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Good dog or bad dog? New study shows that breed isn't really a predictor of behavior


beecee
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A new genetic study involving more than 2,000 dogs and 200,000 survey answers from dog owners has revealed that a dog's breed is a poor predictor of behavior on its own.

The first-of-its-kind, peer-reviewed study—conducted by professors, students and researchers at University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School—is set to appear this month in the journal Science.

The major findings go against the popular beliefs that breed plays a role in how aggressive, obedient or affectionate a dog can be. Those stereotypes can prompt breed-specific legislation, insurance restrictions and home bans for some dog breeds, including pit bulls and German Shepherds.

more at link.....................

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I could have told them that. Having been the owner of a Labrador, German Shepard, two Rottweilers, and now two miniature Dachsunds, and never once having anything that even looked like a problem with any of those dogs at least.

Yes, a person to own any large dog breed, or any breed for that matter, should have to undergo a phycological test methinks.

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On 4/26/2022 at 4:35 PM, beecee said:

The major findings go against the popular beliefs that breed plays a role in how aggressive, obedient or affectionate a dog can be.

It doesn't change my opinion on how dangerous a dog breed is.  Sure any dog can be aggressive but I would much rather get attacked by a Pekingese than a Pit Bull.

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17 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

It doesn't change my opinion on how dangerous a dog breed is.  Sure any dog can be aggressive but I would much rather get attacked by a Pekingese than a Pit Bull.

That goes without saying. My point though, the real danger is the irresponsible, ignorant dog owner.

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On 4/29/2022 at 8:58 PM, beecee said:

That goes without saying. My point though, the real danger is the irresponsible, ignorant dog owner.

I don't think you have demonstrated your point. Let's assume the study's finding is accurate: breed does not predict behaviour. However, that is not the same as genetics does not predict behaviour. i.e. you exclude the possibility that a combination of genes, which might occur in a variety of breeds, could result in a tendency to aggression. This is the old nature vs. nurture argument. I readily accept the nurture role, as represented by the owners, but I don't see - on the information presented so far - that nature is excluded.

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13 minutes ago, Area54 said:

I don't think you have demonstrated your point. Let's assume the study's finding is accurate: breed does not predict behaviour. However, that is not the same as genetics does not predict behaviour. i.e. you exclude the possibility that a combination of genes, which might occur in a variety of breeds, could result in a tendency to aggression. This is the old nature vs. nurture argument. I readily accept the nurture role, as represented by the owners, but I don't see - on the information presented so far - that nature is excluded.

I'm not rejecting the facts that genetics and the combination of genes etc do not predict behaviour. I am simply saying that some people should not own dogs (any dogs!) as they have no idea how to raise and train them. I'm also saying that even the most known aggressive breeds like say as an example, the American Pit Bull, in the right hands of an owner that assumes from puppy stage training noting who is the alpha in the relationship, along with plenty of TLC and common sense, will more then likely see a trouble free relationship.

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1 minute ago, beecee said:

I am simply saying that some people should not own dogs (any dogs!) as they have no idea how to raise and train them.

I am in complete agreement with this point. I simply challenged the absolutism of your assertion that the research fully supported your position. It doesn't.

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Try cosying up to a chow chow, when you aren't in its family.

☺️ Funny you raise that. We had Chinese neighbours who had a Chow Chow. I would often pat it through our common fence, when "it felt like it" Other times it would give me a smug look of nonchalance, ignore me and walk away. A beautiful animal that as far as I know, the owners had no problem with.

8 minutes ago, Area54 said:

I am in complete agreement with this point. I simply challenged the absolutism of your assertion that the research fully supported your position. It doesn't.

 

8 minutes ago, Area54 said:

I am in complete agreement with this point. I simply challenged the absolutism of your assertion that the research fully supported your position. It doesn't.

Perhaps I may have over stated my assertion, but I really get bloody annoyed with some people and the way they treat their dogs. 

Edited by beecee
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11 minutes ago, beecee said:

☺️ Funny you raise that. We had Chinese neighbours who had a Chow Chow. I would often pat it through our common fence, when "it felt like it" Other times it would give me a smug look of nonchalance, ignore me and walk away. A beautifal animal that as far as I know, the owners had no problem with.

Yeah, they aren't aggressive in the sense that they'll bite you on sight but the two I know will politely put their teeth on your hand if you try and stroke them. As long as you ignore them they'll even lie down near you. They aren't instinctively sociable like, say,  a Staffordshire. That is a dog that's made/nurtured to be fierce by their owner, aggression towards people is not part of their usual behaviour. I think there are general behavioural  trends with breeds.

Edited by StringJunky
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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

That is a dog that's made to be fierce by their owner, aggression towards people is not part of their usual behaviour. I think there are general trends with breeds.

Totally agree!! And the reason why I am obsessed with "owners" when ever I hear of a Dog attack. Had a mate who had a Staffordshire Terrier, and it was the most lovable thing you could imagine. I said it once before, having over the years been an owner of a Labrador, German Shepard, two Rotty's and now two miniature Dachy's, I have never looked like having any problem with any. Funnily enough, the hardest to train was my first dog, a golden Labrador. They seem to maintain their "puppy stage" for longer periods. Easiest train? Both the Rotty's I had, and still my favourites...Incredible breed!!!

My second Rotty who died at the ripe old age of 13.5 years.......

20 Best Guard Dog Breeds, According To Expert Dog Trainers_2

Often on a Sunday arvo when the Mrs was at church, I would be sitting back in my ezi-boy, sucking on a can of VB, watching the footy, with Rocky laying at my feet, licking my  toe jam! 😊 Still the best dog I have ever owned.

Edited by beecee
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Yes owners are a big part of the problem, but don't underestimate the stupidity of some encountering dogs, and the effects of unfamiliarity with them.

Dogs in the past were often much more a part of society that even non- owners were likely to encounter free roaming daily so that an understanding of behavior on both the dogs part and their communities was just another part of social proficiency.

Thats changed enormously  in most Western communities, to varying degrees. Dogs are generally less familiar with people and situations out side their family circle and territory, and I would say a majority of people are no longer able to 'read' a dog and its state of mind effectively to avoid putting themselves into a bad situation.

Its  easier for temperamental unsoundness to be masked from those making breeding selections, and in Pedigree dogs at least, the 'standard' is more often the over riding selection criteria before any other trait can even be considered as it is.

I've seen some pretty dangerous and dumb behavior from people, and I believe its mostly a case of being unfamiliar with the species. As owner/breeder of personal protection and service dogs though, I do understand how easy it is to put all the responsibility on owners  when I hear repeatedly the old BS about not letting any one else pat or interact with the dog or it won't do its job when extensive socialization is what allows it to do the job most effectively and safely.

A personal protection dog is useless if it has to spend most of its life confined in the back yard or a pen and is beyond reach when needed.

 

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When I was a kid dogs would follow me when I went fishing. I would set out with my fishing pole and walk a few miles to the river, along the way I would always pick up an entourage of dogs from houses along the way. They would sit with me while I fished, wrestle with each other and chase rabbits. When I went home the dogs would cut out of the "pack" as I passed the houses where they lived. My grand father was the same way, dogs just seemed to like him and me as well. I have no idea why, some of the dogs were big others were small, mostly hounds but a few others as well. 

I spent much of my adult life raising basset hounds as pets, weird dogs for sure. Many people think they are dumb... not true they just don't care to please like many dogs do. They are very self centered and distant unless they want something. I had some bassets that were almost too lazy to live, others that were active and aggressive. All of them adhered to the pack mentality, individually they were shy and barked incessantly at anything strange. In a group they became almost of one mind and few other dogs would want to approach them, a ring of barking bassets circling around you is an impressive and frightening thing.  When I walked them they would always walk around me and stay between me and any other animal or person who approached. their behavior in a group and individually was like night and day. 

As individuals they were easily frightened, mostly with a couple of notable exceptions, but as a pack they were a force to be reckoned with.    

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Moontanman said:

When I was a kid dogs would follow me when I went fishing.

😊 I also have that rather pleasant affinity with dogs.

2 hours ago, naitche said:

Yes owners are a big part of the problem, but don't underestimate the stupidity of some encountering dogs, and the effects of unfamiliarity with them.

I've seen some pretty dangerous and dumb behavior from people, and I believe its mostly a case of being unfamiliar with the species.

Children of course need to be supervised with dogs of all sizes and breeds. 

I have a habit of approaching nearly all dogs I see, walking with their owners, or out by themselves. As I am confident you already know, you never approach a strange dog with an arm outstretched and open hand...that may appear threatening. Always approach them with your hand closed slightly showing the dog the back of your hand and offer it to them to smell.

WRONG:

Close up of insecure dog showing teeth to stranger who approaching with  hand to animal outside Stock Photo - Alamy

CORRECT:

image.jpeg.4b2f1a7380767ae97c2973fbdbd7804e.jpeg

 

Other worthwhile tips are (1) if the dog has eyes wide opened appearing concerned and/or worried, let it be. (2) If the tail is tucked between his legs also a sign of nervousness by the dog. (3) Always approach with the hand as shown, slowly. then (4) allow the dog to take the last step or so to sniff your hand. (5) Get as close down to the dog's level as is possible. 

Also I failed to mention the more obvious...If the hair on the dog's back is raised, or if it is showing its teeth...these are warning signs!

image.jpeg

Edited by beecee
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Moontanman said:

When I was a kid dogs would follow me when I went fishing. I would set out with my fishing pole and walk a few miles to the river, along the way I would always pick up an entourage of dogs from houses along the way. They would sit with me while I fished, wrestle with each other and chase rabbits. When I went home the dogs would cut out of the "pack" as I passed the houses where they lived. My grand father was the same way, dogs just seemed to like him and me as well. I have no idea why, some of the dogs were big others were small, mostly hounds but a few others as well. 

I spent much of my adult life raising basset hounds as pets, weird dogs for sure. Many people think they are dumb... not true they just don't care to please like many dogs do. They are very self centered and distant unless they want something. I had some bassets that were almost too lazy to live, others that were active and aggressive. All of them adhered to the pack mentality, individually they were shy and barked incessantly at anything strange. In a group they became almost of one mind and few other dogs would want to approach them, a ring of barking bassets circling around you is an impressive and frightening thing.  When I walked them they would always walk around me and stay between me and any other animal or person who approached. their behavior in a group and individually was like night and day. 

As individuals they were easily frightened, mostly with a couple of notable exceptions, but as a pack they were a force to be reckoned with.    

Such a unique relationship experienced this way. They can be such cruisy companions even in large groups, centered 'round a figure of trust and respect. Take that sound center out though, and the pack is volatile as a mob. Very similar social structures as a true companion species in many ways.

We forget our manners and communication skills with each other, with lessened exposure. 

As an aside, service dog seems to mean military other places, so maybe I should have described the dogs in my previous post as  ....Not therapy dogs, but with  some of the same capabilities to serve more generally useful roles as well.

Edited by naitche
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A friend visited Istanbul and mentioned how respected and well integrated into urban life are the stray dogs.  What was interesting is the friend is not a dog person, and often seems to provoke dogs to bark as he passes by, and yet he found the Istanbul dogs to be quite friendly, to the point of hanging out with him and allowing neck rubs, ear scratching, etc.  

I am more a dog person, and can relate to the approach tips offered by @beecee.  I was taught those at a young age, and rarely had problems with dogs.  I find the simplest way to codify dog etiquette is just to think of them as people.  Then you ask the right questions of yourself when meeting a dog, e.g. would I want a stranger to walk up and place their hand on my head without permission?  

BTW there's a docu on the Istanbul dogs...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2021/03/18/istanbul-turkey-dogs-stray-documentary/

 

ISTANBUL — Forget the majestic mosques and bustling bazaars. Over the centuries, one of the things that has most consistently captured the imagination of foreign travelers to Istanbul has been … the street dogs.

“The dogs sleep in the streets, all over the city. … They would not move, though the Sultan himself passed by,” Mark Twain wrote in 1867.

Amply documented in both 19th century lithographs and 21st century viral videos, Istanbul’s street dogs can today be found patiently waiting to cross at green lights, hitching ferry rides across the Bosporus, marching with protesters and lapping up leftovers and attention outside sidewalk cafes.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Lo, whose documentary “Stray” had its U.S. streaming release earlier this month, is the latest visitor to fall under the spell of the city’s canine cohort. Lo says she was struck by “seeing dogs roaming around freely, living life on their own terms, in this very developed city,” and by the relationship she observed between them and Istanbul’s human residents.

“People really see a dignity in the dogs, they see them as fellow citizens, as belonging to their streets and communities,” she says.

@Moontanman

Plus one for the mental image rendered by

"....a ring of barking bassets circling around you is an impressive and frightening thing."

Your appraisal of the solo Basset "personality" is consistent with Bassets I've encountered.  Haven't met up with a pack of them.  I think the palpable air of melancholy could be intense.

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37 minutes ago, TheVat said:

 

@Moontanman

Plus one for the mental image rendered by

"....a ring of barking bassets circling around you is an impressive and frightening thing."

Your appraisal of the solo Basset "personality" is consistent with Bassets I've encountered.  Haven't met up with a pack of them.  I think the palpable air of melancholy could be intense.

Believe it or not the melancholy is mostly a look, they are lazy and the look contributes to the profound dignity/silliness of the breed.  

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