, 2017. Six young dogs at K9Force have already successfully completed the WB test in the past two years. From our experience, the WB test is a valuable and fun assessment which helps us to develop the best training for our beloved canine team members.


K9Force (2023, December). Wesensbeurteilung Test - Temperament Assessment of Puppies

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