The friendly Rottweiler
Saturday July 5 2008 19:41 IST
The puppies seemed to fit the description of the breed perfectly. Six cute and furry balls of energy pranced around near my feet, licking, chewing and biting everything that they could reach. Golden Retrievers are legendary for their friendliness and the Internet describes the breed as confident, lovable and dangerously sociable — they are supposedly so eager to please that they would offer to hold a thief’s torchlight.
However, Dr S M Aravind Kumar, senior veterinarian at The Ark, Chennai, had a surprise in store. “We are finding that dogs such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, which are traditionally considered affectionate and sociable, are turning more and more aggressive, while breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermans are turning more amiable,” he says.
M P Butt, the founder of Commando Kennels, Hyderabad, said that he had also noticed such a trend. “Some of the more aggressive breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermans were bred in Germany as working dogs, with the instinct of protecting the owners and their property. These qualities were honed by the owners during training,” says Butt.
“However, when these breeds came to India, they weren’t always used as working dogs and the owners failed to cultivate those instincts. The dogs were over- socialised and thus became more friendly than expected. Breeders also began breeding the dogs indiscriminately and those instincts have been diluted in the breed,” he explains.
Butt says he feels dog owners in India do not love their pets as much as their counterparts abroad. “People don’t have the time for dogs such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, which are extremely sociable animals. This leads to depression, which manifests itself through barking. The dogs begin to bite,” he said, adding that it doesn’t help that dog shows these days focus more on the looks of the animal as opposed to its temperament.
Kumar does not have an explanation for the trend. “It’s something that I have noticed. I know at least three Labradors that I’ve been seeing from the time they were puppies, which are extremely aggressive and on occasion would have mauled the family members if they hadn’t been careful. There have been many incidents of domestic help or strangers being attacked. On the other hand, I have seen Rottweilers bursting with friendliness as they walk into the clinic,” he says.
Philip Vijay, the owner of ApolloPetz in Chennai, does not agree that there could be anything wrong with the dogs. “It all depends on the way the dogs are brought up. People tend to pamper puppies because they are cute and end up indulging behaviour that they would not find acceptable in a grown dog. However, dogs mature physically at 14 months and mentally at only 30 months. So, you are mostly left with a large puppy. Then people find the dogs’ behaviour difficult to cope with,” says Vijay.
“In an extremely sociable dog such as a Labrador, not being able to meet people and socialise could lead to a lot of frustration. Thus, when let loose, the dog would be overly enthusiastic, barking and mouthing. Owners often misinterpret this as aggressiveness and tie the dog up more. The cycle would continue till the dog ends up being tied up for life,” he complains.
The trend has been noticed on the show circuit as well. C V Sudarsan of the Madras Canine Club, who is an international dog-show judge in 26 countries, says he has noticed Labradors and Golden Retrievers showing signs of aggression at shows. “Rottweilers and Dobermans are allowed to growl, but not Labradors or Golden Retrievers. However, we have noticed that some of them tend to snarl or growl when we try petting them and they get disqualified. I would put this down to bad breeding and upbringing,” he says.
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Bless the Bullys