Assessing the welfare of kennelled dogs—A review of animal-based measures

Zita Polgar, Emily Blackwell, Nicola Rooney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
351 Downloads (Pure)


Hundreds of thousands of dogs are housed in kennels worldwide, yet there are no standard protocols for assessing the welfare of dogs in these environments. Animal science is focusing increasingly on the importance of animal-based measures for determining welfare states, and those measures that have been used with kennelled dogs are reviewed in this paper with particular focus on their practi-cality and validity. From a physiological standpoint, studies using cortisol, heart rate and heart rate variability, temperature changes, and immune function are discussed. Behavioural measures are also of great relevance when addressing canine welfare, thus studies on fear and anxiety behaviours, ab-normal behaviours like stereotypies, as well as responses to strangers and novel objects are reviewed. Finally, a limited number of studies attempting to use cognitive bias and learning ability are also mentioned as cognitive measures. The literature to date provides a strong background for which measures may be useful in determining the welfare of kennelled canines, however more research is needed to further assess the practicality and validity of using these methods, particularly in regard to the large degree of individual differences that exist between dogs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Early online date13 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Animal welfare
  • Animal-based measures
  • Assessment
  • Dogs
  • Kennels


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