Alpine musk deer (Moschus sifanicus) are endangered ungulates, and thus, captive breeding is the main way to conserve their population. Studying their boldness is important for successful captive breeding; the behavioral trait of boldness is a hot spot in animal personality research, but few quantitative studies have investigated it in mammals. Herein, we conducted a standardized behavior test in the Breeding Center for Alpine Musk Deer, Xinglongshan National Nature Reserve, Gansu Province of western China to investigate the effect of captive musk deer’s boldness with respect to musk secretion and reproductive effort, and we tested the relationship of boldness with captive environment, gender, and age during both mating and non-mating seasons. The results indicated that the captive environment had no significant effect on boldness (mating season P = 0.799; non-mating season P = 0.152) and gender also had no significant effect on boldness (mating season P = 0.144; non-mating season P = 0.733); however, age had a significant effect on boldness
(mating season P = 0.012; non-mating season P = 0.009). Older age was associated with increased boldness. The boldness in the mating season was positively correlated to that in the non-mating season (r = 0.564, P < 0.001). Boldness during the non-mating season had a negative influence on male’s musk secretion (r = - 0.607, P = 0.016), while boldness during the mating season had a positive effect on the female’s reproductive success (r = 0.362, P = 0.045). Our results show that captive alpine musk deer’s boldness was affected by age and that there is a consistency in boldness in mating and non-mating seasons. Males with higher boldness during non-mating season secrete less musk, while females with higher boldness during mating season produce larger litters.