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« Very Good Sentences -- from the Huffington Post on Merritt Clifton | Main | Sioux City, IA -- a 6 year look back at its breed-specific legislation »

September 29, 2014



Hey Brent, I'm kind of busy today and I was wondering if you could save me some time by just printing the list of peer reviewed, published articles by Merrit Clifton/Clifton Merrit...whatever that guy's name is...that this article cites to. Thanks in advance - ab


LOL. In what I'm sure was merely an oversight none of Clifton's writing was a part of this scientific paper :) Or Colleen Lynn. Or Kory Nelson for that matter.


There are so many holes in the research in this paper... studies like this make my head hurt. Why study breed traits and then use generic dog traits (like "aggression".. whatever that means?) Why study breed traits and use shelter dogs, of unknown pedigree, as participants?

Meanwhile, in the real world, police and military organizations tend to choose Malinois, sheepherders tend to choose border collies, duck hunters tend to choose Labs, ranchers with diverse flocks in predator country tend to use Great Pyrenees and their relatives. Etc. It's not just a fashion statement...

and p.s. are we not at all even a little upset at the use of the original CDC report??

Cheryl Huerta

Excellent. Thanks for the info. I'm always telling people that science doesn't 'prove' anything but a scientific study/reasearch is only the latest theory/belief. I think this is great evidence to that as it mentions that their findings differ based on where the information came from (survey's or controlled studies).




The paper is not primary research, but is solely a secondary research paper. Thus, as part of the study, it reports many of the holes in the existing research -- including some of the holes in breed selection, and the fact that there is no universally agreed upon definition to the temperament traits.

And yes, the reference the CDC report, but also note that drawing definitive conclusions from bite statistics alone is acknowledged to be difficult. As a secondary research paper, I think they would have called into account their credibility by choosing to completely ignore it. As such, they acknowledged it, debunked it, and moved on.

As for your second paragraph, the study seems pretty clear that breed does play a role in behavior (both due to physical and emotional roles) - but that breed alone is not a true indicator as breeding (within breeds), and learned factors through environment and human interaction are also extremely important. Which is why the labs used by duck hunters are VERY different in behavior than the ones used in the show ring or the ones bred for household pets. This finding should in no way be surprising or controversial.


I think the most glaring flaw is that any paper that leaves out the 3 foremost experts on dog behavior is obviously funded by "Big Pit Bull" and can't be trusted.

Mona Lindauj

Some of the studies, like the one by Svartberg's papers in the early 2000's, are not based on questionnaires, but on a corpus of thousands of dogs' scores from a temperament test in Sweden.

Svartberg's results showed some significant differences between breeds, but also large individual differences within breeds.

These are similar results to everybody else's, mostly from questionnaires. I guess that is good, but it does not seem a lot of progress. And I have not seen anything much new since Svartberg's study,

In addition, very very few of these studies include the mastiff type of guard breeds, where you may expect a lot of aggressive behaviors. That is a big hole in this type of science. I know, I am working on it....

Mona Lindauj

The study on muzzle length is interesting. True, dogs with almost no muzzle appear to have less odor faculties. But these breeds have so many other physical problems that these results should not count for much. The broadmouthed mastiff types were not included. They are large dogs with a shortened muzzle, but still a muzzle.

There are several bullmastiffs doing extremely well in the sport of Nose-Work, so there is no evidence that these breeds with shorter muzzles have any problems sniffing and finding stuff with their noses.

Where they DO have problems is in endurance. These breeds would mostly have problems working with their noses all day long, like the professional detection dogs. The shorter muzzles impede their heat exchange, so they overheat easier, and thus get tired.


Mona -- yes, not all of the studies were survey-based and Svartberg's papers are very interesting. And yes, difference between, and within, breeds.

And agreed on the muzzle-length study. I had always read that they were sometimes less valuable for nose-work, but also know that many "pit bull" type breeds also do amazingly well as scent work and that greyhounds are generally regarded as sight-hounds - so that would run counter to that conclusion. The endurance issues, particularly in in hot weather, makes sense for sure. I just found the use of paws to be interesting from the study as I'd never read that before, but it does follow what I've unknowingly observed over the years.


"I think the most glaring flaw is that any paper that leaves out the 3 foremost experts on dog behavior is obviously funded by "Big Pit Bull" and can't be trusted." Posted by Anthony.

This statement does not make sense to me. Who are these three so-called experts that you speak of and what do you mean "Big Pit Bull"? Are you trying to say that Pit Bull advocates pushed this paper in a biased manner, with misleading information. Pleas elaborate, because I am very curious as to your meaning and your evidence.


Michelle -- I'm pretty sure Anthony is being completely sarcastic in that response...


Success in nosework is at least as much a matter of work ethic as sheer smelling ability (which all dogs have)... that's the reason why so many of the APBT/AST/SBTs do well at the game. And would be really great detection dogs and SAR dogs if people understood this.

"work ethic" can be a breed characteristic ..............

Leif Persson

Genetic studies of dog behaviour - Sweden

Measuring temperament in dogs for breeding purposes - Sweden

Svartberg, K. 2005. A comparison of behaviour in test and in everyday life: evidence of three consistent boldness-related personality traits in dogs

Lisa Lawstudent

Responding to Anthony:

Please kindly share with us, who are these, "3 foremost experts on dog behavior?" I would argue that your opinion of who deserves that distinction is as worthy of debate as the study that Brent has shared with us.

Also, isn't it wonderful that Brent doesn't delete your comments as mine would be censured if I attempted to disagree with any opinions expressed on a place that talks about how dogs bite?

Yes, yes. I'm off-topic. B-b-but, he started it! Gigglegigglegiggle!


As a card-carrying member of Big "Pit Bull", I wish Anthony would not let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, regarding the three foremost experts on this subject being left out in the cold.


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