Sunday, October 11, 2009
dog aggression? long read but worth it
Thank you Lindsat Biddle for a great article I COULDNT HAVE WRITTEN THIS ANY BETTER !! The things in bold I strongly aggree with ,
What should we do about dog aggression?
Filed under: PIT BULL BLOGGS — bahamutt99 @ 3:18 am by Lindsay Biddle
When we talk about the American Pit Bull Terrier, most dyed-in-the-wool fanatics will tell you (often with the gleam of pride in their eyes) that it is without a doubt a dog-aggressive breed. But when you ask the unknowing public about Pit Bulls, they often equate them more with consuming babies than with attacking other dogs, and will even use terms like “pack mentality” when referring to them. Of course, the remainder of APBT enthusiasts are scattered somewhere in between. Some take sensible precautions with their dogs while others go so far as to turn them loose at a dog park. Still others don’t even bother to think about the aggression at all until it explodes like a landmine in their face.
What about those of us who are responsible for the breeding, judging and overall continuation of the breed? What are we supposed to do about the dog aggression in our dogs? On one end, you have fanciers who wouldn’t dream of owning (let alone breeding) a dog who did not show enough fire. On the other end are those who are working to squelch that fire completely. Is there such a thing as right and wrong here? Is it right for a breeder to focus on producing dogs that are so hot they cannot breed without human intervention? Is it wrong for another breeder to produce dogs so cold that they might as well be Golden Retrievers? (And I am not saying that as a breed Goldens are 100% dog-friendly; they were the first example that sprang to mind.)
When researching about pit winners that got along with other dogs outside of the pit scenario, I came across a lot of “I heard,” and “I was told,” but there are enough tales circulating that we can reasonably believe that there were some pit CH and GRCH that could tolerate other dogs. Two that spring to mind were GRCH Santa’s Mongoose and GRCH Greenwood’s Jimmy Boots. Mongoose was said to roll on his back and allow puppies to nip at him, while Jimmy Boots was said to ignore other dogs unless they made the horrible mistake of attacking him first.
These were exceptional dogs, no doubt, but is there a reason why they shouldn’t be the ideal? We strive to preserve the heritage of the breed, but do we adhere so blindly to a limited purpose that we also limit the breed’s future?
Today’s dog is usually measured by his capacity as a family dog. It is our responsibility as proponents of the breed to maintain his functional ability, but I think we have to come to terms with the fact that most APBTs are in pet homes. And pet homes don’t necessarily want a dog that will kill their other dog, or their neighbor’s dog, or a visiting friend’s dog. I hear in my head the counter-argument – one which I’ve made myself – that this is not the right breed for every home and people should respect that. There is sound truth in that statement, but is it a good enough reason to discourage breeding dogs who lack the characteristic dog aggression?
Those that know me know I’m no fan of matching, but I can’t help but wonder if it is actually the criminalizing of matching which has led to an increase in dog aggression. Perhaps enthusiasts – robbed of the opportunity to prove their dogs in the pit – are simply selecting the dogs who behave in the most fight-ready manner.
Before I am driven out of the community with pitchforks, I feel I should share my viewpoint on the subject. My take is simply that dog aggression should not be a factor in a breeding program. Breed your best dogs and don’t worry about the rest. If that means the breed’s temperament becomes a bit more moderate over time, so be it. But it is foolishness to my mind to value a fight-crazy maniac more highly than his equally nice (but relatively laid-back) brother. Just as I feel it is foolishness to exclude a dog from a breeding program because it is too hot. I no more want to see the APBT watered down than I would want to see him become a Sheltie, but I think some breeders are over-emphasizing keeping him as hot as possible.
I can easily embrace the idea of wanting to preserve the breed as a complete animal, including a temperament that reflects his history. But are we as modern-day fanciers of the breed inadvertently favoring dogs who themselves would not have been favored 100 years ago? I have heard many historical stories of dog-friendly or dog-neutral pit winners, and not so many of dogs who were so hot that they would attack puppies and females in heat. (The source is lost in my muddy memory, but I have heard of dogmen who disliked dogs that would attack puppies, thinking they were curs. Things like that give the lie to “bait animal” stories, but I digress.) Perhaps it is just a blind spot with me. Or perhaps it means that old-time pit dog breeders didn’t place a high emphasis on a dog’s willingness to grab any other dog.
Time goes on no matter what we do, and the breed does change. We have a responsibility to preserve the American Pit Bull Terrier, but we also must at some point decide where our priorities lie. What is most important to the APBT’s future? Do we keep the fire burning at all costs; worship the grab-anything dog as the escutcheon of the breed? Do we throw out that old warrior business and start breeding the APBT as the ultimate family pet? I can only hope that the answer lies somewhere between the two extremes.
September 18, 2008
A word about courtesy