DEBATE: Are pit bulls more prone to DA?

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » May 3rd, 2011, 8:38 am

Interesting article on KC Dog Blog: http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/ ... -dogs.html

It talks about the Russian fox study in which they found it only takes 4 generations to get completely domesticated (not just tame, but actually domesticated) foxes. How does this apply to dogs? Quotes from the blog:

Meanwhile, it is also interesting to think about American Pit Bull Terriers in this construct. While many of the haters out there will try to point at a history of bull baiting, dog fighting etc, it is worth noting that very few of these dogs have been bred for either of these purposes for decades upon decades (and many for literally hundreds of years). And in a very similar way to how behaviors change for other types of dogs (and foxes) because of selected breeding, an individual dog's behavior is much more influenced by its parent's temperaments/appearances than it is its ancestors from hundreds of years ago.


Which continues to show why those who are more concerned with the traditional function of certain types of dogs than they are their actual, current behavior, are doing nothing more than grasping at straws for something to try to base their (incorrect) opinion on.


So, if it only takes 4 generations to completely domesticate a wild species, if our dogs haven't been bred specifically for fighting in more than four generations, are they still more likely to be more dog reactive/selective/aggressive than other dogs? Or are they just terriers with a normal amount of reactivity/aggression towards other animals? Do we overestimate their potential danger to other dogs and make mountains out of molehills? DISCUSS!
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Postby plebayo » May 3rd, 2011, 9:31 am

I don't think domestication has anything to do with dog aggression. Some humans are bitchier than others, some people get along better than others :|

As far as dog aggression goes I have one word. TERRIER.

Also I really feel other dog breeds aggression is down played next to the Pit Bull. Nordic breeds are notoriously dog aggressive. Yeah - sled dogs seem to get along okay but I think it's because they are too busy/tired to kill each other. But I hear all the time if you want to have Huskies or Malamutes you need to have opposite sex pairs because same sex has a tendency to be dog aggressive.

Look at the flock guardian breeds, Great Pyrenees, Komondor, Ovcharka etc- all of these breeds come with warnings that they are fine as long as they know "who belongs in the flock" but again I've read it's really hard to introduce more dogs into the household. Heck - how many German Shepherds are dog aggressive?

The only reason we don't hear about other breeds killing other dogs is that it doesn't make good news and Pit Bulls are really popular right now.

I also do think a lot of bad behavior has to do with excess energy. Pit Bulls and terriers in general have a TON of energy and I've only met a few owners[I mean in person, with the dogs I have met.] who have been able to actually tap that energy and tucker their dogs out. I'm not saying a tired dog is too tired to be DA, but I think a tired dog would be less reactive if they were truly busy/tired all the time.
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Postby TheRedQueen » May 3rd, 2011, 9:56 am

plebayo wrote:I don't think domestication has anything to do with dog aggression. Some humans are bitchier than others, some people get along better than others :|

As far as dog aggression goes I have one word. TERRIER.


But...if the question is why is the DA still there, if it's not actively being bred for? So why do terriers still have aggression issues in general, if it's not being bred for? Or is it? I'm just asking here...I don't know. For example: in Aussies, I'm seeing a complete change in temperament from what the breed *should* be. The dogs should be reserved with strangers...they're a suspicious breed...supposed to guard your ranch/farm/flock. Now I meet tons of enthusiastic, friendly, in-your-face, everyone-is-my-friend Aussies...and it's just not right. But it makes for an easier dog to live with.

Also I really feel other dog breeds aggression is down played next to the Pit Bull. Nordic breeds are notoriously dog aggressive. Yeah - sled dogs seem to get along okay but I think it's because they are too busy/tired to kill each other. But I hear all the time if you want to have Huskies or Malamutes you need to have opposite sex pairs because same sex has a tendency to be dog aggressive.


I've never heard of northern breeds having more DA...and it's not been my experience...I've always found them to be fairly easy going in groups of dogs. :|

Look at the flock guardian breeds, Great Pyrenees, Komondor, Ovcharka etc- all of these breeds come with warnings that they are fine as long as they know "who belongs in the flock" but again I've read it's really hard to introduce more dogs into the household.


But most of these breeds (well, with the exception of the GP, I'd say)...are actually used (or could be used) for what they're supposed to be used for...flock guarding. This gets away from the idea of the pit bull being DA when not being bred for the original purpose. I'm not saying everyone with a guardian breed is using them for such things...but I think many of the breeders are breeding with that in mind...that someone *might* use them for such purposes. Unlike apbt breeders...who would be appalled to hear that someone might be using them for the intended purpose.

Heck - how many German Shepherds are dog aggressive?


Well, they're not in the same category of livestock guardians...but I'd say that many herding breeds aren't keen on other dogs. Unlike the northern breeds brought up before, herders aren't bred to work with others...except for maybe one or two others on a farm/ranch. But they work independently...and they're usually suspicious of strangers...dog or human...like I mentioned before with Aussies. So I'm never surprised to see a DA GSD or other herder. My herders aren't super fond of other dogs, and prefer other herding dogs...because they leave each other alone. ;)

The only reason we don't hear about other breeds killing other dogs is that it doesn't make good news and Pit Bulls are really popular right now.


Yeah, but most dogs...won't fight to the death. Seriously. I'm not sure most pit bulls would either, in the grand scheme of things...but most dogs do a lot of posturing, and the fights are never truly serious. Because when you're fighting over status, or resources...you don't want to end up dead. That doesn't work out well for ya...so most dogs don't want to take it that far.

I also do think a lot of bad behavior has to do with excess energy. Pit Bulls and terriers in general have a TON of energy and I've only met a few owners[I mean in person, with the dogs I have met.] who have been able to actually tap that energy and tucker their dogs out. I'm not saying a tired dog is too tired to be DA, but I think a tired dog would be less reactive if they were truly busy/tired all the time.


This...I agree!
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Postby Malli » May 3rd, 2011, 1:25 pm

most of my boss' Karelian Bear dogs are DA :|

They're bad because they not only don't like other dogs, they antagonize. IMO very antagonistic breed, from my experience at her kennel.

one of her puppies that lives with a friend just got in a serious dog fight with a dog she'd lived with for 6 yrs and no problems, which is very typical of breeds we think of as DA, I think...
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Postby mnp13 » May 3rd, 2011, 4:41 pm

As I said on that oh-so-lovely list - responsible breeders have so much to deal with when finding a mate for their dog, that dog aggression isn't usually on the radar. It may not be being bred for but that's not the same as being bred against.
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Postby DemoDick » May 3rd, 2011, 4:43 pm

Uh huh.

It is also worth noting that while genetics plays a role, nurture also is very important -- and many dogs that are even bred for the purpose of fighting can be rehabilitated with good training.
(italics added)

This betrays a misunderstanding of the very nature of gameness. The author has zero credibility to talk about the APBT.

Which continues to show why those who are more concerned with the traditional function of certain types of dogs than they are their actual, current behavior, are doing nothing more than grasping at straws for something to try to base their (incorrect) opinion on.


In addition to apparently having zero understanding of gameness, the author also seems to have no understanding of the scientific method. You cannot generalize like that. When an actual study is conducted with real experimental and control groups among APBT's in an attempt to breed out dog aggression in a scientifically rigorous manner, then we can talk about parallels. Until then this is blog-talk and deserves no more attention than the guy on the corner with a sandwich board.

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » May 3rd, 2011, 5:34 pm

Until then this is blog-talk and deserves no more attention than the guy on the corner with a sandwich board.


Ahhh, but it's generating a discussion, and discussion is a good thing, yes?
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Postby TheRedQueen » May 3rd, 2011, 7:17 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
Until then this is blog-talk and deserves no more attention than the guy on the corner with a sandwich board.


Ahhh, but it's generating a discussion, and discussion is a good thing, yes?


Yes. :)
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Postby call2arms » May 3rd, 2011, 7:51 pm

How is DA defined exactly? Where is the level of reactivity where a dog is considered DA?

Because in reality, some dogs (of any breed) are considered DA by their owners, when really they just have zero social skills. Is it fear based (and in that case, is it still DA?) or plain and simple "I wanna kill you"?

I think lots of dogs are lumped into the DA category, when really they have issues, that end up as aggression towards other dogs, but where the source isn't necessarily "wanting to kill the other dog".

It's very hard for me to say if pit bulls are truly more DA if DA isn't well defined, and it isn't in my mind, so I don't know.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » May 3rd, 2011, 8:43 pm

I really like BadRap's description of dog tolerance levels: http://www.badrap.org/rescue/dogdog.html
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Postby plebayo » May 3rd, 2011, 9:07 pm

On my phone and stuck in class.

I think terriers are more DA because most are high energy and high prey drive. Regardless of breed I think the higher the drive to kill things more likely will the drive be to be aggressive. Also terriers are bred to be confident and independent. That is a small part of why i think they tend to be DA.

I also don't really know why DA is such an issue. Do our dogs have to be friends? As long as the owners can control them, for me HA concerns me more than
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » May 3rd, 2011, 9:15 pm

Many in the general public are very frightened of DA dogs. There are enough stories of pit bulls getting loose and attacking dogs that contribute to BSL.

So are pit bulls on par with other terriers (like JRT's) or are they more DA than other terriers?
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Postby furever_pit » May 3rd, 2011, 10:33 pm

mnp13 wrote:As I said on that oh-so-lovely list - responsible breeders have so much to deal with when finding a mate for their dog, that dog aggression isn't usually on the radar. It may not be being bred for but that's not the same as being bred against.


My thought exactly.
It is one thing for someone to decide that they are not going to actively pursue the game trait, it is another thing entirely to decide not to breed DA/DR dogs all together. At that point the importance of the absence of those qualities becomes more important than other qualities that go into a breeding - like health or working ability.

pitbullmamaliz wrote: in the general public are very frightened of DA dogs. There are enough stories of pit bulls getting loose and attacking dogs that contribute to BSL.


I agree with this. But I think it comes down to ignorance and misunderstanding; many people think that aggression is aggression, period. The idea that there are types of aggression with different focal points is totally beyond their scope of knowledge. So the DA dog that grabs the neighbor's Fluffy becomes not just a dog-killer but a child-killer all in one action, regardless of whether or not the dog has actually ever displayed any aggression toward a person.
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Postby airwalk » May 3rd, 2011, 10:42 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Many in the general public are very frightened of DA dogs. There are enough stories of pit bulls getting loose and attacking dogs that contribute to BSL.

So are pit bulls on par with other terriers (like JRT's) or are they more DA than other terriers?


I can only respond from my experiences, but we see hundreds of terriers each year and we see as many DA Jacks and wirehairs as we do Pit Bull mixes. I agree that terriers, as a family group, tend to be higher energy, higher prey drive than many other breed groups...so when the Pit Bull grabs fluffy is it DA or just out of control prey drive?
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Postby furever_pit » May 3rd, 2011, 10:43 pm

To answer the original question -- In my experience, the APBT is more prone to dog aggression. That doesn't mean that other breeds cannot or are not also predisposed to that trait. I find it interesting that the terrier in the APBT is so often "blamed" for the dog aggression present in the breed when it is a trait that is also common in bulldogs.
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Postby TheRedQueen » May 3rd, 2011, 10:47 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:So are pit bulls on par with other terriers (like JRT's) or are they more DA than other terriers?


Regardless of whether they're more DA than other terriers, they definitely have a different look to them. There is a reason that they've grabbed the attention of people that get breed hype started. There's a reason that big strong dogs are targeted...the same reason that they've been bred to have that big strong look. Dobermans, GSDs, rottweilers, pit bulls, etc...they all are bred or trimmed to look a certain way for a reason...and they've had issues with they way they look, as well as the way they behave.

So you can swear up and down that American cocker spaniels are more un-trustworthy around other pets or humans...but with those big sad eyes, long fluffy ears...who's going to believe that?

You can tell people not to pet your scruffy little "Eddie" terrier...but people won't believe that...pit bulls have a bad rap, not Jack Russell terriers...
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Postby BigDogBuford » May 3rd, 2011, 11:20 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:So you can swear up and down that American cocker spaniels are more un-trustworthy around other pets or humans...but with those big sad eyes, long fluffy ears...who's going to believe that?


Me. After Princess the Cocker Spaniel tried to take my nose off. Just the day before we had a little Pit Bull girl come in who had been accidentally impaled with a piece of rebar. The little PB came in wiggling and happy with a chunk of rebar sticking through her. It was an interesting contrast for sure. The Cocker was in for a nail trim.

But yeah, most people this Cockers are more cute.
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Postby BigDogBuford » May 3rd, 2011, 11:28 pm

And that should be *think* not this.
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Postby TheRedQueen » May 3rd, 2011, 11:28 pm

BigDogBuford wrote:
TheRedQueen wrote:So you can swear up and down that American cocker spaniels are more un-trustworthy around other pets or humans...but with those big sad eyes, long fluffy ears...who's going to believe that?


Me. After Princess the Cocker Spaniel tried to take my nose off. Just the day before we had a little Pit Bull girl come in who had been accidentally impaled with a piece of rebar. The little PB came in wiggling and happy with a chunk of rebar sticking through her. It was an interesting contrast for sure. The Cocker was in for a nail trim.

But yeah, most people this Cockers are more cute.


Right...those of us that know dogs get this. I've been bitten by two cockers now in my life-time. But honestly...there's a reason people that love pit bulls love pit bulls...I like the look of a well-muscled dogs, I like an athletic dog, I like a powerful looking dog...so I like pit bulls. Though a well-groomed, well-bred American cocker is a cute creature. ;)
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Postby BigDogBuford » May 3rd, 2011, 11:49 pm

I think I actually fell for the personality of the PB's first. I grew up with GSD's and loved them. I liked the bigger, furry dogs. I thought PB's were kind of weird looking at first but couldn't help but love their personality. Now I definitely prefer that aesthetic of a beefy dog with a silly big head.
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