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Thread: Bondi Vet - Anti-pitbull Episode Leaving Me Aghast

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    Regardless, that behavior and physique has been selected for hundreds of generations...
    Are you seriously going to limit this to Pit Bull/ Bully breeds? How about Dobermanns? German Shepherds? Rottweilers? Malinois?
    They're the first ones off the top of my head... those breeds have physique and behaviour/ temperament traits that have also been deliberately selected for over generations, too.
    Not a single one of these breeds automatically "knows how" to bite and maintain a grip... that is the result of selection in breeding for certain traits as well as long term training.

    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    Its true that many Pit Bulls have low human aggression, but as a Vet I am very wary of them as they can turn quite suddenly. High dog aggression/low human aggression is the result of intense selection pressure (kill the dogs which die or lose a fight). This has not necessarily been maintained, and there are MANY fearful and anxious Pit Bulls (and crosses, which adds a wildcard factor) in the community which are physically capable and mentally predisposed to being both animal and human aggressive.
    As a qualified dog trainer, and studying behviourist, I disagree that ANY dog "turns" suddenly without adequate warning via body langauge. Humans are excessively bad at reading body langauge and often miss the signs making it look like the dog "turned" when in fact he had been "warning you" for quite a while beforehand!
    As for anxious Pitty's and crosses which are "physically capable and mentally predisposed..." you could quite adequately say that for over 95% of dog breeds. I've been bitten by numerous dogs, the vast majority being small breeds with a few Goldens, Labs and Border's thrown in for good measure.

    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    Other breeds have similar issues, its just a power thing.

    Its like comparing a BB gun to an AK 47.
    Some people think all gun ownership should be allowed
    Others think no gun ownership should be permitted.

    Most people come down in the middle:
    some people use guns responsibly for work or recreation, how can we limit the risk while allowing freedom.

    I'm not saying Pit Bulls should be banned, but I wouldn't recommend them as a Pet, just like I wouldn't suggest having a gun in the house, even though most of the time responsible care will prevent a problem. The most likely victim is a member of your own family.
    Following this logic (and knowing that all dogs have teeth and therefore it is like "loading the gun"), you really should not be recommending any dog as a pet, unless it has had its head surgically removed.

    Switzerland has numerous guns in all houses, their "accidental shooting" rate is lowest in the world.

    Why?

    Because people are educated to be careful with a gun whether it is an AK47 OR BB gun

    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    I've met lots of nice Pit Bulls but as often as not I feel like its a highly conditional state, and many have growled or had a go at me. Its not just Pit Bulls (Rottweilers and Shar-peis are comparable) but I don't see the point in denying it and saying "its all the training". Actually no, most dogs can be poorly trained and handled (not abused, just neglected, like most house pets) but not end up genuinely human aggresssive with true potential to cause serious injury.
    So explain this to me: a local Bichon Frise hell bent on biting anyone who walks down his street. He has bitten my mum, a male friend, he even bites his owner. The wounds are not small, dislodging the little bugger when he latches on is bloody hard and painful and this dog will charge you from 50 meters away...

    I suspect the vast majority of dogs (again) have the potential when poorly trained and handled to become genuinely human or animal agressive with potential to cause serious injury. You cannot limit this to just one breed type!

    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    Add to this PB owners seem more likely to be ignorant about training, socialisation, desexing, keeping dogs on leashes and other simple factors which will reduce the likelihood of trouble.... this only adds to their reputation.
    Mmmmm, yes, and add in a few other breeds who suffer from being "preferred" by idiots... Dobes, Rotti's, GSD's...

    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    I've been attacked by a Pit Bill whilst walking my dogs and it was very different to your typical dog attack (eg. from a German Shepherd or Cattle dog: two breeds which are also popular yet frequently aggressive):
    The Pit Bull just trotted up, tail erect, no warning signs (like barking, growling or a stand-off) and attacked unprovoked. Fortunately a security guard was nearby and helped me as the owner was unconcerned.

    This is entirely consistent with the purpose they were bred for.

    Had I been a little old lady or child walking my dog alone this could have been in the papers.
    I'm sorry to hear that you were attacked. Traumatic experience leave indelible traces on our memories and future thoughts. However, I must say it as others have; a dog trotting directly towards me with tail up would have been warning enough to know that something was amiss.

    This, however, is NOT consistent with the breeding purposes of a PitBull.

    Of course, had you been an old lady or child, and this dog was, infact, a Golden Retriever, it would indeed have been reported in the papers and the breed reported as "Pit Bull".

    In all honesty, CairnsVet, I'm of the opinion that you are simply continuing the propagation of hyperbole about the PitBull breed as opposed to acknowledging that the issues identified can and do exist in dogs in general and the only way to avoid attacks and problem behaviours is to educate people about the responsibilities of dog ownership, while discouraging the "idiots" from selecting breeds based on "what makes them look tough".

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keira & Phoenix View Post
    Also would like to say I am sorry that you were attacked it must have been horrifying (as is any dog attack) but as Choppa pointed out the fact the dog trotted up with an erect tail would have been enough warning for me. And what do you mean it was like no other dog attack? How was it different?

    Also you say you don't want the breed banned but for them to not be a pet? So what exactly would you have them as exactly?
    Thanks, it was very distressing but luckily my dogs were only mildly bitten and I wasn't injured.... but only because there was someone else there to help. not the owner mind you: he didn't seem at all concerned! Ironically as well as the Pittie off Leash he had a chihuahua off leash. Had my dogs been off leash they could easily have hurt his smaller dog.

    Clearly I was alarmed by this dog trotting up with his tail erect: but what could I do?
    With most breeds though there is a stand-off period, especially on neutral territory. There is barking, growling and posturing, even after a confident advance.

    I in no way limit my concerns to Pit Bulls, and I have mentioned other breeds which concern me.

    Villain and Flirtt:
    "Not a single one of these breeds automatically "knows how" to bite and maintain a grip... that is the result of selection in breeding for certain traits as well as long term training."
    Yes they do. Its called selective breeding. Its not "knowing how" its behavioral predisposition, verging on instinct, as a results of selective breeding. Think of pointing dogs. Any dog can "point", and its part of normal dog behavior. Some dogs have a stronger tendency to point. Some breeds have been selected for dozens of generations to "point" and consistently do it spontaneously with minimal environmental cues.
    Traits like aggession and attacking and bite behavior have all been subject to
    strong selection to produce distinct breed related behavior and predispositions.

    -Sheep dogs herd (eg collies, kelpies)
    -Cattle dogs Nip ( Australian cattle dogs, often called "Heelers" because they nip the heels of cattle: its hard to herd cattle when you are 2 feet high)
    -Guard dogs bark or attack (eg Shepherds, Dobermans, some of these beeds are also bred to attack intruders, and this increases the risk of human aggression, many others are just designed to raise the alert, such as Shih Tzus, others are more personal protection dogs bred to attack humans (eg Rotties: not their owner hopefully! Some lines within a breed are recognised at being better at barking vs biting: eg G Sheps and dobes).
    -Pointers point (eg. German Shorthaired Pointer)
    -Retrievers Retrieve (eg. labs, goldens)
    -vermin hunter hunt vermin (eg. Jack Russels)
    -sight hounds chase prey (eg afghans, greyhounds)
    -Blood hounds smell
    -Dog fighting breeds (Pit Bull, Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario)

    Any dog can bite, any dog can fight, any dog can bite and not let go. Guess what happens when you breed ruthlessly for these qualities.

    Its quite common for people to have to prise Pit Bulls off their prey (like minutes later, even 1/2 hr): as this is a breed predisposition.

    While it may be inadvised to judge a dog by its breed, its a greater folly to ignore or deny a dogs true nature and predisposition.

    When I say Pit Bulls "turn suddenly". I don't mean I start off trusting them, or handling them carelessly, then get surprised. I mean many of them can appear happy but obviously aroused in a way which in a Staffy or other breed could be harmless nervous excitement, but they can quickly become VERY aggressive without reasonable cause. The ease and magnitude of this transition are what concerns me. This is not the sort of pet I would want, and I am concerned about any dog which does this, regardless of breed. Any dog needs to be "read" and handled thoughtfully. I'm very able to read dog body language: I've treated thousands of them including many dozens of Pit Bulls and crosses.

    This short fuse/high danger potential is why I wouldn't recommend them as pets. Bear in mind people ask my professional opinion on this. I would be negligent if I didn't adequately address the relative risk of issues like potential human and dog aggression, behavior problems, the difficulties of meeting legislation regarding certain breeds, and the likelihood of needing to euthanase a beloved family pet for any of the above. This doesn't mean I want them banned. It means I wouldn't rate them as a good breed to choose as a family pet.

    I would put other breeds in this category (and I mentioned Shar-Pei's and Rottweilers), though with these two health conditions are also a huge factor in me not recommending them.

    There are plenty of other breeds which show aggression regularly and are big and strong enough to cause serious harm. And I would advise against choosing them as a family pet also. This thread was about Pit Bulls and I wanted to address the "its all in the training" myth. (Obviously plenty IS in the training with any dog).

    Of the breeds you mention, I see heaps of Rotteilers and notice they often has marked aggression problems (including biting their owner) as they age: esp from around 8 years. I think in many cases this is pain and dementia related.

    I rarely find Dobermans to be highly aggressive but many are high strung and nervous so show fear aggression.

    German Shepherds very commonly have fear aggression and often have dominance aggression.

    Cattle dogs are frequently quick to bite, as are many small dogs.

    I notice that many people fail to consider these sorts of issues when choosing a dog (they are all cute as puppies), and even more surprising, many people are unconcerned by obvious aggression issues in their dogs, even finding it amusing.

    Keira: I handle dozens of dogs weekly, often in very stressful (for the dog) conditions. That gives me a huge database of dog behavior to work from and compare. I treat heaps of Pit Bulls who seem very nice pets and whose owners love them and have never had any trouble. But this doesn't discount the frequency these dogs present with aggression toward humans and dogs: Far more than most breeds.

    Note also things like aggression are very context dependant, so a dog can react very differently when you introduce a stranger into a yard vs a neighbours child coming into the yard alone for example. (The high pet aggression of some staffies is another example of this: some of the most loving, fun and exuberant staffies turn instantly into uncontrollable cat killing monsters: to the owner's absolute dismay: note these pets don't need to be trained to do this: its in their nature. Many of them could be completely prevented by proper socialisation but its a definite predisposition which stands out in comparison to other breeds.)

    I'm in no way denying there are nice Pit Bulls, but statistically in my experience they are far more likely to problematic than many other breeds (there are other high risk breeds to, but this thread is on Pitt Bulls), and I think we need to take a safety first attitude especially with children.

    There are also nasty dogs of every breed. Sadly people are breeding them right now, because they are blind to the faults of their pet and the breed: We need to be very careful in breeding decisions to prevent these problems as much as possible.
    Last edited by CairnsVet; 03-08-2011 at 12:18 PM.

  3. #63

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    Well as a long term owner(this includes pups) and rescuer I will simply say that you have the complete wrong end of the stick.

    In your limited experience with the breed you are putting your fear into the minds of innocent people .

    And I have to say that many of your statements on other breeds strike me as odd/wrong......the number one dog on bite stats list is the good ole Aussie Cattle dog. So shouldn't you be warning against them ?


    Quite simply it is the way the dog is raised.
    I do not and never will deny my dogs history,however,keep this in mind.
    These dogs were bred to NOT bite humans.
    They are as safe as the next dog with teeth so long as the person holding the other end of the leash raises said dog/pup correctly.
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by CairnsVet View Post
    Thanks, it was very distressing but luckily my dogs were only mildly bitten and I wasn't injured.... but only because there was someone else there to help. not the owner mind you: he didn't seem at all concerned! Ironically as well as the Pittie off Leash he had a chihuahua off leash. Had my dogs been off leash they could easily have hurt his smaller dog.

    Clearly I was alarmed by this dog trotting up with his tail erect: but what could I do?
    With most breeds though there is a stand-off period, especially on neutral territory. There is barking, growling and posturing, even after a confident advance.


    I in no way limit my concerns to Pit Bulls, and I have mentioned other breeds which concern me.

    Villain and Flirtt:
    Yes they do. Its called selective breeding. Its not "knowing how" its behavioral predisposition, verging on instinct, as a results of selective breeding. Think of pointing dogs. Any dog can "point", and its part of normal dog behavior. Some dogs have a stronger tendency to point. Some breeds have been selected for dozens of generations to "point" and consistently do it spontaneously with minimal environmental cues.
    Traits like aggession and attacking and bite behavior have all been subject to
    strong selection to produce distinct breed related behavior and predispositions.

    -Sheep dogs herd (eg collies, kelpies)
    -Cattle dogs Nip ( Australian cattle dogs, often called "Heelers" because they nip the heels of cattle: its hard to herd cattle when you are 2 feet high)
    -Guard dogs bark or attack (eg Shepherds, Dobermans, some of these beeds are also bred to attack intruders, and this increases the risk of human aggression, many others are just designed to raise the alert, such as Shih Tzus, others are more personal protection dogs bred to attack humans (eg Rotties: not their owner hopefully! Some lines within a breed are recognised at being better at barking vs biting: eg G Sheps and dobes).
    -Pointers point (eg. German Shorthaired Pointer)
    -Retrievers Retrieve (eg. labs, goldens)
    -vermin hunter hunt vermin (eg. Jack Russels)
    -sight hounds chase prey (eg afghans, greyhounds)
    -Blood hounds smell
    -Dog fighting breeds (Pit Bull, Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario)

    Any dog can bite, any dog can fight, any dog can bite and not let go. Guess what happens when you breed ruthlessly for these qualities.

    Its quite common for people to have to prise Pit Bulls off their prey (like minutes later, even 1/2 hr): as this is a breed predisposition.

    While it may be inadvised to judge a dog by its breed, its a greater folly to ignore or deny a dogs true nature and predisposition.

    When I say Pit Bulls "turn suddenly". I don't mean I start off trusting them, or handling them carelessly, then get surprised. I mean many of them can appear happy but obviously aroused in a way which in a Staffy or other breed could be harmless nervous excitement, but they can quickly become VERY aggressive without reasonable cause. The ease and magnitude of this transition are what concerns me. This is not the sort of pet I would want, and I am concerned about any dog which does this, regardless of breed. Any dog needs to be "read" and handled thoughtfully. I'm very able to read dog body language: I've treated thousands of them including many dozens of Pit Bulls and crosses.

    This short fuse/high danger potential is why I wouldn't recommend them as pets. Bear in mind people ask my professional opinion on this. I would be negligent if I didn't adequately address the relative risk of issues like potential human and dog aggression, behavior problems, the difficulties of meeting legislation regarding certain breeds, and the likelihood of needing to euthanase a beloved family pet for any of the above. This doesn't mean I want them banned. It means I wouldn't rate them as a good breed to choose as a family pet.

    I would put other breeds in this category (and I mentioned Shar-Pei's and Rottweilers), though with these two health conditions are also a huge factor in me not recommending them.

    There are plenty of other breeds which show aggression regularly and are big and strong enough to cause serious harm. And I would advise against choosing them as a family pet also. This thread was about Pit Bulls and I wanted to address the "its all in the training" myth. (Obviously plenty IS in the training with any dog).

    Of the breeds you mention, I see heaps of Rotteilers and notice they often has marked aggression problems (including biting their owner) as they age: esp from around 8 years. I think in many cases this is pain and dementia related.

    I rarely find Dobermans to be highly aggressive but many are high strung and nervous so show fear aggression.

    German Shepherds very commonly have fear aggression and often have dominance aggression.

    Cattle dogs are frequently quick to bite, as are many small dogs.

    I notice that many people fail to consider these sorts of issues when choosing a dog (they are all cute as puppies), and even more surprising, many people are unconcerned by obvious aggression issues in their dogs, even finding it amusing.

    Keira: I handle dozens of dogs weekly, often in very stressful (for the dog) conditions. That gives me a huge database of dog behavior to work from and compare. I treat heaps of Pit Bulls who seem very nice pets and whose owners love them and have never had any trouble. But this doesn't discount the frequency these dogs present with aggression toward humans and dogs: Far more than most breeds.

    Note also things like aggression are very context dependant, so a dog can react very differently when you introduce a stranger into a yard vs a neighbours child coming into the yard alone for example. (The high pet aggression of some staffies is another example of this: some of the most loving, fun and exuberant staffies turn instantly into uncontrollable cat killing monsters: to the owner's absolute dismay: note these pets don't need to be trained to do this: its in their nature. Many of them could be completely prevented by proper socialisation but its a definite predisposition which stands out in comparison to other breeds.)

    I'm in no way denying there are nice Pit Bulls, but statistically in my experience they are far more likely to problematic than many other breeds (there are other high risk breeds to, but this thread is on Pitt Bulls), and I think we need to take a safety first attitude especially with children.

    There are also nasty dogs of every breed. Sadly people are breeding them right now, because they are blind to the faults of their pet and the breed: We need to be very careful in breeding decisions to prevent these problems as much as possible.
    RE bolded bit above: I have seen MANY dogs attack with no "posturing period" most dogs who posture and bark/growl are just warning and can be dissuaded from attacking by yelling/posturing back, dogs that really are "aggressive" and intent on attacking will charge and attack doesn't matter what breed they are.

    I am just going to say, did you bother to check out any of the websites I posted? Or read the book?

    People like BadRap in America have rescued and rehomed hundreds if not THOUSANDS of pit bulls from all walks of life including fight dogs and these dogs are all fantastic ambassadors for their breed, many are therapy dogs even working with children to help them to learn to read (the dogs are left ALONE with the kids). I highly doubt people like Donna and Tim would be rehoming these dogs if they were going to go off and maul there new families or there new families other pets.

    http://www.badrap.org/rescue/myths.html

    YOU ARE BLINDED by your own fear and by what you hear out of the media, it is all hype. Pit Bull have NEVER fatally attacked anyone in Australia yet people carry on like they have. Australian's barely know what a true pit bull is and so we certainly shouldn't be making judgments.

    People like Choppa have been dealing with the breed for a VERY long time and have come across a lot more pit bulls then you, I am positive she has had more experience with these dogs then you and probably knows a lot more. Choppa is a mother and I highly doubt if these dogs were as unpredictable as you say she wouldn't have them around her children.

    Do some proper research instead of just believing what is put in front of you!

  5. #65

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    Hi everyone,

    this has been (dare I say) a thread one can really sink one's teeth into (no, I am NOT a pit bull).

    I would like to say to Cairns Vet - please don't stop posting, this is a great debate. And sorry you had an experience of an out of control dog - it's a very emotional and distressing experience, only exacerbated if the dog's owner wasn't responding appropriately.

    In general, I would like to point out that if we are having a debate, logic and facts are a strong factor. While I highly value anecdotal evidence, there needs to be a seperation of the two kinds of information when they are used to back up an argument.

    I want to highlight the idea of 'exuberance in staffies'. This is an example of anecdotal evidence provided by one person (Cairns Vet). Obviously if another bunch of folk agreed with this anecodotal or observational data, it would be afforded more weight. However, this exuberance, which is then linked (Cairns Vet) to the quality of 'high arousal', is in my opinion, more of a common canine trait than a breed specific one. Cairns Vet listed a number of breeds who show certain characteristics, I would like to comment that in any one of those listed breeds, exuberance and/or high arousal can be present. In any litter of pups, there will be a variation in personality - this is the 'nature' aspect of the dog. Choosing the right personality of dog at this point, or at a later time if adopting an older dog, is a big factor in the outcome of the human-dog match. This is where education/dog knowledge comes in. Dog behaviours IS complex, as Cairns Vet acknowledges. So, we cannot say that any one breed alone must be tagged for a trait such as exuberance, or quick/high arousal, or that it automatically leads to aggression towards humans, dogs or for example, cats. Also, pointing, retrieving, btw, can lead to many innapropriate behaviours that are linked in with the general canine prey drive. Yet, for all that pointers and retrievers are bred for this exclusive purpose, statistically, many pups are rejected as really good pointers or retrievers BY NATURE. BUT - nearly any dog can be TRAINED to retrieve or point.

    The example Cairns Vet gives of a family pet (Staffy) killing a pet cat is misleading for many reasons. 1. ALL dogs have prey drive. This varies from individual dog to individual dog. I could provide about two dozen photos right now of my Amstaff pup snoozing with our two adult cats and two latest rescue kittens but this is only ONE example of a dog who happens to be an Amstaff, who happens to have been raised in a home where cats are not allowed to be chased. As a statistic, it has no more weight than the one staffy you know of that killed a pet cat. The reason owners are shocked when this happens is that they often do not see their lovable canine as capable of acting on it's prey drive. I could go on at how frustrated and lacking in proper training and exercise the average family dog is, but never mind.......

    The two real dogs mentioned differ in their upbringing. It is NOT a 'nature' example, but a 'nurture' example. Even if we remain on anecdotal ground, we will see that many breeds and part breeds will chase cats - some will go all the way to the conclusion of their prey drive and kill the cat. Others won't. It is a red herring to bring this kind of example into your case against pit bulls or bully breeds. I am ashamed to say that my five kilo toy poodle ( not getting out much when the kids were young) answered her prey drive by becoming the most proficient and deadly killer of pigeons. She spent hours stalking and pointing them, before herding them under a tree with large overhanging branches to stop them flying up quickly. She would then leap vertically three times as high as her own height to grab a pigeon. This behaviour has almost extinguished now, as she gets much more exercise, the kids got old enough to train her (lol) and she has other dog pals to occupy her now. Because she is a toy poodle, she doesn't seem capable of such brutality at first glance. Yet she is also the dominant female over large dogs. Oh, and she can take down mice AND rats with one snap of their necks. On the other hand, my rigdeback mastiff x is terrified of large, buzzing flies. (This was a long example of statistically insignifcant anecdotal evidence, btw).

    Okay, back to the debate. The idea that dogs can 'turn suddenly' is also rooted in anecdotal evidence, even if you have had lots of exposure to various breeds over time. Firstly, you are one individual with your own experience, coloured by your own perceptions. It can be a case of 'red cars'. (The idea that once you see a red car and notice it, you see them everywhere). Secondly, you point out that dogs in your care are often stressed and/or in pain, as this is the nature of your job. Also, individual dogs are incredibly perceptive of how humans feel about them - I would suggest they are better at reading us than the other way around. If a dog 'knows' you don't trust it or expect it to 'turn', then it may become more anxious in response. All this presents another 'research anomaly'. Dogs have a complex and varied tool box of body language( I don't mean to diminish your obvious capabilties to interact with dogs in your work life, btw). What seems like a sudden response IS accompanied by warning cues, no matter how subtle. We are quicker and better at picking up these kind of cues from other humans than dogs. Dogs are good at picking up these cues from each other. This can be observed when dogs interact in a social group. I have to agree with others that the concept of 'turning suddenly' is a questionable one. To prove my point using an example 'against' myself, there is a dog at our local dog park who has bitten one of my dogs three times now and while the first time, it appeared that it was a case of 'turning suddenly', in subsequent situations where I was paying more attention to the dog from the get-go, I saw lots of warnings that the owner was not stepping in to address - erect tail, stiff walk, hard glare. There were no hackles up (this happened AFTER the bite), no growls or charging. The dog went from relaxed entry to the park to biting my dog in what seemed like an instant, but in fact, followed subtle warnings. The sad thing is, that I am having to deal with an owner's baggage - the dog could be have his behaviour interrrupted and new patterns formed a lot quicker than his human. Do I want to get all emotional about this dog? Hell yes! It is targeting my youngest dog - incidentally, the same Amstaff pup who cuddles with kittens. I could say what breed the dog is, but it is irrelevant. Yes, it is in the dog's 'nature' to want to dominate this younger, submissive pup. If I hadn't intervened each time, she would have been even more injured (she has scarring on her face and each bite has specifically been on the head, narrowly missing the eyes and has drawn blood). But it is a BEHAVIOUR pattern that we are seeing, NOT a statistically significant breed trait that could be reliably reproduced. I should add that my pup gives her own cues about what she thinks of this dog - she gets down very low, wags her tail fast, avoids eye contact, etc. In her case, she is also learning - some dogs are going to be 'mean' to you, even if you are really friendly, so you should stay away from them!

    Cairns Vet - I find it interesting that you would choose to recommend AGAINST a specific breed as such, rather than choose to educate. Pit bulls may be the dog of the moment for those with ego problems or criminal intent, but this will change and it will become another dog that becomes ingrained in the public mind as threatening and dangerous. Have a look at the breeds that have been in this unfortunate position over the years. This is a HUMAN condition, not a canine one. Imagine how much the image of a 'scary pit bull' would be undermined if every second family was well educated and supported in their ownership of a bully breed dog? This sort of popularity mechanism has elevated the labrador to exalted status as a family dog, despite the fact that the breed and individual labradors can have negative qualities and is well represented in bite statistics as well as showing temperament testing scores comparable ( at the high end of positive) with pit bulls, Amstaffs and Staffies.

    Brings us back to the quality of 'exuberance', yes? The media and the public (and experts such as yourself, Cairns Vet) can have a huge effect on how these qualties are interpreted. The labrador in the true story 'Marley and Me' became beloved in the psyche of thousands of dog lovers. Marley was a perfect example of a badly behaved dog. Yet he was seen as a lovable rascal. His owners loved him and were committed to him as their pet. It's all in the way people view something. People want to believe in good and bad, cut and dried. People want to believe that it is normal for a pet dog to take any kind of abuse and stress and tolerate it with a wag of it's tail and a doggy grin. Anything else could be seen as a dog 'turning' suddenly. Many adults have the myth of their ideal family dog in mind when in fact, as a child, they would have little idea of whether their family dog really DID feel happy about having it's tail pulled, eyes poked, etc. Most young children are bad at interpreting dog warning cues. This is apparent in the number of young children bitten by dogs, but it also shows us that the majority of family dogs show great restraint with young children (they are remarkably patient with their pups and younger dogs in a social group as well) - otherwise family dogs in general would not continue to be a common thing.

    As for the tired old argument of bully breeds 'hanging on' - ever seen a pet dog who won't let go of it's bone/ball/chew toy, etc? Examples given out of dog fighting are not confined to one breed - all dogs can inflict horrific damage on each other (just head down to any local dog park on a weekend) or sadly, on humans - and pet cats

    For every dog that will fight to the death, even out of those supposedly bred to do so, only a small number will show sufficent drive to do so. While it is traumatic and horrific to witness such drive, it is a possible behaviour in dogs and in the context of fighting or hunting dogs, the dog is producing 'appropriate' behaviour in it's mind and also within the context that the human owner has placed it. I don't think anyone here would support the moral or ethical framework that produces this behaviour in dogs for human gain or entertainment, anymore than they would approve of cockfighting rings.

    The fact that most dogs will not fight to the death even when bred and trained to do so, is backed up by the number of dogs discarded (usually inhumanely) in criminal dog fighting because they won't fight to the death. The reason that is given for the dogs that do fight to the death by behaviourists that are involved in their rescue and rehabilitation (BadRap, DogTown, etc.) is that the dogs are so desperate to please their human owners. There is a greater environmental pressure on these dogs to behave in this manner than is ever seen in normal pet situations as well. This is evident in the way that criminal dog fighters rear their dogs and continue to house them. They are in effect 'reverse socialised'. They are not encouraged to engage in new and varied situations with other animals and humans. They are punished for friendly behaviour to other dogs and strangers. They are rewarded only for aggression. They are kept seperate to other dogs. This is a training process, not something that the dogs are born to do. Please read the recommended books to balance out your own experiences guys. And please read and compare/contrast earlier forms of dog fighting, which, while horrible in the sense of dogs hurting each other, did NOT foster dogs who transferred their dog aggression into human aggression.

    Just a stray thought on the comment that GSD's are commonly seen to suffer from fear aggression - the breed is still one of the most used for police and protection work. Any dog trainer who actually knows enough to ethically train dogs for police or protection work will tell you that it takes a special dog to do this job. A dog that is stable, intelligent, consistent and trainable. A dog that is well socialised. This is just another statisically significant 'proof' that it IS all in the training. Perhaps the canine world does have a tiny proportion of it's sociopaths, just like humans. The debate on nature vs. nurture for human sociopaths will rage on indefinately.

    What dogs ARE bred to do over 'hundreds of generations', is to love and interact with their humans. And this is what they do. And I think they do a brilliant job. For every dog that may for whatever reason, let the doggie side down, there are a dozen humans who have already neglected their end of the deal.

    So, please consider reading some of the material for the affirmative if you are still not a fan of bully breeds and let us know what you come up with.

    Cathy.

  6. #66
    Join Date
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    Cathy; WOW! Terrific post. Wish I could press 'Thank' more than once.

  7. #67

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    The connundrum - does breed type mean nothing or everything? Do we breed selectively for type, and in which case this means that temperament traits are within a breed, or is it all in upbringing and training.

    A Pug will always have very low prey drive and will be mostly non-aggressive. These characteristics are there regardless of training or socialisation. They are bred for this temperament.

    There are many breeds that are not so predicatable or social. Their upbringing, socialisation and training may add or subtract to the temperament to a degree, but the temperament is in the breed largely.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Edited to add: Apologies if this is a repeat of something else anyone has said, I haven't had time to read the thread in great detail.
    Last edited by Moi; 03-15-2011 at 12:29 PM.

  8. #68

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    Thank you Cathy. That was a very thorough and informative read. It is always great to have someone who is so vocal and can vocalize properly the necessary information (as I really do suck at it LOL).

    As Cathy said I hope Cairns Vet continues to read this thread and hopefully some good will come from it.

  9. #69

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    Hey guys, thanks for the positive comments.

    Moi - I guess the temperament vs. training debate is a complex one. I still maintain that in any litter of any breed, there is enough personality variation observable in the early interactions of the pups to support an argument in favour of the continuation of that variance into the pup's later life.

    You mention low prey drive and low aggression, if I understand you correctly. I don't believe that the two are necessarily linked in the way you imply. Any breed or breed mix can have aggression issues and the reasons are many and often unique to the dog in terms of triggers and patterns. I think prey drive can influence other behaviours in dogs, which in turn could cause a dog to try aggression as a strategy. If the strategy seems to work in the mind of the dog, for example, aggression, then that behaviour can be the eventual outcome.

    I just can't agree on the statement that temperament is 'bred for' in some breeds, but not in others. If temperament can be bred for and this is something you accept as a fact and predictable outcome for one breed, it is selective breeding through a genetic management process and therefore any member of the canine species can be manipulated in the same way. ( and I assume temperament in this context to mean the ability to socialise well with humans and other dogs and be able to react in a stable manner to a range of situations)

    If one selects the most sociable, calm and healthy dogs of any breed, then the breeding for temperament theory must hold. I guess what I am trying to say, is, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you must argue in favour of pugs being bred for temperament, then the same logic must hold for pit bulls. If one comes across a bad-tempered pug, one does not say all pugs are cranky. One COULD say that the breeder of that pug was incompetent, or that the breeder has failed to 'breed for temperament'. No responsible breeder is going to select 'against temperament', regardless of the breed's function or prey drive. It is those who don't breed responsibly that produce dogs of all breeds with a less than suitable temperament.

    Having said all that, anyone who has had any contact with rescue dogs or dogs who require training to help them through behavioural issues can attest to the fact that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. In other words, even a dog that may have inherited poor temperament can change, because, similiar to humans, although personality can be said to be a relatively fixed value for the human's life, the human or dog's behaviour is extremely flexible when given the appropriate stimulus to change. I also tend to think that our canine buddies are a lot better at letting go of baggage than we are

    Anyway, regardless of the point in question, where are the breed standards of ANY breed that require a dog to be "less predictable" or "less social" ? So even if the temperament is "largely in the breed", the case of misbehaving dogs is not so easily solved in your statement.

    I guess we all have our breed favourites even a fondness for certain breed mixes. This is not the problem if ethical breeding occurs. It is when BSL is used to demonise a specific breed of dog and logic comes second to emotion or misinformation. I recently left my own dog park fuming and in tears because my youngest dog was bitten for the third time in a couple of months by the same dog. The least helpful thing I can do is to decide that every dog of that breed is a problem, whip up as many people I know to agree with me and then find a way to have the media support this.

    What if the attack was more serious or my child was bitten? Hospitalised? I would still feel the same. You know who I blame? The human on the other end of the dog. I reckon that it would be quicker to train that dog to get along with mine than to try resolving the issue with it's human.

    Another problem with BSL, as you can read in some of the other threads, is when a dog gets wrongly identfied as a 'dangerous breed' and officials have the power to seize a dog, or worse. There are many, many cases of this in the States and Canada, where animal control have the power to seize a dog on sight. If the dog is judged to be in a dangerous breed or breed type category, the owner may never get their dog back. And this is before ANY sort of dangerous behaviour is proven. This is just madness and fails to educate the average dog owner, let alone stop the abuse or unethical breeding behind many aggressive dogs.

    Oops, better stop now and get to bed, lol.

    Cathy.

  10. #70
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Cairns, Queensland, Australia
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    Default Pet dogs

    Its interesting that people perceive I am singling out Pit Bulls in not recommending them as pets. There are a lot of breeds I wouldn't suggest as pets (plenty of people keep getting them though!) due to health or behavioral issues.
    The two issues are comparable in the sense that breed predispositions does not equaly certainty of problems.
    For example not every Cocker Spaniel has bad skin, ears, and eyes, but to buy one without knowing the high frequency of these problems in this breed would unwise.
    Similarly for breeds with high exercise needs: not a good choice if you live in a unit and don't want to walk your dog.
    You can have health or behavioral problems with any breed of dog, and it may not be obvious as a puppy, but you should choose a breed informed by knowledge of the breed's characteristics, needs and your own situation.
    If the safety of your family is paramount (most owners) there are some breeds pose greater risk than others. Why would you choose a breed which has been selected to want to fight and kill over one that wasn't?
    Of course socialisation makes a huge difference.
    Further to the agression issue, Pitties also seem unusually prone to allergies and other skin problems (as are staffies) so thats another downside.

    Someone mentioned cattle dogs being the leading biting breed in Australia: this is likely true and again appears to be a genuine breed predisposition. For example I've seen 4 cattle dogs in the last few days and 3 of them we needed to muzzle. (In general we'd only muzzle a few percent of dogs we see). They are frequently cranky and quick to bite, especially if undersocialised.

    Based on this, I don't rush to recommend cattle dogs as a family pet either, but if you want to round up cattle....

    Bear in mind though there are 10s times as many cattle dogs out there as Pit Bulls. When you read those "most dangerous breed" surveys they don't adjust for population numbers, so they are often "most popular breed surveys. As a result you will see German Shepherds, labradors and maltese terriers topping them regularly.

    I may seem to be picking on Pit Bulls because.... this thread is about Pit Bulls. I don't think its responsible to deny their breed characteristics and promote them as the breed every house should have.

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