American Temperament Test Society

The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) provides a uniform national program of temperament testing and supplies owners with a means for evaluating the temperament of their dog. The test measures different aspects of temperament focusing on stability, shyness, aggressiveness, friendliness, and a dog’s instinct for protectiveness towards the handler and/or self-preservation in threatening situations.

The test models casually walk in the park or in a neighborhood where common occurrences are encountered. The dog is on a 6-foot leash and the handler is not allowed to talk to the dog via instructions, commands, corrections, or praise. During the walk, the dog will experience various visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli- including neutral, friendly, and threatening situations.

The situations help establish the dog’s ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and watchful, protective reactions. Failure during any part of the test is recognized if the dog displays unprovoked aggression, panic without recovery, and/or strong avoidance.

Bully breeds fair well during these tests. In 2007, three “pit bull” breeds had a combined passing rate of 85.5%, which is a higher passing percentage than the Golden Retriever (84.2%),  Cocker Spaniel (81.7%), Beagle (80.3%), and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi (75.4%). The average of tested dogs was 81.6%. Out of 122 different breeds that were tested, the American Pit Bull Terrier earned the 4th highest passing rate.

As of 2008, the ATTS reported that 85.3% of American Pit Bull Terriers that were tested passed the tests, which again was higher than the average of all tested breeds for 2008, which was 81.9%. American Staffordshire scored 83.9%, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers scored 88.0%.

The three “bully breeds” continue to score higher than many dog breeds that most people consider great “family pets” and “family friendly dog breeds.”

In 2010, the ATTS temperament test yielded The APBT at a 86% passing rate. American Staffordshires achieved an 83.9%, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers had an 89.9% passing rate. Golden Retrievers scored 84.6%; Cocker Spaniels scored 81.9%; and Collies scored 79.7%.