A preliminary investigation into personality and pain in dogs

James Lush, Carrie Ijichi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


Adherence to basic animal welfare standards involves effective monitoring and control of pain, especially in a veterinary setting. Assessment relies on behavioural and physiological indicators. However, individual differences in physiology mediate consistent individual differences in behaviour, referred to as personality (Koolhaas et al., 1999). Therefore, personality may confound measurements of pain (Ijichi et al., 2014). The current work is a preliminary investigation into whether Extraversion and Neuroticism are associated with differences in individual behavioural and physiological responses to pain. Twenty dogs were observed during recovery from routine castration in a clinical setting. Core temperature was recorded using Infrared Thermography (IRT) (Stewart et al., 2008) upon admission, 15 minutes post-extubation and every 30 minutes thereafter, until the subject was collected by their owner. Behaviour during recovery was scored using Short Form Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Scale (Reid et al., 2007) at the same intervals as IRT readings. Personality was measured using Monash Canine Personality Questionnaire-Revised (Ley et al., 2009) and owners rated their dog’s tolerance to pain on a five-point Likert scale. Pain score did not have an association with eye temperature discrepancy or core temperature changes from control, indicating it may not predict affective response to pain. More highly extravert subjects had significantly higher pain scores (p = 0.031), despite experiencing similar tissue damage. More extravert subjects showed significantly greater right eye temperature (p = 0.035), suggesting hemispheric dominance. Neuroticism had no association with physiological or behavioural responses to pain. Finally, owners were not able to predict their dog’s behavioural or physiological response to pain. These results indicate that personality may be a useful clinical tool for assessing individual differences in response to pain, whilst owner ratings of their dog’s response is not reliable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-68
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Issue numberMarch-April
Early online date7 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • castration
  • dogs
  • extroversion
  • neuroticism
  • pain
  • personality


Dive into the research topics of 'A preliminary investigation into personality and pain in dogs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this