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« Auburn Football Player bitten at game on Saturday | Main | Fear Mongering at its finest »

November 27, 2007


Mac`s Gang

[quote]I've learned the hard way that real experts don't spend a lot of time trying to educate people online, and anyone who tries to do so will be immediately lumped-in with all the 'armchair experts' who've done nothing but read a few web sites and the like.[/quote]

I hope the real experts will press on.
Some of us are able to separate the real from the "armchair experts" and we really do appreciate all your hard work.
I`m presently in the process of reading the articles that you posted.

Don`t give up on all of us.
Some of us really do have a thirst for knowledge and not headlines.


I just finished reading every link (and then some). It seems you also did a lot of research, instead of actual testing.

How much scientific weight do you give the Standing Committee on Genetics? You seem to quote them in every article. Does this also mean that I can quote every Committee which says Pit Bulls are dangerous?

"There is no scientific proof that genetics cause a breed of dog to be aggressive, vicious or dangerous." - testimony from Standing Committee on amendments to the Dog Owners Liability Act. 2005

"We have yet to confirm a single case of a responsibly-owned dog attacking someone unprovoked." I assume this statement was wrote in 2005. Now that the woman was killed in Jacksonville by her two pit bulls- she raised since pups, in a loving home, does your statement need modifying?

Was this conversation really overheard? How many dog parks did you have to visit to get this quote? It’s amazing you got the “Woman 1 rolling her eyes” kind of detail. Almost sounds like a Hillary Clinton Planted question to me.

Man: "My dog (a GSD) was attacked by a Jack Russell Terrier the other day."
Woman 1: "Oh, I know. This one (pointing to the older of two Vizslas), has been attacked twice by small dogs. As a matter of fact, the only dogs I've had problems with are those small dogs."

Woman 2: "Gee...not 'pit bulls'?" (asked sarcastically)

(woman 1 rolls her eyes)

Woman 1: "I know. All this talk about 'pit bulls' in the news and I've never had a problem with a single one. There are a few I run into at this park and they're great!"

Man: "Me neither. I've never had a problem with a 'pit bull' being aggressive towards my dog. The ones I've met at dog parks and in my neighborhood have all been great! It's those small dogs that are likely to attack."

Woman 2: "Same here. I LOVE to see 'pit bulls' at dog parks because they always play so well with my dog! I've never had a problem

Is the above dialog, something you also got from Nitschke’s book?

As I dug though all your articles and you make my point on this issue?

You many not be familiar with the joke about “hypothetically” and “reality”.

A young boy goes to his dad and asked what the difference was between “hypothetically” and “reality”. The dad thought about it and said, go ask your mom if she would have sex with the mail man for a million dollars. The boy did and she said yes. The dad then said go ask your sister if she would have sex with her teacher for a million dollars. He did and the sister said yes. The boy said, I don’t get it. The dad said “hypothetically” we are multi-millionaires but in “reality” we are living with a couple of whores.

If what you say is “true” regarding dog aggression. And if what you say is also true that there is a large population who buy pit bulls: to be aggressive, to be used for cheap guard dogs, to be used to fight, to be used to guard drug houses, and by people who are not willing to invest hours and hours of training and house them in an appropriate environment chained up with no proper socialization.

Isn’t also true that all these factors will lead to self fulfilling prophecy, that the Pit Bull breed is a vicious dog.

The only thing local governments have to go on sometimes is what’s in front of them. And if they have empirical data which states that the local cops had to shoot 30 pit bulls in the last two years in the line of duty and that “little Sally Mae” had her face and neck chewed up. (BTW what is it with Pit Bulls attacking the neck, is this something that they learned or is it instinct. All the dog attacks that I have witnessed have been leg, ass or hand)

So…….“Hypothetically” pit bulls are no different from any other dog and but in “Reality” they way they are raised makes them a vicious dog and because of this unfortunate circumstance the Breed will have special regulation.


Quote from Doug:

"So…….“Hypothetically” pit bulls are no different from any other dog and but in “Reality” they way they are raised makes them a vicious dog and because of this unfortunate circumstance the Breed will have special regulation."

No Doug. You are wrong.

All you're describing is the fact that "pit bulls" can be MADE to be vicious. It does NOT mean they are inherently vicious.

So, if we start from that point, what's going to happen if we "successfully" eliminate "pit bulls"?

The people who treat their dogs poorly will move to a different breed.

Why is that so hard to understand?

I've already told you plainly everything you need to prove to make your case. Is there some reason you just ignored that post?


No one is saying to eliminate pit bulls (meaning me).

And again the key to my BSL will force for better ownership. The next breed which the ill informed gravitate to will be next.

Which post was it, I am at a seminar all can only take so many hours of tensil strenght and elongation.


Doug, you couldn't have possibly read what I've written, if those are your conclusions.

I don't know, or care about, the case with the woman (who raised her 'pit bulls' from puppies thus, you conclude, they couldn't possibly be aggressive). If you contact her, you'll invariably find that either she, her friends or relatives, or neighbours will admit the dog(s) would growl or raise lips when someone tried to take away a toy, or would bark menacingly even when it's an innocent child at the door, or would run along the fence line growling, barking menacingly, or lunging at other dogs walking by. That is called "aggressive behaviour," yet it is dismissed or minimized once the dog successfully bites for the first time.

"A successful, unprovoked bite is never the first sign of aggression in dogs. It's the last."

The vast majority of dog bite victims are bitten, attacked, or killed by their own dogs, or dogs they know well.

Aggressive dogs have learned those behaviours in environments that either fail to discourage the early signs of discomfort or manipulation, or actively reward them.

And most of the dogs biting, attacking, and killing people are not 'pit bulls', thus refuting baseless theories 'pit bulls' are unique, in comparison to other kinds of dogs.

I can't help that people think Google searches are "scientific research" or that they don't even know how to locate objective dog bite data in their areas. If you believe the media, then based on their lack of reporting the overwhelming majority of dog biting cases, it may seem that 'pit bulls' bite more often. If the media reports only drunk driving accidents involving Fords, will the public then call for a ban on Fords, as some ridiculous theory in will reduce the number of drunk driving accidents? Probably...if the public's ignorance of media bias in dog bite cases is any indication.




"And again the key to my BSL will force for better ownership. The next breed which the ill informed gravitate to will be next."

So, it's ok to punish the dog breed for something the owners are doing wrong? And it's also ok to allow dangerous dogs of a different breed to get away with lesser fines?

You also want to write laws that will guarantee that we'll have to write more laws in another 10 years once dog fighters have decided on a new breed.

Your BSL is a waste of time and money, Doug, not a solution to a nearly non-existent problem.

My earlier post is on the first page of comments, starting with the words "It's funny that you berate"


Brent has already pointed out that most of the things you suggest in your proposed legislation (dogs running at large, vaccinations, lack of licensing) are already illegal in most places. No one disagreed with you about making fines higher for breaking these laws. Our only question was: What is gained by making these ordinances breed specific?
The people who ignore laws will not change their behavior just because more laws are created.
If we’ve already decided the “ill informed” are the problem why are we basing legislation on breed which is not the problem?
I think you also proposed a 3 year rotation for breeds of dogs that are considered dangerous? I don’t know if you’ve noticed but most dogs do live a little longer than that. So what happens if I buy a Pomeranian, and on its 1st birthday it’s deemed a dangerous dog. I am forced to take out insurance, pay higher licensing fees and do whatever else is suggested in your legislation. After the 3 year rotation it is taken off the list dangerous dog list, will I then be reimbursed for the extra costs I was forced to incur? What if I am forced to spay/neuter my potential show champion or a working dog? Who will reimburse me for that? What if I own a larger breed and due to early and mandatory spay/neuter it develops hip dysplasia? Will the city then pay for the costs of orthopedic surgery?
What about the increased likelihood of rabies outbreaks because people who do not have properly licensed dogs will not take them to the vet for fear the dog will be confiscated?
You said that you are not calling for the elimination of breeds of dogs, what do you suggest will happen to dogs that are confiscated as a result of the violations of Doug’s Laws? Will the city build them a happy little sanctuary where they will get to live for ever and ever? Will they be returned to their families if they are taken off the dangerous dog list after the 3 year rotation? I somehow doubt this was part of your plan.

You’ve been gone from this blog for about a month now. It doesn’t look like you’ve done any research in that time (except for reading Google News that is). And interestingly you also have made a habit of ignoring questions. On your first post I asked you to show me solid scientific research that shows that pit bulls cause more damage when they bite than other breeds. I still hear crickets.
*chirp chirp chirp*

Olga, the burden of proof is on you sweetheart


Doug, I can only assume you posted the link to the story because you believe it tells the whole truth, the entire truth, and nothing but the truth, and you believe it supports your theory that a dog ( 'pit bulls', right?) can suddenly attack so viciously as to cause the death of a human, without ever having so much as rasied a lip to anyone.

In years past, I have discussed media reports that claim the biting dogs had no history of aggressive behaviour, even though they've gone on to say neighbours had been fearful of the dogs. (The reporters and much of their readers must be schizophrenic, not to see the contradiction. Oh...but it's so many paragraphs lower in the story...)

The media L-O-V-E-S to raise the spectre of fear that any dog, even clearly well-behaved and non-aggressive ones, can suddenly become killers. This works in their favour. They gain greater market share, and can sell more advertising space. Some people here, who've done more media analysis than I have, can give you countless examples and references.

In every single case that I've researched, without equivocation, the dog had a known history of aggression. In many of those cases, the media reported the dog had no history of aggression.

I'm growing weary of pointing out that the lack of a reported, successful bite by a dog in no way infers it has never behaved aggressively. Yet this is often the justification used by reporters or those who support the dog.

The owner of the dog that killed a small girl claims the dog "had never behaved aggressively before." Turns out, the dog had attacked, and even killed other dogs, prior to killing the little girl. That is an extremely aggressive dog! However, the fatal attack was the first REPORTED biting incident against a human, for this dog. So, the owner and reporters claim the dog had never behaved aggressively before. (People will believe just about anything, it seems.)

If I were to call the woman's family, and do my usual vetting, I'd probably have to gently make my way to the truth about the dogs' prior behaviour. Typically, you can't just come out and ask if the dog had a history of aggression because the family will automatically deny it. They may not even realize the signs of aggressive behaviour. Many people think "aggression" means having bitten someone, and that's it. Look at all the owners whose dogs have actually bitten people and they STILL don't label their dogs as aggressive.

If done correctly, the people who had prior history with dog would very likely admit to forms of aggression that they don't readily consider "aggression" (as in the examples I posted already). Too many people think it's "normal" for dogs to guard resources or become aggressively territorial. I find that a large number of people actually acquire dogs in the hopes they'll develop aggressive behaviours which will make their owners feel "safe," "macho," or even "respected," in some cases. People seem thrilled their dogs try to chew through the door when the mailman arrives, then publicly wonder "why, oh, why" was the paper boy was mauled.


Wow. When the cat's away, the mice will play. Welcome back Doug.

A few thoughts on the comments:

1) I think it's possible for someone who is very well read in the field to be an effective "armchair" expert. I think there is an important trait to have in this in that there is an ability to discern information based on the sources and make sense of it. While this doesn't make them experts in the same way as true scientists, I don't think it's fair to dismiss their analysis entirely.

2) Doug, if at any point you can admit to the reality that every pit bull is not dangerous, and that they are a product of their ownership, then any type of breed specific legislation makes no sense at all. If you can admit that even 1/3 of all 'pit bulls' are not dangerous because they have quality owners (a very low number) then any type of breed specific legislation would be overly inclusive. While in and of itself an unfair law, it also creates enforcment inssues. While law enforement officials are making sure the remaining 1/3 of 'pit bulls' (that were never a part of the problem in the first place) are complying with whatever law you enact (spay/neuter, kenneling, etc), this takes resources away from enforcing laws against improperly cared for Rottweilers, Akitas, Chow Chows, etc. that are arctually threats or problems. It also inherantly teaches the general public that a breed of dog is dangerous vs the act of raising the dogs incorrectly. Effective legislation is legislation that most directly affects the actual problems with the bear minimum impact on dogs that aren't a problem. Anything else takes enforcement resources away from the real problems which does not improve public safety.

3) I have some additional informatin regarding the dog attack in Jacksonville. I've been holding off on this waiting for more information but am going to post what I have in the morning. As one would expect, there appears to be a lot more to the story than what was reported.


Certainly, conducting a literature review is not pure or basic science, that's a given - but it is research.

Reading scientific, peer-reviewed (important) articles is a valid way to study a subject.

It is, just not scientific research. It's a matter of semantics.

Science is a field of inquiry that references the inquiry that has gone on before. It is a framework. It must be as objective as possible, reproducible and honest in the reporting of results.

If I want to learn about dog bites, dog behaviour or any other aspect of the subject, why would I reinvent the wheel? By referencing the vast amount of scientific literature that's available, I'm benefiting from all the work that's already been done and reviewed by other scientists.

Obviously, it won't reveal information specific to my area. Obviously, I have to be able to understand the methods and how the authors reached their conclusions in order to separate the good science from the bad.

Studies such as the now infamous CDC report, for example, reveal to even the most casual reader that the research was flawed in many ways beginning with the source of information - media reports.

Some other studies, such as those which investigate the reasons behind dog bites, are more rigorous.

Whether the information is in the NIH library online or whether I have to trek to the local university library to look it up, it's the same info and is just as valid.

I think we are talking apples and oranges here. The term research has multiple meanings not all of which relate specifically to science.

Of course, I agree that spurious sources posting opinion pieces disguised as research are all too common on the internet.



Sorry, guys I was way out of sequence with my last comment - didn't realize there were two pages' worth. I'll say one thing for the Dougster, he gets it rolling LOL

Doug, Marjorie refers to the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly (our provincial government, similar to your state govt) which involved public hearings into the ill-advised 'pit bull' ban. Genetics are not involved.

Go to my blog at

(don't know how to post a link here)

On my left sidebar, under Useful Links is one to the 'pit bull' ban in Hansard (our govt typed record). Once at the govt page, select 'related information' from the tab a few to the right. Scroll down and you'll see the Committee testimony by date.

The animal hospital of Kitchener-Waterloo is one of my favourites.

If you take the time to read the whole thing, every presentation, you should note the following:

The only organizations that supported the legislation were the City of Kitchener (which had a longstanding ban in place but not on the purebreds), the police, the City of Brantford (brought a ban in ahead of the province), the AMO and I think that's it. Not a dog expert among them.

The only individuals were a handful of victims of dog attacks and people who were just afraid of 'pit bulls' with no clear reason for their fear. All pro-ban individuals were invited by the government and were reimbursed for testifying at Committee.

All animal related and expert organizations opposed the ban.

All individuals who opposed the ban were dog-savvy and presented some very fascinating testimony.

I think you might find it interesting reading. I certainly do - I've practically memorized it.

Mac`s Gang

Direct link to the testimony if anyone has problems finding it.



I'm not Olga. When I call someone out I will take full credit for it ,thank you very much.

"Ladies these are facts which are undisputed." Well, in short, bullshit. These FACTS (results from this event) may be undisputed but the CONCLUSTIONS you DRAW from them ARE disputed! You are woefully confusing reality with perception here.

"Now that the woman was killed in Jacksonville by her two pit bulls- she raised since pups, in a loving home, does your statement need modifying?" Have you got the egg wiped off your face yet? Funny, even after seeing for yourself how many stories are MIS-reported at best, FLAT OUT LIES so often. You still put all your eggs in this incidents basket that YOUR BS will work. And again, none of your ideas are new nor have worked anywhere else...

"And again the key to my BSL will force for better ownership. The next breed which the ill informed gravitate to will be next..." Effective laws would solve/largely diminish the problem not shift it to a new breed/location. So, you basically admit your proposal won't work in solving the problem. I'm sure the next person killed by a Cane Corso will be most appreciative "YOUR BSL" kept them from being killed by a pit bull!!!

"The only thing local governments have to go on sometimes is what’s in front of them." And you think this is ok? That the government will make some knee jerk law based on newspaper reportings? But that aside, ALL of the experts (including the CDC a govt org) say BSL is ineffective and less efficient than a well crafted dangerous dog owner ord that applies to ALL DANGEROUS DOG OWNERS...not just a small percentage of them. But I do like the logic in the sense that when applied to the human male species, we can lock them all up with confidence knowing that men are OVERWHELMINGLY responsible for the VAST majority of theft, rape, war, white collar crime, pedophilia, car wrecks and constitute the majority of the prison population!

OK folks. That's officially the last time I address Doug and I suggest everyone else let him go on his merry way as well. He wants to believe what he wants to believe and doesn't want a bunch of "ladies" telling him he's wrong. I think it will take a Weenie dog biting off his genitals bring him to the light...


Here is my exact response from one of the leading Vet Univerisities in the US.

See answers below in CAPS

Doug wrote:
> I went to school at Wentworth Institute and dated someone in the Tufts
> Vet Program (back in the day). She thought highly of the program
> which is why I am seeking your help (or one of your students).
> I and embroiled in a debate on Breed Specific Legislation, and the
> debate is heading toward genetics, while I am an engineer and can look
> up stuff with the best of them I know when to draw the line and seek a
> higher authority.
> My questions are:
> 1 Are all dogs genetically identical? NO

> 2 Are there different "unlearned" instincts in different breeds of

> 3 Is temperament only partially inherited, and are aggressive
> 4. If we know that, if we selectively breed dogs for herding or
> retrieving - we can increase the chances of passing along this trait
> in their offspring. Can the same theory hold true for breeding dogs

> 5. I have seen studies of certain birds rolling eggs, building nests
> which have been isolated from all other birds and yet separate groups
> of birds behave the same way. Can the same instincts be seen in
> Also if you could direct me to any reading material on this issue. I
> Best Regards,
> Doug


Director of Animal Behavior Clinic
Professor, Dept Clinical Sciences
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine


Wow Michelle you are one funny gal....thanks.

Brent thanks for the update on that story.
So I guess the dogs were aggressive and showed signs of aggression. If the dogs were raised in a loving home and the dogs were not raised to be aggressive, does this mean that these dogs were born with the disposition to be aggressive killers?

So in the last few months we have had two adult females attacked and killed by dogs which they lived with.

If there is another incident like this at some point you have to stop making excuses and be a little more pro-active or the city counsel's (I will admit not the brightest people in the world) of your Cities will be making even more decisions on your behalf.


Doug, you wrote:

"1 Are all dogs genetically identical? NO"

The question SHOULD HAVE BEEN are all dog BREEDS identical.

Of course, you @#$#@ #$@#$ (sorry...sorry...that was unnecessary), all "dogs" are not genetically identical anymore than all humans are genetically identical! Kinda puts the CSI folks out of business, if we're all identical. (shaking head)

If you'd asked the correct question, the person responding would have either answered, "Yes, all dog breeds are genetically identical," or they might have mentioned the two "breed identity" tests to have come on the market this year.

Being that both tests are so new, scientifically unaccredited (and, according to the sample collecting processes, encourage the inclusion of non-genetic observations, such as appearance), it is still not possible to say they definitively can distinguish between one breed and another. I've written about these tests, and the science behind them, in the past. The tests look for what are called "markers," in the same way that the human genome includes markers that can hint at our geographical ancestry...which experts caution does NOT, at this time, definitively indicate race.

Doug, you wrote:

"2 Are there different 'unlearned' instincts in different breeds of

Did ya' get that, Doug? "...Qualitatively different."

Doug, you wrote:

"3 Is temperament only partially inherited, and are aggressive behaviors learned? BOTH HAVE INHERITED AND LEARNED COMPONENTS"

A) I've always said that temperament is only partly (directly) inherited.

"It is the position of that temperament is only partially inherited..." - ©2003

"From the same two parents, puppies of all different temperament types can occur. This puts the direct inheritability of temperament into question. And while breeders and dog 'experts' still use terms like 'good' or 'bad' temperaments, this label in no way determines a dog's future actions. Experienced trainers have been known to successfully re-train the most abused and vicious adult dogs. And even a dog of so-called 'good temperament' will become dangerous if abused or neglected.

When you think about it, the label of 'good' or 'bad' temperament is meaningless. If a 'bad' dog can be properly trained, and a 'good' dog can be turned 'bad', what do those labels really mean? What isn't meaningless are the ACTUAL temperament types. There is really no such thing as a good or a bad temperament. There are only types such as dominant, submissive, and all the shades of gray in between.

Different temperament types do sometimes require different training techniques. How successful an owner will be in training a dog is partially due to recognizing which temperament type the dog is. A more dominant dog must be kept more in check, whereas we must build a more submissive dog's confidence. Recognize the temperament type of the individual dog, then choose an appropriate training style to compliment it."

B) ANYONE...and I mean that as unequivocally as possible...who claims that a dog can be born knowing various aggressive behaviours is a liar...flat out.

Psychology DEFINES aggressive behaviours as "learned behaviours."

If you go back to your expert and ask if there has ever been a newborn puppy who responds aggressively when poked, he/she will answer, "No."

I don't want to write it all again, but I detailed one dog breeder's theory that her three-week-old puppies are demonstrating how they're "naturally aggressive", as she proceeds to demonstrate how she is essentially teaching them to respond aggressively. None of them, not one, responded aggressively to her annoying antics the first, second, even third times she roughed them up. When they finally did get around to trying something other than escape, they were rewarded by her stopping the irritation. That is called "training", and it is an excellent example of rewarding a dog for behaving aggressively. In this case, the torment stopped as soon as they tried using their teeth. Not too surprisingly, they get to the biting stage pretty quickly, after that.

It's why every, single dog invovled in an unprovoked biting case I've researched has had a known history of aggression. The scale of escalation of aggressive behaviours in dogs is known, predictable, (most importantly) preventable, and...clearly...learned (one building on the other). You don't get to the successful biting stage without a lot of practice beforehand.

To spell it out, yet again, a dog can be born with various personality or bio-chemical components that make it either more likely to learn aggressive behaviours in an incompetent home environment, or to respond more strongly in various situations, which (again, in an incompetent home environment) might lead to learning, exhibiting, and perfecting aggressive behaviours.

In one of the articles you said you'd read, I wrote,

"For example, people with impulse control issues, whether physiological, psychological or genetic, are as apt to take up extreme sports (a positive activity), as criminality or violence (negative activities). Psychologists agree the determining factor is primarily how those individuals were raised, and which behaviours were reinforced."

The only "nature vs. nurture" part of the debate about aggression in dogs is which temperament qualities (nature) are more likely to present as greater reactivity (that might lead to the development of aggressive behaviours in an incompetent environment), and precisely what it is about incompetent ownership (nurture) that is likely to lead to the development of aggressive behaviours in some, or most, dogs. (Is it mostly the lack of socialization? ...The physical restraint? ...The lack of leadership?)

Doug, you wrote:

"4. If we know that, if we selectively breed dogs for herding or retrieving - we can increase the chances of passing along this trait in their offspring. Can the same theory hold true for breeding dogs to be vicious? I DO NOT USE THE WORD VICIOUS WHEN IT COMES TO DOGS. BUT YES, AGGRESSION CAN BE ENHANCED BY SELECTIVE BREEDING FOR IT (AND VICE VERSA)."

No. It can't. Once again (as above) your "expert" is either confusing personality traits that, in an incompetent home environment, (may) "more readily" lead to those dogs developing aggressive behaviours, than others; or is taking a short cut in answering your question.

I'm only aware of two major studies on this alleged ability to breed dogs to be inherently aggressive. Both were discredited on methodology alone.

For one, you can't be sure two different people are raising two different dogs exactly the same way. (And the ways dogs develop the intial behaviours that lead to aggression can be very subtle as keeping a tight leash, for example.) In fact, we know enough about human nature to know that if you tell someone you expect this dog will become aggressive as it grows up, they will likely react to it in ways that specifically encourage the development of aggressive behaviours.

Two, when test subjects are kept in a clinical environment (caged), we already know that often leads to aggressive behaviours in dogs because of the social-restriction and frustration it induces. (Dogs are socially-dependent creatures who develop aberrant behaviours when isolated.)

I don't need to specially-breed dogs to make them aggressive. I could take anyone's dog and make it aggressive, simply by keeping it according to the methods used in one study. ...No gene therapy needed!

As I said, both studies claiming to be successful at breeding aggressive dogs have already been discredited. If your "expert" doesn't know this, then that says everything. However, I suspect your "expert" does know this, and is merely doing what many people do, when it comes to discussions about aggression in dogs: he/she is generalizing (and even often "dumbing it down" for conversations with unversed folks).

Since it is exceedingly easy to allow/encourage the development of aggression in dogs (which are predators, by nature), then some don't distinguish between what is truly genetic/innate, and what is readily learned, as a result.

Of course, I wrote all this already. You either didn't read it, or didn't understand it.

Here's a summary:

"There may be elements of an individual's temperament that can be genetically linked, but that is not a cause for the development of aggressive behaviour. It merely means that some individuals may be more likely to react more quickly or more vehemently than others in the same situation. HOW the individual responds has everything to do with personal experience. For example, an outgoing child might be more likely to rush to the aid of an accident victim, whereas a more timid child may not. That same outgoing child may then steal the victim's wallet (if raised in a home where criminal behaviour is the norm). The timid child may draw on his CPR training, giving him the confidence to push him into action, ultimately rescuing the victim. Temperament may affect the manner in which we react, but it doesn't determine the actions themselves."

Here's another:

"Of three Labrador Retrievers, two may live up to their breed generalization and fling themselves into water at top speed. However, one of the two swimmers may be well-socialized, and the other may be under-socialized and aggressive. The third Lab may hate the water entirely, whether or not its owners have properly socialized it. It is simply not possible to predict an individual's behaviour based solely on breed/race."

And another:

"Wanna test this concept? Talk to any experienced breeder who claims to 'breed only for good temperaments' and ask if they'd still expect one of their 'good tempered puppies' to be well-mannered if left chained in someone's backyard for the next year? Anyone, with any experience training dogs, will have to admit that a dog of any temperament would probably develop severe behavioural problems as a result of such abuse. If answered honestly, this test clearly shows that environment is paramount in determining a dog's behaviour, and not the dog's temperament itself. Even a dog of 'good temperament' can be encouraged to become aggressive."

And here:

"For example, we see more Border Collies winning Agility because a higher percentage of Agility participants choose Border Collies to compete. Although many Border Collies have just the right combination of temperament and ability to succeed in Agility, this does not mean that every Border Collie is a born Agility champion, nor does it mean that ONLY Border Collies can succeed in Agility. Far from it, actually! We must always step back and look at all the factors involved in why certain breeds seem to excel in certain areas, and distinguish between causal factors such as owner influence (no dog signs up for Agility on its own), conformation (you can try to compete in high jump with your Chihuahua, but you probably won't be very successful), temperament (a dog that is eager to work will be much more likely to stick with rigourous training), and instinct (a natural herding ability will probably be necessary for successful training of a herding champion)."

Doug, you wrote:

"5. I have seen studies of certain birds rolling eggs, building nests which have been isolated from all other birds and yet separate groups of birds behave the same way. Can the same instincts be seen in canines? YES, SOME ELEMENTAL BEHAVIORS ARE VIRTUALLY 100% GENETIC"

Good grief, Doug. If you can present me with anyone who has an I.Q. over 70 who truly believes that all canine behaviours are 100% innate (or learned, for that matter), then I have a cool $20 bill for you.

As I've written over, and over, and over, and over, and over, again; of course many canine behaviours ARE innate, while others clearly, and undeniably, ARE learned.

If all canine behaviours are 100% genetically-based, Doug, then please explain why we are not breeding dogs that are born housetrained, or know how to heel, or have the tools to bring a herd of sheep back to the pen, on command. Explain why I spent thirty years re-training dogs with behaviour problems, or how I was successful in doing so. (I mean, if their problem behaviours are genetically-based then we'd already have eliminated them through selective breeding and/or no amount of training would correct them. That'd be the realm of medication and gene therapy.)

I have to say, it doesn't sound like you're genuinely trying to understand these principles. It seems you simply want to win an argument. If that's the case, then I'm sure you can find hoardes of Internet users who know as little, or less, about canine behaviour, genetics, training, etc., as you do, who'll agree with every premise you surmise. Happy Googling!


Of course I want to win the argument but you are making it too easy.

Now I read all your articles once and some excerpts twice.

Being a lay person on this issue and just recently (1 year) having an issue with free roaming pit bulls in the neighborhood. I have “googled” and now contacted and expert in the field.

While his answers were short (I don’t think he works for goodpooch). He (along with you) have provided info to help with my side of the argument.

(I should have been a lawyer). As you stated; “a dog can be born with various personality or bio-chemical components that make it either more likely to learn aggressive behaviours in an incompetent home environment”. And as the expert stated; “AGGRESSION CAN BE ENHANCED BY SELECTIVE BREEDING FOR IT (AND VICE VERSA)." And as you stated: “If you can present me with anyone who has an I.Q. over 70 who truly believes that all canine behaviours are 100% innate (or learned, for that matter), then I have a cool $20 bill for you.”

Is it not possible that with the constant in-breeding of Pit Bulls to show tendencies toward aggression that people are creating the various dog personalities or Bio-Chemical components that make it more likely to learn aggressive behaviors in an “incompetent home”?

Also is it not possible that with the constant in-breeding of Pit Bulls to show tendencies toward aggression, that the breeders are changing the dog’s instincts percentage of non-learned activity enough to create unstable dogs in an “incompetent home”

Also is it not possible with the constant in-breeding of Pit Bulls to show tendencies toward aggression; that the breeders are creating an inferior dog. Similar to when human siblings procreate and then their children procreate. You end up with offspring which can have mental defects, while this is easily detected in humans (sometimes not until 4-5 years in cases of autism) it may not be that easily detectable with dogs (or at all).

I don’t think that I ever said that dog behaviors are 100% genetically based.

What I am saying is that you can slightly tilt dog behaviors based on breeding and evidently if the dogs are not in a "competent home" I guess you can amplify this aggressive behavior so that they have the potential to kill.

I have no doubt that someone with 30 years of dog training is more than capable of training a puppy which came from dog fighting parents not to attack people. However not everyone has access to this type of resource (now that your retired) hence your “incompetent home” theory.


"Is it not possible that with the constant in-breeding of Pit Bulls to show tendencies toward aggression "

No, it isn't.

Aggression (by which I mean anti-social aggression) is not a unitary (stand-alone) behaviour and it is not an inheritable behaviour.

It is a complex behavioural cluster. That is what is supported by current scientific.

I note that you didn't provide the name of your expert. I'd like to know who you contacted at Tufts, if it was Tufts.

As Marjorie has written and stated ad infinitum, if 'pit bulls' (a non-breed of dog) are bred to be aggressive, then why do so few of them display the characteristic?

I fail to understand why people obstinately refuse to place the blame, in the rare instance where a dog attacks someone, where it lies: squarely on the shoulders of the human who has responsibility for the dog.

That's really all there is to it. Think what you like, it's irrelevant if unfortunate because it's more fun to know facts than to repeat myths.

Oh and if you have a problem with free-roaming dogs in your area, call animal control and keep calling until they address the problem. The breed is irrelevant - packs of dogs should not be wandering around together. It means they are neglected dogs and they need to be contained. Somebody might get hurt.


Pardon me Doug but where did you read that pit bulls are constantly in-bred?
Where did you read that they are constantly in-bred to show tendencies towards aggression?
How can every single pit bull type dog be a descendant of its closest relatives?
And if none of that is true, does your case hold any water?
And thank you for getting us back to square one - people are the problem.
If you do not have access to a qualified trainer and if you are not a competent home you have no business owning a dog.
So what does breed have to do with it again? And how will overbroad legislation help to solve the problem?
And you still haven't answered our other questions. The burden of proof is still on you Doug.


Doug, I have to ask (and Olga alluded to this), but why is there an assumption of "in-breeding" in "pit bulls". The reality is that "pit bulls" are among the top 3 most popular "breeds" of dogs in the country. Most sources say they're the single most popular group. The fact that there are a) a lot of these dogs our there and b) 'pit bulls' are a combination of three (or more) breeds of dogs. The combination of it being a popular 'breed' of dog, and a combination of multiple breeds (and crosses), the reality is that it is unlikely that there is much in-breeding. It's another urban legend that reminds me a lot of the "Dobermans have been inbred and their brains are too big for their small heads and causing them to snap" myth of the mid-80s.


Thanks, Caveat et al.

Here's the thing, Doug. You're focused on breeding, as though these dogs share some kind of as-yet-to-discovered "aggression gene" or something. You talked a lot about in-breeding, as though this is the norm amongst 'pit bulls' or attacking dogs.

If you'd actually read those links I provided, you would've learned that real-world attacks don't support your theory at all...not even theoretically...because, in the real world, dogs involved in unprovoked attacks are not closely related. That means, they couldn't possibly share any unique, genetic quality that is supposed to exist only in that tiny percentage of dogs who attack.

99.9% of all 'pit bulls' will never be involved in an attack at any time in their lives. The less than 0.1% who are involved in unique attack incidents are not closely genetically related.

In the "genetics myth" section the "Canine Primer" (©2003, I wrote:

"...the ACTUAL dogs involved in attacks do not share any unique genetic information with each other, besides that which makes them dogs."

There isn't close genetic ancestry between a Shepherd mix that mauled its owner to death, and the Poodle that attacked a neighbour's child in the throat, in particular the fact they occurred more than a decade, and 3,000 kilometres, apart.

That "genetics myth" section goes on to read:

"We need not look any further than the lack of any supporting evidence for shared genetic pathology in dogs that have actually attacked. They simply aren't any more closely related than the dog population in general.

However, just to completely refute the idea that genetics are involved in attacks, we've broken it down further.

If we group those dogs by breed, we find that even the dogs of the same breed are not genetically related in any meaningful way. They don't share any relevant common ancestors on their pedigrees, and therefore have not inherited some kind of aberrant gene that might explain their inappropriate behaviour.

If they're purebred dogs, we can completely refute the notion that those dogs involved in attacks share some kind of genetic cause for their aggression. By definition, purebred dogs are not crossed with other breeds. To explain a shared genetic cause in dogs from two different breeds, the gene would have to have been inherited from the breeds' shared ancestor, decades (even centuries) earlier, before those individual breeds were even created. No reasonable person would suggest that a gene would lie dormant for centuries in all its descendants, then suddenly cause aggressive behaviours in one individual dog, so many years later. It's preposterous!

Next is the issue of original breed purpose as causational. In fact, whether the attack was against a person or another animal, every single breed of dog has been guilty of serious biting incidents of one kind or another. When a Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier (Terrier group) attacks another dog, it is for the same reason that a German Shepherd Dog (Herding Group), Rottweiler (Working Group), or an American Pit Bull Terrier (UKC, Terrier Group) might attack another dog.

The overwhelming majority of dogs who attack other dogs are from breeds that were NOT originally bred for (some form of) fighting."

Listen, Doug... If you want to theorize a genetic cause for aggressive behaviours in dogs (really putting the 'moronic' in 'oxymoronic'), you'd have to theorize some kind of spontaneous mutation, since attacking dogs are not closely genetically related.

Still, the aggressive behaviours themselves are learned, so no matter what the genetic make up of any dog, it won't become aggressive in a competent home.


Ok again being a lay person, is it possible to breed a dog in such a fashion to cause in-bred defects?

If yes, then it stands to reason that its possible for in-bred pit bulls to cause issues.

And it also stands to reason if Pit Bulls are in the top 3 for dog population, this is the reason that so few dog attacks or kills are associated with pit bulls.

And yes people are the problem....and right now dumb people happen to be gravitating towards pit bulls.

Same rational with gun control...but lets not go there, we have enough on our plate with this issue.


I find the below statment very funny. This kind of also makes my argument regarding my plan for BSL - Better ownership (minus the 3 year rotating plan, as someone brought up what happens when one drops off and another gets on - need to ponder that one some more).

If you do not have access to a qualified trainer and if you are not a competent home you have no business owning a dog.

The above statement would probably take every dog out of 90% of the inner city homes.

Most people who own the standard dog (with no baggage - i.e. could be deemed vicious by ill informed public) typically: Go buy a puppy, raise puppy, feed puppy, play with puppy, puppy pee's on rug say bad puppy, puppy chews up shoes say very bad puppy, puppy grows up becomes part of the family, learns great tricks, goes to the dog park, goes on trips, sleeps in the bed, eats out of your mouth, plays with kids (not eats), runs from the tub, gets old, breaks your heart and dies. No proffesional trainer needed.


I would also like to point out that, in light of the information Brent posted about the woman with the aggressive 'pit bulls, and how I was 'oh so magically' able to 'predict' it (giggling) anyone could've done the same, if they'd read the article at the link I posted for Doug:

"You can be psychic, too!"

The point of the article isn't that anyone has 'psychic' abilities. It's that the factors common to the overwhelming majority of dog bites have EVERYTHING to do with negligent ownership, and nothing to do with the dog's breed/size/shape/colour/etc., as dogs of all breeds/sizes/shapes/colours/etc. are involved in biting incidents.

For the record, yet again, the overwhelming majority of bites, attacks, and fatalities are attributed to non-'pit bull' dogs.


There are some types of dogs that are a result of line and inbreeding.

Brown poodles, for example have a very small gene pool. So do Harlequin Danes. These dogs are bred for a specific and unusual colour, which is why the pool is small.

An experiment with Dalmatians was conducted in order to test whether the breed's proclivity for urate crystals could be solved through outbreeding (they are also prone to deafness). Dalmatians were outcrossed with another breed, can't remember exactly which one right now, might have been Pointers or German shorthaired pointers. Then they were bred back as Dalmatians.

They are visibly indistinguishable from Dalmatians from the closed stud books but a health improvement was noticed. They breed true but unfortunately, the kennel clubs resisted the idea and wouldn't register them as Dalmatians, even after years of breeding true.

So, there are some breeds and colours which result from line and inbreeding but none of the bull and terrier types are selected on that basis, except the Bull, which comes in white or coloured (brindle, tan, tricolour, red, etc and white).

APBTs, AmStaffs, Staffords can be any colour at all except merle. There is variation in adult size, shape of ears, length of tail. They are a generalized type of dog, ie, there is no outstanding characteristic as you see with the Bull's head, the Poodle's curly constantly growing coat, the English Bulldog, Brussels Griffon or Pug's pushed-in face, etc.

Dilute colours are frowned upon in the bull and terrier types because like merles they must be handled carefully in order to avoid health problems related to the colour - don't forget that genes carry a lot of things along for the ride. You don't just select a few variables and manufacture a living thing.

In view of the fact that most 'pit bulls' are mongrels, the whole breeding thing falls apart anyway.

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