Most Endearing and Annoying Habits

German Shepherd Dog Survey

Paul & Welly & Beowulf & Montrose
"The Rin-Tin-Tin Twin" & "Baywatch" & "The Old Grump"

In the GSD Survey conducted in July, 1995 respondents were asked to describe their dogs' most endearing and most annoying habits. This document lists respondents' answers to those items.

Responses were classified into discrete categories with multiple classification. For example an aggressive behaviour could also be scored as a protective behaviour. In addition respondents listed several or more habits in one category. For example an owner would list that their dog was very intelligent, affectionate and was playful under endearing habits. Such an answer would be listed in the three categories covering those subjects.

Content analysis tends to be very subjective in nature, largely dependent on the knowledge (or lack of), experience and background of the persons(s) examining the 'data'. I have included the actual responses and you can examine them and develop your own scoring scheme if you want. The current classification was developed by myself and other family members.

A total of 10 categories were developed that covered both positive and negative attributes of those categories.

The following categories apply:

1. LOYALTY/PROTECTION    Positive- very loyal and exhibits
                         protective behaviour.
                         Negative- overly protective.

2. EATING/DRINKING       Positive- self-explanatory
                         Negative- over eats, messy,
                                   glutton, hog, etc.

3. AFFECTIONATE          Positive- cuddling, wakes you up,
                         kisses, licks, greetings
                         Negative- overly affectionate, etc.

4. BEHAVIOUR/TRAINING    Positive- Follows commands, physical
                         behaviours (lies on back to have tummy
                         rubbed), high stepping dog, not afraid
                         of loud noises, strange situations,etc. 
                         Negative- Above reversed or to extreme.

5. FRIENDLY/AGGRESSIVE   Positive- Loves to meet people, laid
                         back around strangers, good around other
                         dogs or animals.
                         Negative- Above reversed. 

6. PLAY                  Positive- Loves to play
                         Negative- Takes it to an extreme-
                         wants to play all the time.

7. INTELLIGENCE          Positive- Demonstrates an ability to
                         understand what you want and then do it.
                         Negative- Demonstrates an ability to
                         understand what you want and then not do

8. INDEPENDENCE          Positive- Strong emotional stability.
                         Not scared of anything. Willing to go
                         out there and find out what's going on.
                         Strange situations don't bother them.
                         Negative- Fearful, strange situations
                         bother them, neurotic, etc.

9. ATTENTION             Positve- Love attention
                         Negative- demand too much attention

10. OTHER                Miscellaneous

CATEGORY                 POSITIVE            NEGATIVE

1.  Loyalty/Protection   11                  10

2.  Eating/Sleeping/Etc.  0                   9

3.  Affection            43                   5

4.  Behaviour/Training   13                  27

5.  Aggressive/Friendly  13                  15

6.  Play                  9                   8

7.  Intelligence          9                   9

8.  Independence          8                   3

9.  Attention             3                   6

10. Other                 1                   3
Numbers beg that they be analyzed and from this we make conclusions. However, these numbers are derived from a subjective evaluation and may not be really what is going on. As well the sample is restricted to mainly GSDer's and those who have net access.
Given all these restrictions what we love about our dogs are:

     a) Their affection (they love to lick us)
     b) Their behaviour/training 
     c) Their friendliness 
     d) Their play (throw this ball for me)
     e) Their intelligence

What we hate is:

a) Their behaviour training (don't follow orders) b) Their over aggressivness (chase cats, face off postman) c) Their over protectiveness (too smart for your own good) d) Their intelligence (While you are away I'll amuse myself) e) Their I'm playing why aren't you f) Physical Behaviours

What it boils down to is that GSD's are smart and active.


Most endearing habit: Follow my wife everywhere to protect her

Most annoying habit: follow my wife everywhere

Most endearing habit: Sleeping on her back

Most annoying habit: Eating poop

Most endearing habit: Loves to be petted

Most annoying habit: Uncivilized in the house and a food scavenger

Most endearing habit: Morning greeting ritual of snuggling

Most annoying habit: Jumping on my lap uninvited (when the Big Kids are after her)

Most endearing habit:as soon as I am really awake in the morning she walks over for a lick

Most annoying habit:barking at stuff outside 

Most endearing habit: TOTALLY DEVOTED BAR ALL ELSE


Most endearing habit: LOVES TO GIVE/RECEIVE HUGS


Most endearing habit: LOVES TO SNUGGLE


Most endearing habit: Friendliness: bestower of many licks

Most annoying habit: Barking while we're on phone or in bathroom

Most endearing habit: Gets in armchair, puts paws on armrest, and rests head on paws...adorable!

Most annoying habit: Jumping on bed when alarm goes off

Most endearing habit: A big lovable guy with a beautiful personality who loved to play

Most annoying habit: Stubborn; very vocal

Most endearing habit: Very inventive, ingenious, creative, full of surprises.

Most annoying habit:  Stubborn; very vocal

Most endearing habit: Never even thinks about going potty in the house.

Most annoying habit: She keeps growing up!  (sniff sniff)

Most endearing habit: Very protective

Most annoying habit: Pottied in the house

Most endearing habit:  Rests her chin on your lap.

Most annoying habit:  Eats too much

Most endearing habit: Woo woo's for luvin's, very affectionate

Most annoying habit: Can't stop moving!

Most endearing habit: The way he places himself between me and others, 
especially people whom he doesn't know.

Most annoying habit: He paws me when he wants attention. This can be painful. 

Most endearing habit: Sleeps in my bed and snuffles into my ear, consoling me 
and making me laugh. 

Most annoying habit: Eats everything in sight! Especially non-food items. 
Most endearing habit: oh heavens!  Everything from gardening to hovering

Most annoying habit: deliberately choosing to ignore a command

Most endearing habit: cuddling :) 

Most annoying habit: whining when he doesn't get his way!

Most endearing habit: doing anything for attention

Most annoying habit: doing anything for attention

Most endearing habit: Checking on "her" pet owners 

Most annoying habit: Waking us up at 3AM to go outside.

Most endearing habit: ball play by herself--she pounces on her ball and sends it scooting.

Most annoying habit:  aggressive barking at everyone and everything she feels 
doesn't belong in her vicinity
Most endearing habit: The most affectionate boy ever, a real snuggler. 

Most annoying habit:  Has to eat everything in sight. 

Most endearing habit: Affectionate, always ready to play, or swim, or... 

Most annoying habit: Prey drive. She's hard on the fingers.

Most endearing habit: Steadfast companion, always at my side.

Most annoying habit:  Growling at strangers that push at her.

Most endearing habit: The best with kids and older people. A talker.

Most annoying habit:  Wants to be alpha bitch.

Most endearing habit: kissing & clacking her teeth

Most annoying habit: jumping & biting the top of your head as you walk thru the yard

Most endearing habit: kissing

Most annoying habit: throwing her toy in your lap & barking to have you throw it

Most endearing habit: guardian protector & master of the females

Most annoying habit: picky eater at times

Most endearing habit: Putting his head on couch arm while waiting to have the ball thrown.

Most annoying habit: Dropping the ball on the keyboard after he's been told no more ball!

Most endearing habit: Running from anywhere in the house to greet me when I get home.

Most annoying habit: Taking up half the kingsize bed, sprawled in the middle so she gets 
a good night's sleep and we suffer

Most endearing habit: She waits to go downstairs in the morning until I get down.

Most annoying habit: Yodelling

Most endearing habit: Lying on her back doing pushups in the air.

Most annoying habit: Lunge, snap, bark routine at strangers.

Most endearing habit: When she puts her ears back and tucks 
her butt when she wags her tail to greet me.

Most annoying habit: Likes to eat cat shit

Most endearing habit: His sad eyes and drooping mouth when he 
is begging for something really good

Most annoying habit: Mouthing and being rough when playing

Most endearing habit: licking my nose

Most annoying habit: peeing on the carpet

Most endearing habit:his sweetness 

Most annoying habit: curiosity in my sex life

Most endearing habit:bathroom visits 

Most annoying habit:none-This is the perfect dog 

Most endearing habit:  snuggling up to give me nose pokes  

Most annoying habit:  pestering the cat

Most endearing habit: sleeping in odd positions

Most annoying habit: obnoxious vocalizing

Most endearing habit: He woo-woos when we do.

Most annoying habit: Torments our 10 yr old deaf Scottish Terrier

Most endearing habit: Loves me and shows me by using her  ears as 
part of her speaking/emotions

Most annoying habit: Tries to wake me up sometimes (after I  have 
hit the snooze button) by licking my face

Most endearing habit: She's Nosey, and has to Lick Everything!

Most annoying habit: She has to Lick Everything!

Most endearing habit: likes to snuggle

Most annoying habit: won't stop snuggling

Most endearing habit: staring and barking when he wants something

Most annoying habit: go thru legs and boinking you in the privates

Most endearing habit: running around with something in his mouth

Most annoying habit: Jumping on the bed in the morning and rubbing his eyes. 

Most endearing habit: When I lie down on the sofa to rest or watch TV, 
she nuzzles up to me and burrows her head under the
covers or next to my face as if to say "Can I come up and

Most annoying habit:  Vicious barking and lunging at any
bicyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian that comes within 50 feet
of the car whenever we take a ride.  (We're working on breaking
this habit).

Most endearing habit: total devotion to me 

Most annoying habit: dog aggressive

Most endearing habit: extremely intelligent

Most annoying habit: escape artist

Most endearing habit: friendliness

Most annoying habit: none

Most endearing habit: very vocal, intensely protective, very

Most annoying habit: very low pain threshold, very neurotic

Most endearing habit: very affectionate when she knows you

Most annoying habit: afraid of everything new

Most endearing habit: Just neat to have around.

Most annoying habit: None as of now

Most endearing habit: big time snuggler

Most annoying habit: removes rubber tip from all door stops
in house

Most endearing habit: likes to snuggle

Most annoying habit: won't stop snuggling

Most endearing habit: running around with something in his

Most endearing habit: tucks her bottom, and runs full
throttle, whenever she sees or smells me, headon into me, stops
and jumps up to kiss directly in front of me.

Most annoying habit:  very sensitive, spends a lot of time
hiding under desks and tables-maybe due to being dumped at around
8 weeks of age.
Most endearing habit: very maternal towards kittens

Most annoying habit: rarely leaves the couch

Most endearing habit: gets so excited when our male Kuvasz
comes in from outside or from a show, loves him to death and just
talks to him all the time

Most annoying habit: extremely pushy for constant attention

Most endearing habit: loves to lay on her back with her feet
up in the air

Most annoying habit: afraid of loud noises

Most endearing habit: very maternal towards baby animals

Most annoying habit: a bit too territorial, hasn't developed his
brains yet on how to guard properly

Most endearing habit: twists her head like a goose when
she plays

Most annoying habit: slobbery puppy and loves to wipe her mouth
on your clothes

Most endearing habit: always slapping her paws at you

Most annoying habit: won't listen

Most endearing habit: Listening to commands (most of the time)

Most annoying habit: Jumping up on the table/bed (front paws

Most endearing habit: If somebody cries, she comes running
to give the person a few kisses. 

Most annoying habit: Whines a lot

Most endearing habit: greets with ball in his mouth all the

Most annoying habit: likes to stick close to people when they
are walking

Most endearing habit: Nosing me while I doing paper work wanting
to go work/play

Most annoying habit: same as above

Most endearing habit: Doing her baby seal impression

Most annoying habit: Sticking her wet nose in my face 10
minutes before the alarm goes off.

Most endearing habit: I've only had her a week can't tell

Most annoying habit: None (?)

Most endearing habit: This 98# GSD sits "Pretty" with paws
crossed on his hind legs trying to look like a puppy for a

Most annoying habit: chasing opossum and birds in the yard.

Most endearing habit: cuddling up on your side whenever I sit

Most annoying habit:  ripping up the house when there is a storm.
Most endearing habit:  waking me up with kisses in the morning.

Most annoying habit:  barking at everything.

Most endearing habit: She decides that she has to go into her
crate anytime I shower. I only have the crate now because she
still likes to use it.

Most annoying habit: She thinks I can cure thunder storms; so
she wakes me up to make them go away.

Most endearing habit:  very affectionate

Most annoying habit:  very affectionate

Most endearing habit:  very friendly

Most annoying habit:  hates cats

Most endearing habit:  eager to please

Most annoying habit:  very insecure

Most endearing habit:  snuggling  beside my feet

Most annoying habit: prefers to avoid men (including my

Most endearing habit: affectionate

Most annoying habit:  high strung and quite mouthy

Most endearing habit:  independence

Most annoying habit:  likes to bully his kennelmate (whichever
female is with him)

Most endearing habit:  very gentle

Most annoying habit: likes to be boss

Most endearing habit: can be very friendly

Most annoying habit:  quite possessive and aggressive

Most endearing habit: very playful on her walks

Most annoying habit:  very mouthy

Most endearing habit:  loves affection

Most annoying habit: very timid with strangers

Most endearing habit: likes to snuggle

Most annoying habit:  letting her brothers push her around

Most endearing habit: her friendliness 

Most annoying habit:  fairly stubborn

Most endearing habit:  "Talking" personality

Most annoying habit:  Noisiness

Most endearing habit: Loyalty

Most annoying habit:  Bitchiness with Xano

Most endearing habit:   Focus

Most annoying habit: Circling around rather than coming directly.

Most endearing habit:  Loves to cuddle 

Most annoying habit:  Get's mad at you if you leave town and
don't take her with you.  Then makes messes right in front of you
for a few days. 

Most endearing habit:  Will turn even the worst small dog hater
into a fan.  Thinks he's 150 lbs. 

Most annoying habit:  "The Terrorist",  Loves to dig in flower
beds and attacks our 75 lbs. Chessie 

Most endearing habit:  Fiercely loyal 

Most annoying habit:  Happiest when licking you 

Most endearing habit: her sweetness with Everyone, esp.

Most annoying habit: barking at the other dogs to keep them in

Most endearing habit: Very sweet, gentle and funny

Most annoying habit: sometimes barks when she is left at
home, but another dog gets to leave w. owner

Most endearing habit: Affectionate and funny

Most annoying habit:  Lunges/barks at smaller animals

Most endearing habit: Sweet and calm

Most annoying habit:  escape artist

Most endearing habit: Curling up on my shoulder and the back
of the sofa while I sit in the corner of the sofa.

Most annoying habit: Licking/eating the carpet

Most endearing habit: Sitting in my lap -- all 50 lbs of her!

Most annoying habit: Barking

Most endearing habit: Cuddling on the bed.

Most annoying habit: Trying to eat all the food

Most endearing habit: high stepping prancing trot while heeling ,
zest for life.

Most annoying habit: barks at other dogs when she is in her crate

Most endearing habit: wants to be good, no resistance to
anything I ask him to do

Most annoying habit: eats rocks and dirt

Most endearing habit: is a good girl now but

Most annoying habit: she was very wild as a young dog

Most endearing habit: has "charm" 

Most annoying habit: hits front of crate with his feet when
other dogs approach - huge banging noise
Most endearing habit: gets us up every morning with ear licks and

Most annoying habit: same as above but on weekends

Most endearing habit: has a very mournful expression

Most annoying habit: bugging our 13 yr. old border collie mix

German Shepherd Dog Survey Results

Background & Methodology:
In July, 1995 a survey of GSD (German Shepherd Dog) owners who subscribe to the GSD List Server located at Latrobe University in Australia was conducted. The survey was conducted in order to:

a) compile a statistical profile of GSD owners on the server

b) examine whether or not GSD owners varied significantly from other breed owners in various personality traits.

Messages were posted both to and rec.dogs.pets on the USENET asking interested persons to contact the researcher. Two research instruments were developed, one for GSD owners and one for other breed owners. Survey instruments were distributed on request.

A total of 98 surveys were distributed and a total of 77 responses were received (71 GSD owners and 6 other breed owners). The most recent information indicates that as of July there were approximately 178 persons subscribed to the GSD server yielding a response rate of 40% (71/178). Assuming that there was no response bias and that this was a random sample of GSD net users the confidence interval is +/-6% and the same estimates would be obtained 95 times out of every 100 surveys run.

Normally response rates of 60% or more provide some measure of assurance that responses are generally unbiased (sic there is no difference between those who answered the questionnaire and those who did not). The 40% response rate does raise some concerns with respect to response biases. As part of the research process it is often worthwhile comparing the selected sample statistics against the population statistics (gender, age, education, income, etc.). If the percentage distributions are comparable then you can have more confidence in you sample being representative of the population you are studying.

The only statistic that was available for comparison was gender and it was derived from the roster (129 on the list as of July, 1995). The sample contained 27% males and the roster contained 30% female thus providing some evidence of representativeness (at least on gender lines).

The other problem that emerged was the low number of 'other breed' owners who responded (6). Normal inferential statistics employed in testing differences between groups produce unstable test statistics. To overcome this special inferential statistics were employed to test differences between groups (SPSS Exact Tests and Monte Carlo Significance- those of you who want a more technical explanation as to how these tests operate let me know).

Here are the results couched in a series of questions and answers.

Q.   We know how many people responded to the survey. But how
     many GSD's does this represent?

A.   The 71 GSDer's owned a total of 271 GSD's of which 45% were
     male and 55% were female. The median number of GSD's owned
     was 2 per respondent. Here's the distribution:

     Number of GSD's Owned              Number of Persons
     =====================              =================
          One Dog                            28   ( 40%)
          Two Dogs                           15   ( 21%)
          Three Dogs                         15   ( 21%)
          Four to Ten Dogs                    9   ( 13%)
          Over Ten Dogs                       3   (  5%)
          Total                              71   (100%)

     Sixteen respondents reported owning other breeds as well.

Q.   A double question here. What are our reasons for owning
     GSD's and how do those reasons for owning compare to the
     other breed owners?

A.   In the table below is the summary of the reasons for owning.
     Note that respondents gave multiple reasons.

                            Reasons For Owning

     Reasons             GSD Owners          Other Breed    Sig.
     =======             ==========          ===========    ====
     Companion/Pet       93   (41%)             6   ( 40%)   NO
     Breeding            42   (18%)             3   ( 20%)   N0
     Competition         42   (18%)             3   ( 20%)   NO
     Working              7   ( 3%)             0   (  0%)  YES
     Security            45   (20%)             6   ( 40%)  YES
     Hunting              0   ( 0%)             0   (  0%)   NO

     Total Reasons      229   (100%)           18   (100%)

     The most frequently occurring reason for both
     groups was 'companion/pet'.

     The second most frequent reason given for both groups was 
     for security/protection. While this occurred 20% of the time
     for GSDer's it occurred 40% of the time for other breed
     owners. While this may appear to be counter-intuitive there
     is a plausible explanation dealing with personality types.

     The only other reason to exhibit a statistically significant
     difference was with respect to 'working'. However, the
     difference of 3% is not great.

     The 'Sig.' column indicates whether or not the differences
     in the frequency of reasons given occurred by chance or
     represent 'real' differences. Two significant differences
     emerge. The other breed owners were more likely to have
     their dogs for security reasons  and less likely to have
     them as working dogs (differences were significant at the
     .05 level- there were 95 chances in 100 that the observed
     differences did not occur randomly.)

Q.   Are there any important differences between GSD owners and 
     other breed owners?

     Yes there were several differences. The 24 attitudinal
     questions that you were asked were designed to measure
     several underlying concepts. While there were 9 conceptual
     measures only 5 were usable (small sample size made some concepts 

     The 5 conceptual measures were:

     a)   Outgoing type of person (extroverted)
     b)   Involved in community
     c)   Optimistic        
     d)   Concern with crime
     e)   Religiousness

     These five factors were examined by group (GSD vs. other 
     breed owners). Significant differences occurred on all 5
     factors. The results are summarized below:
              % of Respondents Agreeing or Strongly Agreeing

     Item:               GSD Owners     Other Breed    Sig.
     =====               ==========     ===========    ====

     Outgoing                 36%           80%        Yes
     Involved In Community    39%           80%        Yes
     Optimism                 75%           50%        Yes
     Concern With Crime       38%          100%        Yes
     Religiousness            50%          100%        Yes

Q.   So what does this mean?

A.   It is important to remember that these differences are 
     tentative due to the low number of other breed owners in the
     sample. Even if these differences persist with larger
     samples we are left with the problem of interpreting these
     concepts which tends to be very subjective.

     The items suggest we tend to be aloof, optimistic, not
     fearful and less religious than the other breed owners. I
     suppose some of these attributes might be associated with
     our GSD's- aloof & not fearful.

Q.   Who are the listers on the GSD server?

A.   That's where those demographic stats come in. Here they are
     summarized below.

     Distribution of Respondents By Country

     Canada    10   14%
     USA       59   83%
     Other      2    3%

     Distribution of Respondents By Gender

     Female    52   73%
     Male      19   27%

     Distribution of Respondents By Marital Status

     Married/Common Law       50   70%
     Single                   12   17%
     Separated/Divorced        8   11%
     Widowed                   1    2%

     Distribution of Respondents By Residential Location

     Urban          12   17%
     Suburban       39   55%
     Small Town      4    6%
     Rural          16   22%

     Distribution of Respondents By Age
     Average Age = 39 years
     Median Age = 39 years

     Distribution of Respondents By Income & Socio-Economic 

     Average Income = $53,000 US   (Computed from grouped data)
     Most Frequently Occurring Income Category = $60,000 +
     (26 persons reported in this income category).

     Socio-Economic Status- This was computed employing
     occupation and income based on the Pineo-Porter Scale.
Upper Middle Class 13   18%
Middle Class 34   48%
Lower Middle Class 15   22%
Unable to Classify   9   12%

     This should not be surprising. You have to be able to afford it to be able to be on the net.

Q.   While that's interesting information what can be done with it?

A.   Further analysis. For example it might be interesting to conduct gender comparisons       
      or age comparisons. Read and 
      review. If you have any questions you want answered contact

Q.   What was the point of the 'Jake' question?

A.   Well, it had been put in there as a humorous piece and I 
     had been expecting some really funny answers. It turned out
     that about 52% knew who Jake was and 48% didn't (Jake is
     Anka Andrews (who is a heavy poster) GSD mix about whom
     there are numerous funny (and serious- he is a therapy dog)

     The question was a total 'blowout' and my apologies to
     people who mistook it as a serious question.

     It is interesting that while we tend to think of this server
     as being a group where people know everybody else this does
     not appear to be the case. I suspect that a significant
     portion of  people conversing over the net restrict their
     interests (probably due to the cost in money for many


Back to FAQ Page