Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breed based canine aggression study

Brent over at KC Dog Blog has an excellent piece discussing the results of a recent study on dog aggression based on breed. Of particular interest is Pit Bulls. Turns out they rank as one of the most people friendly dogs around. However, Pit Bulls don't do so well with other dogs, about the same as Chihuahuas and Jack Russel Terriers.

What's even more significant, though, is that there is a wider variance within any particular breed than there is between different breeds. In other words, whatever the breed reputation, there is a good chance the dog won't fit the stereotype. Which just goes back to what most sane people have been saying all along: each dog deserves to be judged on its own merit.


Anonymous said...

To take from this study that "pit bulls don't do so well with other dogs" is really not the point, in my opinion.

What I take from it is that "pit bulls" are not markedly different from other dogs in regards to aggression, in general.

Lynn said...

This is so interesting. It's frustrating how often people dismiss science when it contradicts their beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Definitely dogs don't always fit the stereotypes, or the suggested results of the study, either.

Just last week, a friend's pit bull was attacked by a Bernese Mountain dog that ran up to them off leash. It bit her pit on the throat, and her dog did not retaliate in any way. One of the breeds ranked lowest on dog aggression in this study was the Bernese Mountain dog. So yes dogs are individuals and don't fit into broad generalizations about temperament.

Jeremy Shaver said...

Terrific link.. One of the really interesting points to me (as a scientist and shelter volunteer) is that the within breed variance is larger than the between breed variance.

This means that two dogs from the same breed are as likely to be as different as two dogs of different breeds. Thus, trying to draw a conclusion on behavior based on breed is tentative at best.

In addition to raising questions about breed-specific laws, this also brings into question the efficacy of buying from a breeder. It lends some evidence to something many have obseved: just because you carefully researched a breed to go spend your life savings on, doesn't mean the dog YOU get will be a carbon copy of that "expected" behavior.