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Breeding Evaluation

About mental description (MH)

(Information from Swedish working dog club SBK, in swedish)

The Swedish Working Dog Club (SBK) has long developed tests to gain knowledge about the mentality of dogs and we are a forerunner in the field. MH describes and documents behaviors that have been shown by research to be strongly hereditary. The results from the tests both help us to improve our breeding work and the research to better understand the mentality of dogs. MH has also attracted great interest outside of Sweden.


Researchers have in several rounds done extensive investigations on MH, something that has given SBK a unique compilation of all described dogs. The compilations are also a good basis for our breed clubs when the breeding work is to be evaluated.

Doing MH is also a good way for you as a dog owner to get a good picture of who your dog is and how it reacts in different situations.

Requirements for the dog to participate:

  • At least twelve months old

  • Registered in SKK or in a foreign kennel organization recognized by SKK

  • ID marked

  • Vaccinated according to current regulations

  • Be fully healthy and not in heat

  • The dog must not be exposed to doping or other improper conditions (se The Swedish Kennel Club National doping regulations for dogsin swedish)

Requirements for working dog breeds

If you have a working dog breed and want to compete after the dog has turned 18 months, complete service dog training or breed in Sweden, there is a requirement that your dog has undergone an MH. The reason for that is that the Swedish Working Dog Club has a breeding program that places high demands on the working breeds. 

How MH is performed

The description takes about 45 minutes and during that time you go through a course with different stages. The dogs behavior and reactions in the various moments are documented based on an intensity scale in a standardized protocol. When the description is complete, the describer goes through the protocol with you.

It is important to remember that MH is a description of the dog and therefore not a test where it is passed or failed.

Mental descriptor

The dog is described by a mental describer with a solid background. The describer has at least 125 hours of theoretical training as well as a couple of years of practical experience from having participated as an official on a number of mental descriptions.

Rating scale:
Each part is assessed on a scale of 1-5. In general, you can say that the higher the number, the more intensity/reaction the dog shows in the moment. Depending on which moment you may want to see more or less reaction. For example in fear and residual fear, it is preferable that the dog is in the lower scale. While in the social, play and curiosity assessment, it might be preferred if the dog is on the upper scale. Racial traits are often seen on a MH. For example, breeds that have been bred for guardian work may show more intense threatful behaviors when this is put to the test. While a dog of a breed that is not very protective, may not show much or any threat behavior at all. Individual deviations occur of course! Thus, it is very different what is considered a "good" MH or not for each breed and individual.


The describer observes the dogs reactions via contact and cooperation with a strange human. They also look at how the dog allows itself to be handled by a test leader.


The describer looks at the dogs willingness to cooperate with a human by looking at the desire to chase and grab a toy and how engaged it is in the play.

Lust for hunting/Pursuing

The descriptor looks at the dogs interest in following runaway objects, how quickly it starts and what it does with the object when it finds it.


In the activity level section, the describer looks at how the dog behaves in a passive state, where the owner stands completely still with the dog leashed. Dogs react differently here, but it is desirable that dogs can relax in a passive situation even though it has been active just before.


The describer looks at the dogs curiosity, willingness and courage to leave its owner to investigate what has just happened and possibly be active with what may have been perceived as frightening. The dogs interest in initiating or responding to a play invitation with an official at a distance from the owner is also described.

Sound-sensitivity and Gunshot

A sound-sensitive dog does not do well in todays noisy society. Dogs that are afraid of sudden loud noises or are affected by gunshots, often pass this fear on to their offspring. For use in breeding and training, it is important that the dogs are not afraid of noises or bullets. On a MH, it is described how the dog reacts on a loud noise, how willing it is to investigate it and if it has overcome any potential fear of the noise. The dog is also exposed to gunshots on MH, then its described whether the dog is affected by gunshots, both during play with the owner and in a passive state.


It can be rational for the dog to become afraid if it is exposed to a sudden threat, such as in a moment when an human-formed suit is suddenly pulled up in front of the dog. It is also important that the fear goes away when the surprise/threat ends and that the dog relaxes and maybe even shows curiosity about what happened. This, as well as how much support the dog seeks from its handler, the describer looks at in several moments.


In this moment, helpers dressed as ghosts are used to see how the dog reacts to unknown threats that slowly approach the dog. The describer looks at how the dog stands up to the threat, if it wants to defend itself or its handler, and if the dog shows interest in investigating the ghosts after they stop acting threateningly.

After the description

After the description, you as the dog handler receive a copy of the protocol, which is proof that the dog has a known mental status. The result is recorded digitally and read by the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) into the databases Hunddata and Avelsdata. 

Based on the databases, it is also possible to obtain average values of the dog breeds mental status. On the statistics page you can see values and diagrams for the working dog breeds and other breeds, where at least 30 dogs that completed MH.

Click on the pictures below to see the MH protocoll and how it is performed!

Hip dysplasia, HD


HD is an incorrect development of the hip joint and a relatively common skeletal disorder in many dog ​​breeds.

 The risk of a dog developing HD is conditioned by both heredity and environment, the inheritance is complex (quantitative). This means that even dogs with normal hip joints (grade A or B) can produce offspring that develop HD. The risk of a dog with normal hip joints producing offspring that develop HD increases if its parents and/or siblings have HD. The disturbance in the development of the joint takes place during the dog's growing up period. Only when the skeleton has fully grown can the appearance of the hip joints be assessed using X-rays. The Swedish kennel club, SKK, evaluate and grade x-ray plates from dogs that has reached the age of 12 months, with no upper age limit. X-rays done before 12 months of age can be sent in for a preliminary evaluation and grading, but the results is not accepted as a final official grading for breeding, etc. The official results is recorded centrally in SKK and logged in Hunddata/Avelsdata database,


Grading of hip joint status is done according to standards established by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The standards are based partly on the fit between the hip joint ball and hip socket, and partly on the depth of the socket and how deep the ball of the hip joint is inside the cup. The joints are graded into 5 groups:


  • A - Normal/Excellent hip joints 

  • B - Normal hip joints

  • C - Mild dysplasia

  • D - Moderate dysplasia

  • E - Severe dysplasia


For Beauceron, a registration ban applies for offspring of parent that do not have official hip joint status. In accordance with SKKs Code of Ethics, a valid result must be available before mating. In addition, the Swedish Beauceron Club supports SKK's Code of Ethics, which states that it is not compatible with the code to use individuals affected by hip dysplasia in breeding.

If a breeder uses a HD-affected parent, the offspring will be banned from breeding and the ban cannot be removed. This also applies to imported dog after HD-affected parent animal with Swedish test results.


It is impossible to tell if a dog will or is suffering because of its HD by using only an X-ray. There are dogs that are lame and show other signs of pain despite having only mild dysplasia, while the occasional dog with severe dysplasia appears completely symptom-free. Generally speaking, small dogs have less problems with hip dysplasia than larger and heavier dogs with HD, can sooner or later give rise to wear and tear of the cartilage in the hip joint. The wear and tear of the cartilage cannot be seen on the X-ray image, but in cases where calcification (osteoartritis) occur, these can be distinguished on an X-ray image. The arthritis usually increase with age and sometimes lead to the hip joint becoming completely deformed in the old dog.

In Sweden, the degree of arthritis is graded:


  • LBP - Mild arthritis

  • MBP - Moderate arthritis

  • KBP - Severe arthritis

Elbow dysplasia, ED

ED is a collective name for various growth disorders that lead to bony deposits in the elbow joint, which can be distinguished relatively clearly on X-rays. Common to the various growth disorders is that small but essential parts of the joint cartilage do not develop normally or that it is damaged due to disturbed development in the surrounding bone tissue.

Unlike the methodology when reading X-ray images of hip joints, where you directly assess the possible error in the development of the joint and then separately indicate how much calcification have been added (degree of osteoarthritis), in the case of elbow joints, it is usually only possible to read if there are calcifications and then grade these.

At the central examination of the radiographs, elbow joint arthritis is graded according to the following scale, which is also used internationally:

  • 0 - No detectable changes

  • 1 - Mild bone calcifications, up to 2 mm

  • 2 - Moderate calcifications, 2 - 5 mm

  • 3 - Severe calcifications, over 5 mm

There is no definite relationship between the degree of calcifications and pain symptoms. But young dogs, with moderate or severe ED, often show stiffness and lameness, especially after hard exercise.

The inheritance of ED is complex, where both heredity, with many genes working together (polygenic), and environment are contributing factors to the development of the disease.
For official x-rays grading, the dog must be at least 12 months old. The result of the elbow joint X-ray is recorded centrally in SKK and logged in Hunddata/Avelsdata database.


All my breeding females are heart tested with ultrasound by a specialist veterinarian in cardiology. In the breed, we see more dogs suffering from heart disease and this has also happened in Sweden. Although so far it is not a particularly widespread problem within the breed, more and more breeders choose to have their breeding animals heart tested. There are several different heart diseases in dogs, but within beauceron it is mainly DCM that we have seen cases of and a few cases of MMVD.

DNA testing


All my breeding dogs are DNA-tested in Embark breeding's program. This test includes analysis of genetic diseases and morphological characteristics. Which makes breeding safer by minimizing the risk of disease and it gives a hint as to what other physical traits the puppies might inherit.

The test also provides answers to the genetic coefficient/COI (actual inbreeding degree). Which means that they measure the percentage of the dog's genetic mass, where the genes on the mother's side are identical to those on the father's side.

Traditionally in dog breeding, the inbreeding rate/coefficient/COI is calculated using the pedigree-based method. That is, how many common ancestors/mothers (ancestors) appear in the lines on the pedigree and then the number of dogs between each common ancestor, concluded with a mathematical formula. Usually you only look over 5 generations. But some breeders, like myself, check at least 10 generations. This method assumes that each parent transmits 50% of their DNA evenly across each chromosome. In practice, however, the proportion of an individual's own parent's DNA that is passed on to their offspring varies depending on recombination. Over many generations, these differences in inheritance can add up to a large variation between the dog's actual COI and the estimated COI from the pedigree method.

To give an example; A beauceron can have an inbreeding rate of 0.34% over 5 generations/6.25% over 10 gen in the pedigree. But after DNA testing, the actual genetic inbreeding rate shows 17%. 

The pedigree-based method also assumes that the breed's founding ancestors in a pedigree are completely unrelated, although breed analysis shows that this is rarely the case. Additionally, the pedigree method requires careful record keeping of each litter over dozens of generations and errors can occur.

While it is certainly important to keep detailed pedigrees, the use of a genetic COI is an easier and more accurate way to assess inbreeding effectiveness and long-term health within breeding programs.

For more information about Embark breeding programs:

Embarkvet - Breeders

Embark for Breeders dog DNA test kits – Embark Vet

For more information about inbreeding and genetic COI:

Dog Inbreeding, Its Consequences, And Its Quantification | Embark (

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