Briarlea Bouvier Kennel - this is the evaluation form we use for our companion puppies.  For working or performance puppies we have other, more involved evaluation tools ~ We have found over the approximately 30 years we've been using this test that it is only one of a number of ways to evaluate puppies.

              Volhard's Puppy Aptitude Test





Social Attraction: 

Place the puppy in test area. From a few feet away the testor coaxes the pup to her/him by clapping hands gently and kneeling down.Testor must coax in a direction away from the point where it entered the testing area. 

Degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence.Degree of social attraction, confidence or dependence. 

1. Came readily, tail up, jumped, bit at hands
2. Came readily, tail up, pawed, liked at hands.
3. Came readily, tail up.
4. Came readily, tail down.
5. Came hesitantly, tail down.
6. Did not come at all or went away.


Stand up and walk away from the pup in a normal manner. Make sure the pup sees you walk away. 

 Degree of following attraction. Not following indicates independence. 

1. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot, bit at     feet.
2. Followed readily, tail up, got underfoot.
3. Followed readily, tail up.
4. Followed readily, tail down.
5. Followed hesitantly, tail down.
6. No following, or went away. 


Crouch down and gently roll the pup on his back and hold it with one hand for a full 30 seconds. 

Degree of dominant or submissive tendency. How it accepts stress when socially and/or physically dominated.  1. Struggled fiercely, flailed, bit.
2. Struggled fiercely, flailed.
3. Settled, struggled, settled with some eye contact.
4. Struggled, then settled.
5. No struggle.
6. No struggle, straining to avoid eye contact. 
Social Dominance: 

Let pup stand up and gently stroke him from the head to back while you crouch beside him. Continue stroking until a recognizable behavior is established. 

Degree of acceptance of social dominance pup may try to dominate by jumping and nipping or it is independent and walks away.  1. Jumped, pawed, bit growled.
2. Jumped, pawed.
3. Cuddles up to testor and tries to lick face.
4. Squirmed, licked at hands.
5. Rolled over, licked at hands.
6. Went away and stayed away. 

* is passive

Elevation Dominance: 

Bend over and cradle the pup under its belly, fingers interlaced, palms up and elevate just off the ground. Hold it there for 30 seconds. 

Degree of accepting dominance while in position of no control.  1. Struggled fiercely, bit growled.
2. Struggled fiercely.
3. No struggle, relaxed.
4. Struggled, settled, licked.
5. No struggled, licked at hands.
6. No struggle, froze. 






Crouch beside pup and attract its attention with crumpled up paper ball. When the pup shows interest and is watching, toss the object 1 to 2 meters in front of pup. 

Degree of willingness to work with a human. High correlation between ability to retrieve and successful guide dogs, obedience dogs, field trial dogs.  1. Chases object, picks up object and runs away.
2. Chases object, stands over object, does not return.
3. Chases object and returns with object to testor.
4. Chases object and returns without object to testor.
5. Starts to chase object, loses interest.
6. Does not chase object. 
Touch Sensitivity: 

Take puppy’s webbing of one front foot and press between finger and thumb lightly, then more firmly till you get a response, while you count slowly to 10. Stop as soon as puppy pulls away or shows discomfort.  

Degree of sensitivity to touch.  1.  8 - 10 seconds before response.
2.  6 - 7 seconds before response.
3.  5 - 6 seconds before response.
4.  3- 4 seconds before response.
5.  1 - 2 seconds before response. 
Sound Sensitivity: 

Place pup in centre of area. Testor of assistant makes a sharp noise a few feet from the puppy. A large metal spoon struck sharply on a metal pan twice works well. 

Degree of sensitivity to sound (also a rudimentary test for deafness).  1. Listens, locates sound, walks towards it barking.
2. Listens, locates sound, barks.
3. Listens, locates sound, and walks there curiously.
4. Listens, locates sound.
5. Cringes, backs off, hides.
6. Ignores sound, shows no curiosity. 
Sight Sensitivity: 

Place pup in centre of room. Tie a string around a large towel and jerk it across the floor a few feet away from the puppy.  

Degree of intelligent response to strange object.   1. Looks, attacks and bites.
2. Looks, barks and tail up.
3. Looks curiously, attempts to investigate.
4. Looks, barks, tail-tuck.
5. Runs away, hides. 

The puppy is gently set in a natural stance and evaluated for structure in the following categories: 

Degree of structural soundness. Good:  The puppy is correct in structure.
Fair:  The puppy has a slight fault or deviation.
Poor: The puppy has an extreme fault of deviation. 
Teeth/Belly Common puppy problems which may naturally correct. Has normal dentition.
Has over or under bite.
Has umbilical hernia.

Interpreting the Scores

Mostly 1's  A puppy that consistently scores a 1 in the temperament section of the test is an extremely dominant, aggressive puppy who can easily be provoked to bite.  His dominant nature will attempt to resist human leadership, thus requiring only the most experienced of handlers.  This puppy is a poor choice for most individuals and will do best in a working situation as a guard or police dog.

Mostly 2's This pup is dominant and self-assured.  He can be provoked to bite; however he readily accepts human leadership that is firm, consistent and knowledgeable.  This is not a dog for a tentative, indecisive individual.  In the right hands, he has the potential to become a fine working or show dog and could fit into an adult household, provided the owners know what they are

Mostly 3's  This pup is outgoing and friendly and will adjust well in situations in which he receives regular training and exercise.  He has a flexible temperament that adapts well to different types of environment, provided he is handled correctly.  May be too much dog for a family with small children or an elderly couple who are sedentary.

Mostly 4's   A pup that scores a majority of 4's is an easily controlled, adaptable puppy whose submissive nature will make him continually look to his master for leadership.  This pup is easy to train, reliable with kids, and, though he lacks self-confidence, makes a high-quality family pet.   He is usually less outgoing than a pup scoring in the 3's, but his demeanor is gentle and affectionate.

Mostly 5's This is a pup who is extremely submissive and lacking in self- confidence.  He bonds very closely with his owner and requires regular companionship and encouragement to bring him out of himself.  If handled incorrectly, this pup will grow up very shy and fearful.  For this reason, he will do best in a predictable, structured lifestyle with owners who are patient and not overly demanding, such as an elderly couple.

Mostly 6's  A puppy that scores 6 consistently is independent and uninterested in people.  He will mature into a dog who is not demonstrably affectionate and who has a low need for human companionship.   In general, it is rare to see properly socialized pups test this way; however there are several breeds that have been bred for specific tasks (such as basenjis, hounds, and some northern breeds) which can exhibit this level of independence.  To perform as intended, these dogs require a singularity of purpose that is not compromised by strong attachments to their owner.

*  *  *

The remainder of the puppy test is an evaluation of obedience aptitude and working ability and provides a general picture of a pup's intelligence, spirit, and willingness to work with a human being.  For most owners, a good companion dog will score in the 3 to 4 range in this section of the test. Puppies scoring a combination of 1's and 2's require experienced handlers who will be able to draw the best aspects of their potential from them.

Important note from Wendy Volhard...regarding the Touch Sensitivity test - Do not use your fingernail when performing this test. Press between the finger and thumb lightly then more firmly until you get a response.

Developed by Joachim and  Wendy Volhard. Copyright 1996 Wendy Volhard.