Genetics Matter - and its not just for health!
While we won't get into the breeder vs rescue debate, we fully believe in the power and importance of genetics. We are currently working with UC Davis on the first ever Hanoverian Scenthound genetic study. From this, we hope to organize the most common genetic tests needed for this noble, medieval breed. Until that is completed, we will continue to use Embark for genetic testing for every litter we have. As far as breed recognition - Embark returns a "European Mountain Dog" as a result. I have asked Embark to allow us to help them create an accurate database for the Hanoverian, but they were not interested. As it relates to temperament, drive, personality, environmental soundness, and social-ability; we pay just as much attention to these traits as we do health.
We are ensuring all our breeding dogs are also scanned/x-rayed for hips, elbows, heart and eyes and submitted to the OFA/PennHip for ratings. As those ratings come in, they will be recorded under their profiles on our website.
Why do genetics matter? (Jennifer Summerfield, DVM)
Since the 1940s, studies in canine behavioral genetics have consistently shown that traits such as fearfulness, impulsivity, problem-solving ability, working drive, and even tendencies toward aggression are strongly influenced by breeding. Socialization and early learning can certainly help to sway things in one direction or another, but these forces are operating on a pre-existing genetic blueprint.
The truth is, your dog’s genetic background plays a tremendous (and often under-valued) role not only in what inborn skills he might have, but in who he is – whether he is friendly or reserved with strangers, tolerant of other pets or not, a high-drive athlete or a snuggly couch potato, easily startled by loud noises or relatively “bombproof.”
Is behavior moldable? Of course it is – to a point. You can only modify what you already have, not create the dog of your choosing from scratch. So if you have specific goals for your pup or need a dog with a certain personality type, it pays to make sure that you’re getting a temperament you can live with!
Please note that none of this should be taken as a defense of breed-specific stereotyping or discrimination, on the theory that certain breeds are bound to be aggressive or otherwise “bad.” There is a tremendous amount of genetic variability within every breed – so much so that it’s not possible to make any reliable predictions about behavior based solely on breed identification. It’s much more valuable to look specifically at the parents and littermates of a particular puppy, or at a certain line of dogs within a breed.
If you have specific personality traits that you need in a dog, don’t choose a puppy based on looks or a cheap purchase price and assume that you can “make it work” – this rarely goes well, in my experience.