April 3, 2017

"People often say things like, 'Pointers point, retrievers retrieve, and pit bulls fight,' implying that violence is in pit-bull-type dogs’ DNA."

"How does that hold up under scientific scrutiny?"
It doesn’t. There are all these layers of nuance and complexity that people aren’t interested in. It’s a lot easier to say, “Pointers point, retrievers retrieve, and fighting dogs fight.” That’s a very soothing and simplistic way of looking at the world, but it’s not really true. Pointers who have been highly selected for pointing will perhaps have a knack for pointing based on the breeder and the processes of selection and the particular line of dog and all these other choices that are being made (how the dogs are handled, how they’re trained, etc). Breeders know how to increase that likelihood, but as one of the trainers I interviewed in the book stressed, “There’s no such thing as a litter of winners.”...

101 comments:

Michael K said...

I would not have a pit bull in my house or yard.

Expat(ish) said...

Have any of these people actually owned, you know, dogs?

Having had a few in my life, and worked at the local vet clinic that was in charge of spay/neuter for the pound, I will be happy to generalize:

1> A**holes often have a**hole dogs; and
2> Well meaning people who don't have a clue about dogs often have a**hole dogs as well.

I've never met a competent dog owner who had a dog that worried me.

-XC

PS - I have a friend with two large brindle staffies. Those dogs are dangerous to cheerios and bacon, otherwise the biggest issue is drowning-by-slobber.

PPS - I currently have a labradoodle that won't fetch (unless it wants to play), doesn't like to go in the water, and has absolutely none of the self possession of a poodle. Somehow they cross-bred out all the breed characteristics except sweet.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

We have a rescue mutt, who is a significant percentage pointer. She points, without any training. It is in her DNA. Of course she will never be a "winner" when it comes to pointing, but she has the instinct.

Why would it be any different for breeds that have been selected for aggression?

So your pit bull only has an increased likelihood of tearing your child's face off? Well alright then.

Michael K said...

My last four dogs have been basset hounds and before that I had a golden retriever, They have all been wonderful dogs,.

Back many years ago, I had weimariners which were good dogs but a bit hyper. Labradors are great but too energetic for me these days.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"Somehow they cross-bred out all the breed characteristics except sweet."

They also keep the hypoallergenic hair.

Brando said...

The pit bull as "violent" fiction had more to do with people mistreating their own dogs, which can turn any breed violent. (Works with children, too!) But anyone who's encountered a well-treated pit bull wouldn't distinguish it from any other dogs.

DKWalser said...

My wife's family breed and showed dogs. They also ran a boarding kennel and grooming shop. She cringes when she hears a family is getting X breed of dog. (There are several values for the variable X.) For example, a family in Arizona just got a Siberian Husky. That's not a breed that's well suited for Arizona's desert heat! It's also a dog that was bred to run. They typically don't do well if confined to a small back yard. Unless you frequently have the time to take them somewhere where they can run, you're apt to end up with an unhappy dog. She cringes for different reasons when she hears a family with small children has gotten a cocker spaniel. (The tend to be "nippy".)

Are there exceptions to these bred-in tendencies? Of course, but you won't know whether the puppy you're holding is the exception. It's smart to assume your dog will run true to breed and get a breed that fits your circumstance instead of demanding a puppy act against generations of breeding. Buying the wrong breed is a prescription for frustrating both owner and dog.

Rob said...

Some pit bulls are not only formidable fighters but also vicious and antisocial. But enough about Rahm Emanuel.

Roughcoat said...

Breeding is interesting. Breeding matters. I've had several border collies, and I have two now. Got both straight out of the litter. I exposed them to sheep at 16 weeks and they started herding them immediately. They were very keen on managing the sheep. At 16 weeks! It was as if someone flipped a switch in their brains: "Oh, this is what I'm supposed to, this is the fulfillment of my being!" The BC pictured as my avatar actually backed a flock of c. 10 sheep into a corner against a fence and held them there with her eye. She was just this itty-bitty thing and she was already bossing the big sheep. She has since won several regional sheepherding championships.

buwaya said...

The whole thing is about probability.
Its not individuals. Individuals vary.
Its tough to make a standard product out of plants or animals.
We are all products of nature, man can only change, enhance or reduce probabilities.
I think also of man himself.

robother said...

The reasoning in this article is typical popsci BS: straw man vs. anecdotal exceptions. To say that not every pit bull in a litter was good enough to professionally fight or bait bulls is not the same as saying that they all didn't share the same basic tendencies or traits. Look at the percentage of human deaths and serious disfigurements from dog bites and the same two or three breeds constantly come up, wth pit bull types on top.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Roughcoat said...

Breeding matters.

Oh, great. Another Charles Murray thread...

rhhardin said...

Vicki Hearne did a book _Bandit_ on the pit bull hysteria, taking apart the media and Dan Rather. Ignore the modern cover blurbs, which have nothing to do with the book.

Hearne takes no prisoners.

Hearne's Law: if there's a stink in the media about something, it's because some politician or charity wants a stink in the media about it.

She's a lefty unaware that she always writes on the right; and the rare woman who can write.

Wide-ranging book. There's even a section on feminism.

Fernandinande said...

"implying that violence is in pit-bull-type dogs’ DNA. How does that hold up under scientific scrutiny?"
It doesn’t.


Then he says it does:
Breeders know how to increase that likelihood

“There’s no such thing as a litter of winners.”

Did anyone ask that?

Related Why Your Dog’s Personality Is a Lot Like Yours

Two dogs with opposite personalities = Dissociative Identity Disorder. Woof!

Michael K said...

"But enough about Rahm Emanuel."

You can tell he was bred to be a killer by looking at his brother, Zeke.

A born killer, especially if you are over 75.

rhhardin said...

Dogs are made vicious by teasing. Nothing makes sense because there's no sense to be made.

Virgil Hilts said...

I have read too many stories about pit bulls from nice families who treated them well suddenly attacking and killing a toddler or completely destroying the neighbor's poodle. It may be a tiny percentage of pitbulls who do this, but the idea that each and every pitbull who has ever done this must have been abused by a prior or current owner is crap.

mike said...

Roughcoat, I've always liked your avatar.

16 weeks old is pretty risky to put a dog on sheep, but it is difficult to argue with a regional winner!

Roughcoat said...

My last four dogs have been basset hounds

I'm quite fond of basset hounds, they look like they should be sitting in front of a fire wearing tweed flat caps and tweed jackets and puffing on a curved pipe while regaling you with stories about fighting the Fuzzy Wuzzies in "The Soudan."

robinintn said...

What bullshit, as thoroughly covered in several comments. But also, there's the fact that a nip from my Sheltie is a mutilation from a pit's powerful jaw. You can afford to be wrong about what many breeds will do, but not about this breed.

Virgil Hilts said...

Pit bull - family pet for 8 years - decides to attack and kill two year old son. http://www.cbs46.com/story/22066382/toddler-dies-after-pit-bull-attack
Please show me a story like this that involves a Scottie.

tim in vermont said...

Bullshit that they are no different than other dogs. Any fool can raise a Labrador to be gentle and loving and to retrieve, it's bred into them, which is probably why they threw the more difficult pointers in there. My neighbor is a breeder of pit bulls, who presumably knows how to handle them and still one of his dogs mauled another neighbor's beagle. I am not sure you could even train a Labrador to do that without using some vicious tactics, perhaps.

But whatever lies you need to tell yourself. Most drunk drivers don't kill anybody, so what is the big deal?

MayBee said...

We had a sheltie, and the minute we brought him home as a puppy, he started herding my children. His whole life, he did what he could to get us all in the same room. We certainly didn't teach him to herd, he just did it.

Dog breeds have certain traits. That's the whole thing about breeding. Does that mean there aren't super sweet pit bulls? No, of course not- there are a lot of sweet, docile pit bulls. But there are also the pit bulls where their breeding has made them fighty, and that is difficult to overcome. Add to it that yes, a lot of asshole people get pit bulls because they want to have menacing dogs, and they encourage the menacing nature.

When you hear about someone being mauled to death, it's never a Great Dane, even though they are huge dogs. It's always the fighting breeds. For a reason.

Virgil Hilts said...

Here's one from a few weeks ago (and yes the attack was fatal):
Messer said Isaiah was finishing up one last video game before bed, with two other adults in the room and his mother in the next room. A 3-year-old pit bull named Tiny was there too, who had lived with the family since he was a puppy.
"The dog was never aggressive, ever," said Messer. “He was a very nice dog. There was no signs at all that he would ever, ever do anything like that, because if so, the dog would not have been in the house." Messer adds Tiny was trained well, even pampered. She calls him a nice dog who Isaiah would even take on walks. But Messer said with no warning signs, no growls, no one even interacting with Tiny at the time, he attacked Isaiah.
http://www.wsaz.com/content/news/Child-killed-in-dog-attack-404468515.html

tim in vermont said...

I didn't find out about my neighbor's beagle in the media, BTW.

I also don't think any amount of teasing would turn a Lab vicious.

Fernandinande said...

fell down pit bull attacked

Search Results
76-year-old man critical, pet Pomeranian killed in pit bull attack in ...

Oct 29, 2015 - A Glendale woman attacked by pit bulls survives to tell her story. ... She said she fell down.

Woman, 86, is mauled to death by her daughter's two pit bulls after she she tripped and fell on to a dog bed,
...etc...

"fell down golden retriever attacked"

Search Results
Golden Retriever Saves Owner Who Fell and Broke His Neck in Icy Cold ...

Golden retriever puppy hunts down and attacks a stuffed toy lion with ...

Sudden Attack of Dizziness - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever ...

traditionalguy said...

Is this another cheap shot on the Scots-Irish.

Roughcoat said...

Mike:

You're correct, 16 weeks is early. But not necessarily too early: depends on the dog. We (my trainer and I) were very, very careful about exposing them to sheep. First we walked them up to the fence so they could have a look at the sheep and we watched their reaction and behavior. In the case of the two I mentioned above, both displayed a high degree of keenness and interest in the sheep. So we took them into the sheep pen and monitored the goings-on very closely, supervised them intensively.

That said, I've had other border collies that displayed no interest in sheep for the first year or so. Border collies can mature very slowly and everyone who herds sheep with BCs know that you often just have to wait out the growing-up process; no one worries about it. Some BCs can take as long as 3 years before they're ready to work sheep. You'll know when they're ready, they'll tell you. For the longest time it'll be nothing, nothing, nothing ... and then suddenly, one day, the "nickel drops" (as we BC people like to say).

You have to be very careful. If you expose them to sheep at a very young age and they're not ready, not interested, you back off completely. Forcing them in with the sheep at young age when they're not ready can permanently ruin them for working, it'll destroy their confidence. At it happened, the two I'm referring to (especially the avatar BC), were ready, more than ready, eager to go. They told me so. I think they were old souls, they'd done this in another life.

Michael K said...

" I am not sure you could even train a Labrador to do that without using some vicious tactics, perhaps. "

My basset hound, a gentle soul, was mauled badly by a lab that was running loose without a leash as we were walking Juliet on her leash.

The lab, which looked to me like a lab mix, was out with the neighbor's teenage kids.

I could not get the lab off my dog. I kicked it off a couple of times but it would go right back.

Juliet was on her back, totally passive and screaming in pain. Neighbors ran to help and the owner of the lab came out and got it off her.

We wrapped her in a towel and took her to a vet ER where they sewed her up. She eventually recovered but we were worried for a few days. Fortunately, the neighbor paid the $1400 vet bill.

She doesn't like other dogs much now. Now, I walk her with a walking stick with a spike on the end.

We have since moved, the attack was a year ago, but we have wild pigs in the area.

Michael K said...

You also have to be concerned about jealousy in a dog that has been pampered.

Years ago, I saw a case of a couple who brought their new baby home and "introduced" it to the German Shepherd they had had for years. When they were out of the room, the dog grabbed the baby by the head and crunched. It came in the ICU with wounds that resembled the lion attacks I have seen. I can't recall if the baby survived.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Golden retriever puppy hunts down and attacks a stuffed toy lion with ..."

I can tell you my Golden is absolutely fierce with teddy bears. He takes no shit from them whatsoever.

mockturtle said...

Most drunk drivers don't kill anybody, so what is the big deal?

Exactly, Tim. IMO, all pit bulls should be destroyed.

Roughcoat said...

Michael K:

Sorry to hear about your girl. Glad she made it through. A stick with a spike on the end would work, certainly; for my part I carry a can of Fox Pepper spray or very powerful bear spray. Fortunately border collies don't like to fight. They aren't bred for it and they avoid fighting with strange dogs to the extent possible. We take my BCs to a local dog park and they herd the other dogs, circling around them continuously, it's great (if intense) fun for them. If one of the dogs takes exception to their herding behavior and lunges at them, they simply back away and resume circling. That said, they sometimes tangle with each other in the house, resolving dominance issues, but those episodes last only a second and involved snarling and snapping without making contact. Afterwards they'll lie on the same bed together, best friends forever.

Steve in Toronto said...

My brother in law had a Pit Bull it was a wonderful and gentle dog but it did have a very strong prey instinct, I don't think there was a raccoon for miles around their house. People forget that Pit bull were never bred to be protection animals, unlike German Sheppard's, Boxers, Dobermans and Rottweilers (breeds that I regard as far more dangerous).

Luke Lea said...

“There’s no such thing as a litter of winners.”...

True enough. That's because it is all about statistical norms and gene frequencies. But to say these differences are environmental rather than genetic in origin is just another example of the science denialism that is de rigeur in polite liberal circles today. How long they can keep it up in this new age of the genome is anybody's guess.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
The lab, which looked to me like a lab mix, was out with the neighbor's teenage kids.


Years ago I had a lab from champ-trials background and all he wanted to do was fetch; he was very friendly to people and quite disinterested in other dogs. I saw another dog that looked just like him in the back of a pickup and I said "Hi puppy" walking by, and he acted like he wanted to rip my arm off. There've been a few nasty labs on "Dog Whisperer".

We have since moved, the attack was a year ago, but we have wild pigs in the area.

I used to see javelinas regularly and they always ran away, but -
A Fountain Hills woman is recovering after she was attacked by a herd of javelinas while walking her dogs last weekend, and wildlife officials say neighbors who were illegally feeding the animals are partly to blame. ...
"We are fortunate that the attack was not worse,” Burnett said. “Attacks by javelina on humans are rare, but when they happen, public safety is our main concern.”

traditionalguy said...

Yorkies can out bark all the other dogs. But their bark is their only dangerous trait.

Fernandinande said...

Luke Lea said...
But to say these differences are environmental rather than genetic in origin is just another example of the science denialism that is de rigeur in polite liberal circles today.


Lysenkoism isn't new, but it is an interesting phenomenon.

robinintn said...

Maybee, my sheltie tries to pull me around by my pant cuff, but she has never put a tooth on my flesh in 5 years.
Michael K, Here in TN, I see a of of retriever/pit mixes, and these are definitely more aggressive, and dangerous because they often do look very retrieverish.

Tinderbox said...

Even if you're one of those people who don't accept that pit-bull spectrum dogs are naturally more aggressive, the difference between them and chihuahua or labrador attacks is that the latter are not likely to result in the death of the victim. The latter don't latch on and never let go, and don't often run in pairs or groups terrorizing neighborhoods.

Pit-bull deniers are similar to vaccine deniers, and flat earthers. No real point in getting in discussions with them.

whitney said...

The Pitbull issue has become cause celebre of single, liberal white women. I work in pet care and see it all the time. Portlandia just an episode about it

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Read an anecdote in a book on training dogs by someone with a Phd in some animal related discipline, don't remember what. She took clients that were having problems with their dog. One time a woman came in and said that her dog was growling and threatening her. She couldn't be in the same room with it. (I can't imagine why she didn't just get rid of it.) When asked what she did when the dog menaced her she said she threw it food she always kept on her so she could duck out of the room.

Some people simply shouldn't own dogs.

On the Pit Bull front, I have been around quite a few Pit Bulls and they have all been friendly and peaceable. But, I have never owned one and have no intention of doing so.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

The Pitbull issue has become cause celebre of single, liberal white women.

For Pit Bulls or against?

Kevin said...

Imagine the shame of the pointer who prefers to retrieve.

JPS said...

A few years ago, the wife went to a shelter to adopt a black-lab-ish mutt, whose picture reminded her of a beloved, departed black-lab-ish mutt. He was irreplaceable, but we wanted to honor him by giving another dog the good life.

She brought her home and realized two things: This is not the dog in the picture; this dog is in significant part pit bull.

This being a breed neither of us knew at all, outside of horror stories like those posted by Virgil Hilts above, we hit the internet, and discovered three basic camps: 1) They're all innately vicious and should be destroyed; 2) Pure slander: There are no bad dogs, only bad owners; 3) Help, I just adopted a sort-of-pit-bull, how worried should I be?

(I also came across a lot of fresh horror stories. Some of them involved pit bulls attacking humans. Others involved humans committing horrible abuse against pit bulls. Because they're all bad, you see, so it's OK; because they should all be destroyed anyway, so what does it matter if I torture this one? And I think, in a Far Side-like switch, of a website for dogs, warning them about people, collecting stories of people being vicious to perfectly sweet dogs; sharing them: You see? They're dangerous!)

When I first came home to meet our new mutt, she tried to defend my wife (her savior) from me. My wife made a point of showing I was welcome. The dog and I slowly got to know each other. She sat a little too close, really staring at me, and I thought, Are you trying to figure me out, or considering ripping my face off? I tried to break the ice, got up, picked up a stick to play fetch. She cringed and cried, having had a different experience of sticks than I intended.

Wife took her to the vet. She mentioned that we were thinking of taking her back to the shelter. Why would you do that? the tech asked. Well, she's kind of a pit bull. And we have kids. "This is a sweet dog," the tech said firmly. "Yes, but we're not sure we're OK with this." "That's your problem, not hers. This is a sweet dog. And I'll take her if you don't want her."

We kept her. And a stick is something to be happy about now. She loves people. I have to watch her around dogs she doesn't know, and I do. I don't leave the kids alone with her because I don't leave kids alone with dogs, period. I'm sorry other people's dogs, her distant cousins, have hurt other people and dogs.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Take THAT Charles Murray! Genetics and heritable traits have nothing to do with phenotype or behavior.
The science is settled.

Well, except "Pointers who have been highly selected for pointing will perhaps have a knack for pointing based on the breeder and the processes of selection." So...I guess it doesn't play any role at all, except for the (undefined) role it does play.

Science!

~ Gordon Pasha said...

The gene for ADD must be next to the gene for seeking game on English Cocker Spaniels, and I had a Lab with OCD as far as retrieving is concerned. I have a 3 year old Wire Haired Pointing Griffon that needed no instruction on pointing, backing, or retrieving. We are working on steady to wing and shot. All of the dogs have come out of hunt test/field trial/NAVHDA competitors. You buy genetics when you buy a dog.

whitney said...

"Blogger Ron Winkleheimer said...
The Pitbull issue has become cause celebre of single, liberal white women.

For Pit Bulls or against?"

For.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I have a stray that I think is part catahoula judging from her coloring. That is a breed that is not recognized by the AKA that is a herder. Cattle and pigs specifically. They herd animals by nipping them. In fact, my wife and I first encountered her while walking our dog around the neighborhood and she was trying to herd an older gentleman who was out for his walk. I had to train her out of that right away. I'm still cautious when we are around people who are running and biking.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catahoula_Cur



Matthew Sablan said...

"I don't leave the kids alone with her because I don't leave kids alone with dogs, period."

-- Generally good advice; sure, you might have a sweet dog, and it might be a sweet kid, but you know, an adult in the room never hurts.

Henry said...

Shouldn't that be "Pit bulls pit?"

Spaniels span, Poodles poo, Lhasa Apsos lhas around.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

When I first came home to meet our new mutt, she tried to defend my wife (her savior) from me.

I tried to break the ice, got up, picked up a stick to play fetch. She cringed and cried, having had a different experience of sticks than I intended.


It was most likely a guy that hit her with a stick.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Take THAT Charles Murray! Genetics and heritable traits have nothing to do with phenotype or behavior.
The science is settled.

Well, except "Pointers who have been highly selected for pointing will perhaps have a knack for pointing based on the breeder and the processes of selection." So...I guess it doesn't play any role at all, except for the (undefined) role it does play."

It seems there's an easy way to sort this all out. Get a bulldog puppy and try to teach it to point. Get a border collie puppy and try to teach it not to herd. Get a West Highland White terrier and try to teach it to herd, not dig. Get an Airedale, who are normally devoted to their owners and families and not terribly interested in attention from other people, and try to make it act as friendly to strangers as Golden Retrievers normally are. Get a Golden and try to make it act aloof and wary of strangers.

If you can get dogs to act counter to what they have actually been bred for than I guess this guy is right and breeding doesn't matter. But I suspect it would be very difficult to get a bulldog to act like a pointer and for a Golden to act like an Airedale.

Michael K said...

Juliet and her new home.

I had posted some photos of her when she was injured last year. We really worried about her as she was wrapped up like a mummy and then went out in the yard and dug herself a little burrow where she stayed for several days.

Fortunately she was OK and has not changed her personality. She is another rescue, from a basset rescue shelter that has 100 basset hounds. I have gotten two bassets as rescues and two as puppies. They are my favorite breed although if you are looking for a very active dog, they are probably not the first choice. They sleep about 23 hours a day.

She is 50 pounds and eats almost that much a day and doesn't gain anything. I don't know where it goes. My previous basset was 85 pounds and much larger. He could snatch a package of ham off the kitchen counter while you looked the other way. They are big dogs with short legs.

Beach Brutus said...

Try these two sites:

http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2014.php


http://www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org/author/pitbullvictim/

Expat(ish) said...

re: Pit Bulls attack X and do Y.

Huh, well, it happens, and it may happen more with bigger dogs, I dunno. I had an Airedale terrier (rescue) who accidentally nipped me once on my hand. Put his canine right through my palm easy as pie.

He looked horrified.

I'm careful of any large dog, because they are large dogs. I change my careful level based on the owner.

+_XC

Michael said...

Pointers actually do point, retrievers actually do retrieve. Whether or not pit bulls are innately inclined to fight I wouldn't know but the logic of using the saying to debunk what is bred in the bone of the two sporting dogs is weak. Applying "nuance" to debunk is also weak. Pit bulls did not become ubiquitous until a few years ago. I probably never saw one until 20 years ago and now I see them all the time. Pointers and setters and retrievers have been doing their thing for a long long time.

Roughcoat said...

Again: breeding matters, hugely and bigly.

Case in point: The so-called "Border War" between the two major (and affiliated) border collie organizations (USBCHA and ABCA) on the one hand and the AKC on the other. Members of the USBCHA/ABCA (I belong to both) are at daggers drawn with the AKC. Because the AKC breeds for confirmation (looks) whereas we breed for behavior. This was not a problem because for the longest time the AKC didn't recognize the border collie as a distinct breed. We were happy about that because it meant the AKC people wouldn't get their dirty paws on BCs and breed the sheepherding behavior for the sake of making them all look the same for their stupid dog shows. But that changed in 1995 and we've been at war with the AKC ever since. Our BCs adhere to a common "template," if you will, but come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations; because we breed them for work not for looks. AKC border collies pretty much all look the same, and it isn't a good look, they're more blunt-faced than ours dogs, e.g. In our breed registries we forbid registration of any border collie that has a record of AKC breeding in its lineage, and for good reason: because breeding matters, and AKC "conformation breeding" will breed herding right out of them.

mockturtle said...

"Blogger Ron Winkleheimer said...
The Pitbull issue has become cause celebre of single, liberal white women.

For Pit Bulls or against?"

For.


Because they don't like children.

Michael K said...

"Again: breeding matters, hugely and bigly."

I remember when a friend had two Dobermans. Those dogs had a bad reputation for years and he told me that breeders could not sell them. They eventually bred them to be gentle and the breed changed to a gentle family dog. I'm sure that can be done but I have not been around dobermans in years. I think they got the reputation and just got much less popular.

A lot of pit bulls are owned by sketchy types, to guard drugs, etc.

Michael K said...

"Because they don't like children."

Another blog, a movie blog, mentioned that Elsa Lancaster, a very popular actress in the 30s, said once that she had "held a baby once and it felt like a hot sack of wiggling snakes."

Not the mother type.

Roughcoat said...

Michael K:

I think you're right about Dobermans. When I was a kid they had a rather fearsome reputation, much the same as pit bulls now, and I don't know if it was deserved. But all the Dobes I've encountered over the past several decades have invariably been sweet and docile. Maybe they always were like that or maybe the aggressiveness has been bred out of them, I don't know. I am very careful around them regardless. They're big and powerful, all muscle, with famously strong bites, and I don't want to take any chances with them.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

AKC "conformation breeding" will breed herding right out of them.

And plenty of genetic issues in.

David said...

We have a sheepdog mix that has no idea what to do with a sheep or any other animal that might be herded. She looks like an Aussie. She acts like the couch potato dog that she actually is. She also has no inclination whatsoever to bite humans, so all was successful.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Roughcoat, I remember reading an op-ed piece in the WSJ about the battle between border collie organizations and the AKC. The writer used Irish setters as an example of what happens when the AKC breeds for looks instead of brains.

(I do like Irish setters. They're daffy, but sweet. But apparently not as smart as they used to be.)

madAsHell said...

AKC "conformation breeding" will breed herding right out of them

My first Jack Russell came from a 4H family. That dog would kill everything.

My second Jack came from a breeder. The breeder was all about conformance. Needless to say, that dog don't hunt.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Jack Russell came from a 4H family. That dog would kill everything.

We had a half Jack Russell, half fence jumper. She was a fearless little thing. Got rope burns one time from her leash when she decided to tackle a Doberman. They were originally bred to follow foxes down holes and fight them. That's why the preferred color is mostly white. So you can more easily spot them while digging down into the hole.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Blogger Ron Winkleheimer said...
The Pitbull issue has become cause celebre of single, liberal white women.

For Pit Bulls or against?"

For.


4/3/17, 12:22 PM


It's the same instinct that makes single, liberal women mysteriously fond of Muslim refugees and illegals.

Gabriel said...

Pit bulls are disproportionately represented in attacks on humans, and when they attack a human they do much more damage. Yes, there are chihuahuas that are aggressive and pit bulls that are peaceful.

Here's a pro-pit bull site talking about a "break stick" and how every responsible pit bull owner should have one. You insert it in between the dog's teeth to break the grip so you can pull the dog off.

Using a break stick on other dog breeds will get you badly injured, because they will snap. Pit bulls don't snap, they grab and shake and don't let go.

Roughcoat said...

Ron Winkleheimer:

Precisely. We work to expand genetic diversity in BCs, whereas the AKC narrows diversity by focusing exclusively on conformity. As a result our BC are generally healthier in mind and body, and more capable as working dogs, than AKC border collies.

I have a better knowledge of the lineage of my two BCs than I do of my own lineage!

tim in vermont said...

It was a lot easier to teach my Lab not to kill chickens than my terrier. And I once drove home drunk and never killed anybody so you anti drunk driving people are all nuts with an agenda.

Roughcoat said...

exileonmainstreet:

I think I remember that WSJ article. For a time German shepherds became very popular and as a result became overbred, consequently the breed began to manifest various genetic defects, particularly in their hindquarters. But it seems lately (I mean c. the past 20 years or so) the breed has been improved. I've seen numerous German shepherds working sheep and they're excellent -- their herding style is different from that of border collies, they're "stand up" herders -- but they get the job done in fine fashion. They are also incredibly intelligent, like border collies.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Of course, none of this logic applies to humans. Various groups (ethnic, gender, etc.) don't have a greater genetic disposition towards certain types of behavior, right?

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Hearne's Law: if there's a stink in the media about something, it's because some politician or charity wants a stink in the media about it."

Yeah, some guy has pointed out hundreds if not thousands of times soap companies want to sell the damn soap, so the media stink goes out and putrifies the air with the only escape soap. Lots, and lots, and lots of soap. Liquids of differing scents and consistencies, hard soaps, additives like phosphate for clothes washers, it doesn't matter if it can just sell.

I bet even Coupe uses scented soaps they are that popular.

Francisco D said...

I grew up with Doberman Pinschers. They are wonderful dogs genetically bred to guard their masters.

One of my Dobes nearly tore off the arm of a kid who approached us from behind. We paid a small fortune in medical bills.

I have since owned five Golden Retrievers and a German Shorthair Pointer. They were also wonderful dogs, but I never had to worry about them mauling anyone.

Pit bulls worry me.

Dennis P. said...

I'm surprised I haven't read a pro-pitbull person drop the "nursemaid dog" trope in the comments yet. It's an atrocious myth with no historical backing. The first reference doesn't occur until 1971. In point of fact, the Victorian breeders of the dogs were quite prideful in how vicious they were.


http://thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspot.com/2010/08/nanny-dog-myth-revealed.html

Tarrou said...

This is very simple and very well established. Group differences in genetic predisposition. Yes, you may get a real soft Pitbull, or you might get a very aggressive Lab. But the distributions will be very skewed. And at the extreme ends of the bell curves, you're going to have almost exclusively nice, docile labs and incredibly vicious pits.

Group differences don't tell us much about individuals. Do you know if a given dog is mean or nice based on what breed it is? No, you have to interact with the individual. But as a population, you can absolutely make a judgement.

People are eminently capable of understanding this very simple and ubiquitous statistical concept. If you encounter someone ignoring it, they are doing so on purpose.

Fernandinande said...

Gabriel said...
Here's a pro-pit bull site talking about a "break stick" and how every responsible pit bull owner should have one. You insert it in between the dog's teeth to break the grip so you can pull the dog off.


I carry a "break pistol" to insert a bullet between a pit bull's eyes, should the occasion arise.

mockturtle said...

I carry a "break pistol" to insert a bullet between a pit bull's eyes, should the occasion arise.

Effective and permanent!

Mary Beth said...

Here's a pro-pit bull site talking about a "break stick" and how every responsible pit bull owner should have one. You insert it in between the dog's teeth to break the grip so you can pull the dog off.

I'll pass on the pibble. I would prefer to be a responsible owner of a dog that didn't require me keeping a stick around to pry its jaws open "just in case".

Fritz said...

The correct answer to "nature vs. nurture?" is yes.

gadfly said...

Since 1998, 309 deaths by pit bull bites have occurred. The dog breeds most responsible for the bulk of the homicides are pit bulls and Rottweilers which accounted for 76% of deaths between 2005 and 2016.

Jase Patrick Fohs is the 509th recorded killing by a pit bull in the U.S. The 8-Month-old baby boy was killed by the family pit bull in Calvert County, Maryland.

Why would anyone want a pit bull or Rottweiler? My neighbor across the street breeds pit bulls and sells puppies. The puppies are not even cute.

tim in vermont said...

They want them to protect their meth lab.

walter said...

Blogger Michael K said...
"Again: breeding matters, hugely and bigly."
I remember when a friend had two Dobermans. Those dogs had a bad reputation for years and he told me that breeders could not sell them. They eventually bred them to be gentle and the breed changed to a gentle family dog
--
Hmmm..there's a McMansion nearby in the modest rural area I live. They had their Dobermans in the set back from road front yard when I pedaled by on my bicycle, clearly upsetting them. I was nowhere near the house and they certainly appeared to be wanting to attack if I hadn't quadrupled my speed. I usually did a loop, returning past that house. When I did, they were waiting. Had to take the long way home.


Blogger whitney said...
The Pitbull issue has become cause celebre of single, liberal white women.
--
Yeah..pretty much. A combination of need to reform/tame a bad boy as well as a desire to prove up is down etc. Though a strongly conservative Madison AM talker is a fan as well...probably turned that way after she saw Act 10 antics at the capitol.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I will add one of the greatest dogs I ever saw was a pit. Runty for a pit, he was a brilliant dog, loyal to a disturbing degree.

He spent literally 23 hours a day with his master, for many years.

I had to break up a fight between it and a Mastiff. I found out the easy way, by the owner of the Mastiff calling me a bleeping idiot, that there are much, much harder ways to learn to not get in between two dogs of this nature when they fight.

Mastiff was inbred and stupid, drool down to the floor after every time he took a drink.

But oh that little, loyal, much-loved pit. You could see and feel the adrenaline surging through him, even when he was "chilling out." He could hang from a branch and be swung around at lighting speed as a party joke. People, stupid even when sober in the main, would get drunk and tease him and he would look around for his master, but never hurt anyone. He could drag, being about 50 lbs, damn near anything he wanted to, way exceeding what one would think based on physics.

When we dogsit one time, once, for a single night, he sat in a corner the entire time and wouldn't respond to anyone, or eat anything including meat, or even go outside to urinate. When his master got back, the dog jumped up on him and was so excited he pissed down the front of our friend's shirt. Touching moment. We cleaned it up too without any bitching.

walter said...

That's admirable. Just don't leave him with a little kid. Loyal to a disturbing degree can be..dangerously disturbing.

ceowens said...

Border Collie doing a bit of 'erding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y07at1bU89Q

If you absolutely must get a dog to release its grip, if there is any type of collar, straddle the dog and tighten the collar with a death grip. Do not let go.

Mr. Majestyk said...

As there are a lot of people commenting here who know dogs, anyone have any thoughts on Rhodesian Ridgebacks? Do you need a six foot fence? Do you have to run them miles every day? I live in the burbs with a 1/3 acre backyard and two kids.

Greg Hlatky said...

AKC "conformation breeding" will breed herding right out of them.

And plenty of genetic issues in.


Bullshit.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I was bit by a RR.

The homeowner told me she was trained to guard the house at all costs, and I was cautious enough on day one, but I had to comeback because of weather and forgot how serious it took security, when I walked inside and got bit.

No growl. No tail wag. No nothing but a WTF ARE YOU DOING HERE??? look from the dog.

I said "Hello" and homeowner says "Oh my dog will bite you let me put him out" but it was too late.

Four little blood marks, nothing violent, more out of sorrow it seemed to me than anger was the RR I met.

Sadly they didn't have the dog when I returned a year later.

Perhaps if I wasn't wearing shorts...

Mr. Majestyk said...

If the dog was "trained to guard the house at all costs," but all you got was "four little blood marks," "nothing violent," that doesn't sound like an inherently violent breed. Still, I am sorry you got bit.

walter said...

Right. That sounds like a warning. I don't think those happen with Pits.

Jamie said...

As Heinlein said, if it was all about environment you could teach calculus to a horse.

I grew up reading Big Red, Irish Red, and the third of that series (Something Red that I'm blanking out on), fell in love with Irish setters without ever actually laying eyes on one in the flesh, and was devastated to discover, as referenced up-thread, that breeding for looks had bred out all their intelligence and abilities. I understand there's an organization for Irish similar to the BC one mentioned above, that crosses them with (I think) English setters in order to breed some smarts back into them. Those crosses are, I gathered, excellent bird dogs again.

Aaaand... we recently got a teeny puppy from the SPCA who is a "terrier mix," which we interpret to mean "mom is a terrier, dad is unknown." Four of that litter of 6 looked like little Jacks; she and her remaining sibling looked like tiny German shepherds. I'm hoping she does have some shepherd in her so that she won't just be terrier-independent. I deliberately picked the most submissive of that litter, in any case... I'm slightly worried because I myself have never been primarily responsible for dog training (lots of dogs in childhood).

Rusty said...

Doc. I havre known pit bulls that are the biggest pussies. Safe around children and strangers. I've had Labrador Retrievers that didn't. Despite all the training wouldn't retrieve a duck in a mill pond, but would go over a waterfall for a tennis ball. And pointers that couldn't find their own food bowl.
It all depends on how their raised. A lot of dog behavior is the owners fault. Like our Siberian Husky rescue dog. When we got her she had never lived inside. At two years old we had to house train her. She was afraid of people. Now she just a big lap dog who adores having people-any people- pet her.
Owners are the problem.

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Lost My Cookies said...

My weirdo half cocker half skunk mutt will point, retrieve, and fight. Sometimes all at once and on the rug.

James Smith said...

Jamie
Irish Setters are being crossed with Irish Retrievers. The IR is relatively unknown in the US but the two breeds are believed to share common ancestors.

If anyone wants to see what a magnificent dog Rottweilers really are, find one with 100% German or Austrian bloodlines. It is like a whole separate breed apart from US dogs. US Rotts are big, clumsy, stupid and aggressive. American breeders have ruined a number of breeds. Hip Dysplasia runs thru almost every med to large breed. It is entirely genetic and could be eliminated with proper breeding.

People sometimes get bit because they do stupid things. Like pet or try to interact with someone's dog without permission. "Dogs like me" is the equivalent of "Here, hold my beer and watch this."

James Smith said...

Mr Majestyk
Ridgebacks were bred to protect livestock - and people - from lions. They are smart, highly independent and fiercely protective. If you get one, I would suggest a professional trainer. They need to be socialized to other animals and people. and it needs to be reinforced. I know 2 families with RRs, and they have had no problems at all. They are great dogs, but you need to understand what they are to handle them properly.

James Smith said...

Roughcoat
If you ever want to stir up a hornet's nest with the AKC types, just point out that having AKC papers does not guarantee you have a purebred of any particular breed. There was a court case some years ago that reached that conclusion. Still good for a laugh or two.

Jose_K said...

Yes, it is part of the DNA

Che Dolf said...

xiledonmainstreet said... It seems there's an easy way to sort this all out. Get a bulldog puppy and try to teach it to point. Get a border collie puppy and try to teach it not to herd. Get a West Highland White terrier and try to teach it to herd, not dig.

Greg Cochran: "Daniel Freedman was a professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago. For his doctoral thesis, he did adoption studies with dogs. He had noticed that different dog breeds had different personalities, and thought it would be interesting to see if personality was inborn, or if it was somehow caused by the way in which the mother raised her puppies. Totally inborn. Little beagles were irrepressibly friendly. Shetland sheepdogs were most sensitive to a loud voice or the slightest punishment. Wire-haired terriers were so tough and aggressive that Dan had to wear gloves when playing with puppies that were only three weeks old. Basenjis were aloof and independent. He decided to try the same thing with human infants of different breeds. Excuse me, different races..."