October 8, 2011

German Shepherds

Susan Orlean, the New Yorker writer who wrote an unfilmable book about orchids that Charlie Kaufman tried to adapt in Adaptation (Meryl Streep played Orlean), writes:
Take the German shepherd. Originally bred to the exacting standards of a German cavalry officer, it became one of the 20th century’s most popular working breeds. But in recent years that popularity, and the overbreeding that came with it, has driven the German shepherd into eclipse: even the police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, who had relied on the dogs for years, recently announced they were replacing them with Belgian Malinois, because the less-popular Malinois were hardier and more reliable.

I don't know much about dogbreeding, so what exactly does "overbreeding" mean? Incest? Not culling the poorest specimens from the litter? 

I've only owned two dogs. First, a cocker spaniel, Topper, back when they were hugely popular and becoming notoriously overbred. He was an aggressive pacifist. He was strongly opposed to children fighting or even arguing loudly, and if you kept it up, he'd bite you. The second was a mutt, Barney. He was more socially adjusted, but he got epilepsy and died young.

When I lived in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, Germans shepherds were, by a long reach, the most popular breed among blacks. It seemed like a smart choice: big, loyal, scary, smart, friendly to your friends. I don't know if that's true anymore.

It seems like nowadays in L.A., dog ownership has trifected: the upscale winner class of nice families goes for some kind of retriever, dopey single girls go for yappy purse dog Chihuahuas, and People With Tattoos go for pit bulls. My wife's aunt in Connecticut told me that these days you have to buy a purebred if you have small children because most mutts (or "curs" as she calls them) are part pit bull. I have no idea if that is true.

I've mentioned this before, but it sure doesn't seem like there has been much progress over the last century in developing improved dog breeds relative to the hugely productive previous century. Orlean seems to imply that most of the good breeds are developed by one person or a handful of breeders, and then the breed deteriorates after it becomes fashionable. 

For example, Orlean says the German shepherd was developed in Germany by one man a little over a century ago. An American soldier brought Rin Tin Tin back to his home in L.A. from WWI, then got him into the movies. Rin Tin Tin was a great animal actor and that set off a fad for German shepherds. Perhaps, but that seems like a long time for the breed to deteriorate. In contrast, the cocker spaniel fell apart quickly after becoming the most popular breed in the 1950s.

The rise of scientific animal breeding in the 18th and 19th Centuries in turn inspired some of the best scientific minds of the age, such as Darwin and Galton, to come up with their big ideas, such as selection and regression. But all that seems very alien to the 21st Century.

Here's an article about a German shepherd guard dog who sold for $230,000.

60 comments:

k said...

Dog breeding seems as alien to our age as landing men on the moon. To watch Scot or Irish shepherd's direct their Border Collies with whistles is like watching the Houston mission control guys direct Apollo 13 back with slide rules. In a few decades, we'll think like the ancient Greeks that there was some mystical golden age a few centuries past that's long gone.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, Germans shepherds were, by a long reach, the most popular breed among blacks. It seemed like a smart choice: big, loyal, scary, smart, friendly to your friends. I don't know if that's true anymore.

Here in London, Blacks (especially of the Caribbean variety) favor Staffordshire Terriers, and so do White Chavs. I guess Whiskey would call that convergence.

Funnily, though I've heard people say Blacks don't like dogs, I don't know many Black families that don't have one. Of course, they don't exactly treat their dogs well, but with the breeds they own and the purposes they're kept for, that's kind of the point.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about overbreeding but they have bred deformed dogs which are very low strung in the hind quarters so they suffer terribly from hip displacement.

Anonymous said...

Inbreeding vs combinations that never should've happened. Health problems vs wtf.

I think it's best to be eugenically open minded. Don't pretend it doesn't matter but do seek to enhance the "breed" by observing the traits of another breed you might like to co-opt . People used to be more unashamedly free to speculate on "if you mated x with y, you'd get x." but now this is only allowed if you're combining popular dogs and giving them silly names like "labradoodle". Perhaps if you stuck with cattle instead of dog breeds, which are often selected by Disney, it'd be an easier topic to discuss.

From personal experience, I've come to the conclusion that dog breeders are defining their categories too narrowly. Take something like the Australian Shepherd which is related to Blue Heeler/Australian Cattle dog and dingo. I think going back into one of the original parts of the combo or a related breed probably helps correct for behavioral traits and prevents genetic defects. In fact, I think this is what a real breeder vs an amateur will do.

And I've only had one purebred dog that didn't have a defect related to inbreeding. Too much emphasis on size, personality or a single color seems to be the culprit. Also there's a more general category that the breeds will fall under. Mine probably would've been fine if the dam and sire were from slightly different yet related breeds which makes me think they were more "inbred" than selectively bred. Overall, I think the typical owner of a "purebred" should actually have one of these hybrids between closely related breeds. That way they can't mess up too much if they create a litter to sell.

Freddy Rumson said...

The PUG is the absolute zenith of dog breeding.

Winston Churchill loved pugs and even wrote a poem "Puggy Wuggy" about his beloved pug.

Fenris said...

Dogs have become fashion accessories and they are being destroyed by it.

Over breeding is basically a coloquism for dogs being excessively inbreed, and breed to exaggerated physical type without regard to health or temperament. Its extremely common with popular show dogs.

The english bull dog for example looked more or less like pitbull 200 years ago, They were extremely athletic and healthy dogs. Nowadays you have to manually assist EB's to get them to breed and you have c-section the bitches to have live births. The english bulldog can not run for extended periods, they are prone to bloat, arthritis is ubquitious, they will inevitably have breathing problems, can pop their eyeball out from sneezing and have an average life span of 6 years. Breeding them is animal cruelty.

Prior to the last couple centuries there really were no such things as dog breeds. Dogs were purpose breed and if dog could do the job it was breed to other dogs that filled that job. This gave rise to land races of dogs that shared similar characteristics that suited a given job.



The german shepard was part of land race of sheperd dogs common through out northern europe they have the same ancestors as Malinois, Groenendahl, and Dutch Shepards.

Horand Von graffath the founding sire of the gsd breed was handsome dog but not very distinctive looking http://tiny.cc/jexwu. He is basically a northern pariah type dog with a bit more mass and head size making him more useful as guardian. Notice the fact his back is not sloped. He looks rather like a sable version of my malamute mix. Check out this short video on GSD's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV7elIy_Aoo
The whole documentary is worth watching for anyone interested in dogs or just bizarre things humans do.

In regards to pit bulls, they actually have the best temperment tests of any dogs seen at the animal shelters I have volunteered at, and were traditional viewed as an especially good breed for children because the completely lacked human agression and were confident dogs with very high pain tolerance who attached very strong to humans. Human agressive pits bull were traditionally drowned because a dog with any human agression is to dangerous to fight in pits because he will turn on his handler when the handler has to take him out of the pit.


Unfortunately as pit bulls have become associated with the underclass they have gained a bad reputation that is mostly undeserved. Beat, chain and mistreat any dog bad enough and it will become aggressive and a pit bull is more capable of causing damage if they are agressive then most other dogs.

There are also lines of poorly breed pits that have lost the lack of human aggression that was typical of the old fighting dogs. Though in my experience this is about as common as human aggressive golden retrievers and Labradors. Much less common then human aggression in GSD's, Rottwielers and most other terriers for instance.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Miami in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I saw first-hand what happens when one breed gets too popular... in this case, German shepherds. A lot of people were breeding them without regard to conformation and health. Widespread hip dysplasia was one result of this. I had a shepherd whom I loved dearly, but when I saw his sire, it was obvious where my dog got his weak hips. My dog ended up being euthanized at only about 6-1/2 years of age. He had some sort of congenital heart defect, and seemed to have had a couple of episodes of congestive heart failure before we took him in for the final trip. But if it hadn't been that, the hips would have caused his last trip to the vet sooner or later.

Yeah, when breeds get too popular, people just breed them and don't pay attention to the quality of their animals. I've also seen that happen with rough-coated collies. The dogs who played "Lassie" were smart enough, but they technically weren't good examples of the breed in terms of conformation.

I would never have a pitbull, or even a pitbull mix. I have just read too many stories of them turning on people, and I.just.don't.want.to.go.there.

beowulf said...

My wife's aunt in Connecticut told me that these days you have to buy a purebred if you have small children because most mutts (or "curs" as she calls them) are part pit bull. I have no idea if that is true.

I guess the one drop rule lives on. As it happens, there's a dog DNA industry. According to the "Mutt Census" (of 36,000 mixed-breeds):
The top 10 most popular breeds found in the nation’s mutts include:
1. German Shepherd (# 2 most popular AKC registered breed)
2. Labrador Retriever (#1 most popular AKC registered breed)
3. Chow Chow (#63 most popular AKC registered breed)
4. Boxer (#6 most popular AKC registered breed)
5. Rottweiler (#13 most popular AKC registered breed)
6. Poodle (#9 most popular AKC registered breed)
7. American Staffordshire Terrier (#70 most popular AKC registered breed)
8. Golden Retriever (#4 most popular AKC registered breed)
9. Cocker Spaniel (#23 most popular AKC registered breed)
10. Siberian Husky (#22 most popular AKC registered breed)

http://barkaroundtown.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/mutt-census-reveals-most-popular-mixed-breed-dog-in-america/

Anonymous said...

Probably amateurs/puppy mills just carelessly breeding ruins the popular breeds.

Less popular breeds may have fewer amateurs ruining the breeds. Consider the Vizsla. It is a really old breed. Only one color and extremely uniform, but not so popular that tons of proles will take to breeding them.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about dogbreeding, so what exactly does "overbreeding" mean? Incest?

As a child my first dog was a purebred from a then-popular breed. Several years ago I came across her genealogy in a box of old papers. While she herself wasn't especially inbred her mother was extremely so, the offspring of a father and daughter. In fact the father/grandfather appeared in the mother's lineage 5 or 6 times.

Anonymous said...

We adopted what we were told was a purebred lab. We saw pictures of him online before agreeing to the adoption, taken at angles where he did look like a purebred lab. When we got him, we figured out he was part pit bull -- probably a quarter. He's got a pit bull's eyes. He still has a Lab's disposition though, and is healthy as a horse. We got him checked out by a vet and he has none of the problems our last few labs had (skin problems, joint problems, etc.).

So it looks like we lucked out. Pit Bulls are a hardy breed. 1/4 Pitt / 3/4 Lab might be a better, healthier dog than all Lab.

Jim O said...

(1)Adaptation was worthless from the get-go, since identical twins never have such disparate personalities. If you can't buy the premise, you can't buy the story.

(2)"Trifected." Now that's what I call verbification!

Anonymous said...

In a few decades, we'll think like the ancient Greeks that there was some mystical golden age a few centuries past that's long gone.




A few decades? I'm way ahead of you!

nick said...

Belgian Malinois are bred strictly for work. German Shepherds, not any more. Working line GSD breeders exist, but obviously they aren't doing as good a job as the Malinois breeders.

As a sidenote Belgian Malinois aren't exactly purebreds. It is a common secret that many come with false pedigrees to hide cross-breeding with similar working breeds.

Anonymous said...

Trifurcated, do you mean?

dearieme said...

Why do so many doggy people want to own a particular breed, when most cat owners happily settle for any old moggie?

Anonymous said...

I've heard people say Blacks don't like dogs

In the southern USA, dogs were traditionally bred to be able to sniff out Blacks [so as (thereby) to be able to protect the homeowner from Black lawlessness].

Karen said...

I know something about puppy mills from my work. "Overbreeding" isn't a technical term, but is used to mean "irresponsible breeding," including both incest and forcing females to have too many litters in a short period of time. The most genetically perfect bitch on Earth bred to the most perfect dog will still produce sick offspring if it's her fourth litter in a year.

I have friend who breeds Rottweilers. She tells me dog people HATE movies with dogs as main characters because they make millions of people want that breed. The Taco Bell chihuahua, Spuds Mackenzie, all caused a fad for their breeds that led to massive numbers of poorly-bred pups ending up abandoned in shelters.

I have two pure-bred rat terriers, a breed only recognized by the AKC last year. Ratties are the formalized version of English and Scottish varmint dogs, and being so recently made official the breed still has a lot of hybrid vigor. They're not very big but don't have the purse dog personality, smart, good with kids, and generally excellent critters, although they do need lots of exercise. Here's a a picture.

Anonymous said...

Dearieme, in the US dogs are the new children. So of course you'd want something identifiable to impress the neighbors.

Nanonymous said...

If you want a healthy dog, the best chances are indeed purebreds. Just make sure that the breeder is responsible, find an exceptionally healthy line and pay about $3,000. Alternative is to pick a mutt off the street but then you don't know what kind of personality traits you will be getting. The overbreeding problem is partially ameliorated by today's increasing trend to create crossbreeds. This creates a lot of sick dogs but also some with exceptional hybrid rigor. Time will sort them out. Labradoodles, for example, have a great potential.

Conatus said...

Twenty years ago I had a couple of lab mixes who would follow me on a thirty mile canoe trip down the Shenandoah. They wouldn't kill a fly. Now I have a purebred Lab who will chase down, backbite and kill groundhogs in an open field, tired squirrels too. Other assorted animals have also felt the wrath of her mouth. She definitely has the killer instinct. Where that came from I have no idea because we have the papers on her. She is a great guard dog too with a basso profundo bark that stops anybody in their tracks.
I do not think, however, that the concept of 'let me bite the human' has ever entered her head.
The point is retrievers can be bad asses too.

Anonymous said...

Dog breeding is racist.

Mercer said...

"I don't know much about dogbreeding, so what exactly does "overbreeding" mean? Incest? Not culling the poorest specimens from the litter? "

She means culling.

"It seemed like a smart choice: big, loyal, scary, smart, friendly to your friends."

If you want to scare strangers and will spend a lot of time training a GSD could be a good choice. If you want a dog that does not require a lot of training and you don't want to worry about your kids friends getting bit GSD are not a good choice.

There are many lonely bitter men who post on Steve's blog. I can tell them from experience having a friendly dog, not a GSD, is a great way to meet women.

neil craig said...

I assume Steve is takin g this as a metaphor for western society. Producing not to maximise utility but to fit a predetermined "politically correct" ideal produces a vicious circle rather than hybred vigour. Thus we pour um;limited amounts of money into windmills because they are the breed of choice and it doesn't matter how inefficient they are. Ditto for Presidents - so long as they are the right colour and have the right views on unimportant things like waht the word "marriage" meanms it doesn't matter if they are competent.

Both signs of groupd which are so comfortable they are unaffected by the evolutionary pressures of the Gods of the Copybook Headings.

Mercer said...

"want a healthy dog, the best chances are indeed purebreds. Just make sure that the breeder is responsible, find an exceptionally healthy line and pay about $3,000."

The books I have read on dogs say that mutts are generally more healthy then purebreads.

If you do not insist on a puppy you can get a purebread easily for no more then $250 where I live. People can go to petfinder.com to see what is like where they live. The easiest purebread to get will probably be a greyhound.

Shawn said...

The problem is that an understanding of dog breeding (or an understanding of creating a racial superman of a dog) leads to really bad racist, racist thoughts which can dampen our approved understanding of the human races.

Anonymous said...

OK, why did blacks switch from German shepherds to pit bulls? I'm curious.

Nanonymous said...

in the US dogs are the new children.

True (to some extent).

So of course you'd want something identifiable to impress the neighbors.

Bullshit. Most people who want purebreds want predictability. The degree to which one can count on predictable personality and health is higher with purebreds than with mutts without any history.

The bigger problem is people who take a dog without doing any research only to later find out that they can't handle, for example, high activity level.

Anonymous said...

Overbred is a term for simply producing more puppies without much regard to their quality. Selling pet grade as breeding grade sort of thing, which over time will lead to poor breed form/behavior standards. Inbred is "incest" though all pure breeds and mutts have this to some extent or another. It's not a moral issue, think of Mendel with his sweet peas, it's simply ensuring the desired traits by selective breeding. In any case, purebred dogs are the best way to go for desired behavior if nothing else.

By the way, Pugs are a great choice for those with children and/or those who want a child in dog guise. Bred for centuries by the Chinese and then by English and other European royalty, they are big dogs in a small package and are comical, happy, nonbitey, and deeply devoted to their humans. And they are instantly recognizable in their Fawn coloration, though less so in the unlovable and unlucky Black coloration.

Baloo said...

Just a thought, but I understand there were no domesticated dogs in Africa, but Indo-European (White) peoples seem to have kept dogs for millennia. Could it be that they've evolved to appreciate each other? Are Whites more capable of 'reading' a dog? Therefore more likely to want to own a dog? We need some Cochran input.

Charles Pooter said...

By 'trifected' I think Steve means 'trifurcated' or 'trisected', or perhaps 'split into three identifiable groups'. I looked up 'trifected', thinking, why can't that man write some sort of Anglosphere English that even people east of the Atlantic can understand, but all I found was an explanation of 'trifecta' which (as no doubt all those west of the Atlantic already knew) is some sort of horse racing bet.

Dan Kurt said...

re: "In regards to pit bulls, they actually have the best temperment tests of any dogs seen at the animal shelters I have volunteered at, and were traditional viewed as an especially good breed for children because the completely lacked human agression and were confident dogs with very high pain tolerance who attached very strong to humans."Fenris said...

How true about pit bulls. A wonderful book about pit bulls as well as dogs as a subject is: The Dogs of Capitalism, Book 1: Origins. [to my knowledge there was no Book 2] by Mitchell Jones, no ISBN, published by 21st Century Logic, Austin, TX, 1988.

Dan Kurt

Svigor said...

I don't know much about dogbreeding, so what exactly does "overbreeding" mean? Incest? Not culling the poorest specimens from the litter?

The latter is my assumption; the same thing happened to the APBT.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the German shepherd and many other breeds is American breeders and American dog shows.

They breed for and reward looks, wherase in their home countries they were bred for a certain set of working skills and temperment.

Mocing to a looks-based breeding has not only cost them the traits that made them popular but often results in a lot of health problems that would be weeded out by breeders interest in ability.

Kylie said...

"The english bull dog for example looked more or less like pitbull 200 years ago, They were extremely athletic and healthy dogs."

Yes. Those roly-poly bulldogs you see with the fat rippling on them are badly bred bullies, not at all what the breed is supposed to be.

"Nowadays you have to manually assist EB's to get them to breed and you have c-section the bitches to have live births. The english bulldog can not run for extended periods, they are prone to bloat, arthritis is ubquitious, they will inevitably have breathing problems, can pop their eyeball out from sneezing and have an average life span of 6 years. Breeding them is animal cruelty."

Not necessarily, though it's true that the EB is a sprinter, not a marathoner. Our first EB had no breathing problems, no arthritis, in his prime weighed 70 lbs with not an ounce of fat on him and lived to 9 1/2 years.

We got an OEB b/c they're supposed to live longer with fewer health problems than the EB. Our 3 y/o OEB doesn't tolerate heat as well as our 6 y/o EB and in any weather, gets winded before the EB does.

"In regards to pit bulls, they actually have the best temperment tests of any dogs seen at the animal shelters I have volunteered at, and were traditional viewed as an especially good breed for children because the completely lacked human agression and were confident dogs with very high pain tolerance who attached very strong to humans."

Yes, that's been my observation, too. I have never seen a more affectionate breed. A properly bred and socialized APBT is a joy to be around.

"I would never have a pitbull, or even a pitbull mix. I have just read too many stories of them turning on people, and I.just.don't.want.to.go.there."

I know a lot of white people who feel the exact same way about having black people as their neighbors.

The difference is that your opinion is based on misinformation and theirs is not.

Anonymous said...

I've mentioned this before, but it sure doesn't seem like there has been much progress over the last century in developing improved dog breeds relative to the hugely productive previous century. Orlean seems to imply that most of the good breeds are developed by one person or a handful of breeders, and then the breed deteriorates after it becomes fashionable.

It could be partly due to urbanization.

A century ago most people were rural. More people needed or had dogs for more functional purposes. This environment is more conducive to allowing the expression of certain phenotypes.

With greater urbanization and people moving to cities and suburbs, you're introducing a more uniform environment for dogs. The environment is less forgiving of certain phenotypes and dogs have to be better behaved, comfortable around lots of people, etc. There's less leeway for diverse phenotypes being expressed, developed, selected for, except for more cosmetic physical ones.

gwood said...

The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association requires a doggy IQ test to register a pup. I'm surprised that's even legal.

Maya said...

I volunteer at the animal shelter in the southern inner city where i now live and work, and I have fostered quite a few pups when the shelter would run out of space. Most mutts are, indeed, part pit. But I must say that the breed gets a bad rap. I used to be weary of them too, but did you know that before dog fighting gained in popularity, pits were known as the "nanny" breed? The majority tend to be sweet, smart and, above all, eager to please. Of course, just like human beings, dogs can go crazy, and this is a muscular breed with a strong jaw. That said, mutts tend to be healthier both mentally and physically than all pure breads, and psychotic breaks are extremely rare. (Actually, one breed that became known for mental problems is Spaniel, especially those with black coats. Several instances per year were recorded worldwide where a Spaniel's eyes would get glassy and it didn't seem to recognize its owner before brutally attacking.)Plus, a lot of the pit mixes are less muscular and have less powerful jaws. One of my long term foster puppies whose mother is a pure looking pit and father was, probably, a black lab got adopted a few days ago. His only flaw is being too shy and sensitive. I'll miss him.

Maya said...

"7. American Staffordshire Terrier (#70 most popular AKC registered breed)"

Yeah, AST is a pit.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on the People With Tattoos.

When we moved to a Southwestern US metropolis a few years ago, and settled in a vibrantly diverse section of town, we got a real education from our Mexican-American neighbor's dog.

This creature would literally bark all day, every day, and all night, at every passing mosquito, and they saw nothing wrong with it. He was keeping them safe.

He was never once taken for a walk, played with, or given any attention of any kind. In fact, he was so psychotic that his favorite pastime was to hurl himself against the chain-link fence like a cannonball, causing a great crashing sound.

Then there was the time a different neighbor, different dog, walked past and let the dog poop in the front yard, blithely unconcerned until I angrily chased him down the street. Uncollected dog poop was as common as junk-food litter on the sidewalks and graffiti tags on the street signs.

dog sage said...

"Why do so many doggy people want to own a particular breed, when most cat owners happily settle for any old moggie?"

You really haven't owned a dog, have you? Dog personalities/traits are more varied and robust. Propensity to bark, energy level and even whether or not the critter is more or less obedient all play a role in the decision. Some people do better with a hypoactive, obedient dog like I'd assume you'd get in a Basset Hound.

Other traits that seem to be related to breed: digging/nondigging, licking/nonlicking, fastidiousness, independence, neuroticism or low tolerance for boredom that can lead to destructive chewing. IQ can also play a part. I've decided that with dogs (and perhaps with children) too smart can cause unnecessary complications unless you're really, really driven to impress your friends with dog tricks.

Problem is when you get a mutt you're in for some surprises, many of which may be unpleasant, lifelong traits. If you're a more ethical person, you're kinda stuck. Yes, you can adapt and even find a good trainer or get good at training but this can be a costly venture requiring perhaps more patience and creativity than you've got. The less money you have, the more commitments to work and human family, the less you're going to be able to cope well. I try not to judge people if they get in over their heads with a dog once and get rid of it but do expect them to choose more carefully the next time around.

Also, shelters are notorious for lying about whether or not a dog is mixed with a popular, nonaggressive breed. You can indeed take home a pit bull mix having been assured it was part lab or poodle.

Maya said...

"Also, shelters are notorious for lying about whether or not a dog is mixed with a popular, nonaggressive breed. You can indeed take home a pit bull mix having been assured it was part lab or poodle."

<<
>>
That might be true... In my shelter, usually it's because we aren't sure what's the dog's exact mixture of breeds, so we list them as an X-mix, X being one of our guesses that we think would make the dog more adoptable. So, Lab mix is usually what we and our vet had guessed to be a lab/pitbull/beagle mix, or something like that.
However, most rescue shelters in my area are really good about making sure that you are comfortable with the new dog before collecting the fee. People are encouraged to try the dog out for a week or two. Afterwards, everyone is still welcome to bring the dog back. All the dog's behavior and health problems are always fully disclosed too. It makes sense because dog rescues aren't money making operations. We really want to make sure that the dog is happy at the new home and that it doesn't find itself thrown back into the streets. That's the whole reason for a rescue's existence. These types of shelters are usually run by middle aged, childless (oftentimes there is a back story of failed attempts to adopt a child) , religious married couples who bleed all their savings into them. Or maybe that's my experience because I got into the whole rescue/fostering thing in the South.

Kylie said...

I forgot to mention the usual caveat: that "pit bull" is a notoriously inaccurate term wrongly applied to every breed from a boxer to a bulldog.

Used more accurately, "pit bull" refers to the APBT, the Am Staff and the Staffie.

Kiwiguy said...

In 'When We Were Kings' didn't George Foreman get offside with the Congolese because he brought along his German Shepherd? Apparently it reminded them of the Belgiums and their police dogs.

Karen said...

Nthing the love for well-bred and trained pit bulls. Any dog originally bred for working with animals -- including in the case of pits for bull-baiting -- were bred also to be nice to humans because they would have to be trained by humans. (Incidentally, I think St. Bernards actually have killed more people than pits. 200 lb. carnivores are dangerous creatures as a general rule.)

Also, the sort of people who think meth dealing is a rewarding career raise their dogs like their children -- poorly. They'd turn a timid chihuahua into a drooling monster beast. They latched on to pits and Rottweilers and, now, dogo argentinos and presa canarios and other mastiff-descended breeds for their Badass Factor and not for the advantages of a large, smart dog with strong territorial instincts.

Crawfurdmuir said...

Anon.'s comment of 11:07 today is to the point. Many breeds have been selectively bred for conformance to some physical ideal, without regard to working abilities. The Irish setter is an example. Once a popular breed for upland hunting, it has almost disappeared from the field. One fellow hunter opined to me that the sleek head shape desired by the show-dog breeders leaves too little room for the brain. I am not a sufficient authority on dog physiology to say whether this is true, but there is plenty of testimony to the difficulty of training the present-day Irish setter as a bird dog. At some point, most have given up and switched to other breeds.

Anonymous said...

Re scientific livestock breeding of 18th and 19th centuries
***********************************
It is hard not to presume, at least tentatively, that knowledge of breeding in some shadowy way was resorted to for a long long time and probably informed attitudes in Medieval times and in the UK much later about the fitness of various interbeeding sectors of a larger interfertile population--whether milk cows or bipedal verbalizers. People with enough land to do so have been separating the "canners and cutters" from the "choice and prime" for a helluva long time more than 300 years. But my larger question is why some well illustrated (if on informed conjecture ) account of the natural and domesticated "evolution" of--say-- cows, dogs, and horses has not been well known and referenced in English (on one side of the Pond or the other ) for a long time? The Great Taboo of biologically-based racial distinctions appears to radiate out far and wide and backwards into historical knowledge.

Anonymous said...

One wonders if a big barrier to Blank Slate delusions in previous history was not the intimate awareness of livestock breeding and heritability in animals evident to the senses generation after generation on farms and in rural villages? Likewise, when it was more common than exceptional for faithful rural marriages to produce 6-8 children, the observed behaviors generation after generation would have made Blank Slate assertions unpersuasive to those with experience outside of urban settings.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Nanny, I'll remember that when I'm protecting my dog from all the ill-tempered large breeds whose yuppie owners keep them crated all day while they're at work. These people obviously did plenty of research.

Bullshit indeed...

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Corrupt breeders and puppy mills are a big part of the problem, but another factor is dog showing has become a gay/female ghetto, with owners obsessing over the aesthetics of the show ring instead of how the breed functions. German shepherds need to be bred for a herding dog's efficient, loping gait, not for low-slung hindquarters that look cool in pictures. Form should follow function. This is an essentially male worldview that women and gays really don't get.

Dog breeding is a microcosm of the larger problem. Broadway, the Episcopal church, dog shows are now largely female/gay-dominated institutions. Political offices are becoming feminized. Law enforcement and the military held out for a long time, but now they're slouching toward Gomorrah too.

Whenever this phenomenon happens, the straight men pack up their families and leave. The real badasses go to work for Dyncorp and Xe; the real cops join SWAT; hunters and herders start their own competitions; male Episcopalians head to Rome or Constantinople. I think the Left ultimately recognizes this and it drives them crazy. If women and gays can't dominate the playground--and they never can because the straight males just go off to scale the next peak-then they will just blow up all the playgrounds.

Anonymous said...

As a child, I longed to have a pet dog. As an adult, I can no longer understand the appeal.

Dogs seem to have become human replacements in the minds of many people. A psychologist once pointed out to me that lonely single men tend to own female dogs. And I know a lot of single and childless women with dogs.

I have nothing against canines, but to me they seem like pointless extra mouths to feed unless you have a genuine use for them.

gwood said...

I assume Darwin called it "natural selection" because everybody already understood what artificial selection meant.

Tod said...

The breed was created with a 1/4 wolf cross. Adaptive introgression ? No, unless you count looks, the breed success came from it's resemblance to wolf looks.

A guy tried to make a stronger wolf cross

"In 1921, Dutch breeder Leendert Saarloos started crossbreeding a German Shepherd Dog male to a female Mackenzie Valley Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis). He aimed for an improved version of the German Shepherd Dog which would be immune to distemper, and succeeded insofar that the Saarlooswolfdog we know is a strong imposing dog, but it kept its wolflike characteristics; it is cautious, reserved and lacks the ferocity to attack; it is not the dog that Leendert Saarloos hoped to get. His theory was also proven wrong, as nearly all the first generation hybrids succumbed to distemper. "

Re. inbreeding, many breeders favor the bitch/ grand sire cross.

Tod said...

Wolves look much the same the world over, dog breeds are very different. Wolves are selected for function. Dog breeds for appearance (though sometimes for ‘functional’ appearance as with German Shepherds' resemblance to a wolf).

Aleutian Islands rats have evolved complex novel behaviours like snacking on the brain and eyes of auklets and stockpiling the rest in a den for winter. These rats’ adaptation to their peculiar environment makes them not noticeably different in appearance to other rats.

Why are humans so similar to rats and wolves in their adaptability but so similar to dog breeds in their radically different appearance ?

Darwin thought the races were the result of sexual selection rather than adaptation to environmental conditions. He pointed out that white women were universally thought beautiful by men of non white native races all over the world. Kanazawa confirms that is still true and points out that that black men are more physically attractive (net of IQ) than men of other races.

One of iSteves' most interesting posts was the one about good looks being largely gender specific and handed down to the wrong sex offspring a positive disadvantage.
The Huston (John and daughter Angelica) family was discussed as an example as was the data from the Isle of Rum Red Deer project.

Gene Berman said...

k:

The shepherds COMMUNICATE with their dogs via whistles and the communications may include instruction messages, etc.; the slide rule has no such function vis-a-vis Apollo 13 ( or any other).

The slide rule (now outmoded, I'd guess) was just a way to add (and subtract) logarithms.

And, by the way--you've heard about the three constipated mathematicians? No? Well, the first used a pencil and some paper on the problem. The second used his slide rule. And the last guy worked it out with logs!

Steve Sailer said...

"Trifected"

I must be spending too much time at the dog track.

triffid said...

"I have nothing against canines, but to me they seem like pointless extra mouths to feed unless you have a genuine use for them."

While we're getting to be a leaner, cleaner more frugal and efficient people, we can also give up:

junk food
snacks
gas guzzling cars
television/movies
art
most home decor
jewelry
make-up
alcohol
tobacco
sex unless for purposes of procreation
then again, is there a use for children?

Maya said...

"Yeah, Nanny, I'll remember that when I'm protecting my dog from all the ill-tempered large breeds whose yuppie owners keep them crated all day while they're at work. These people obviously did plenty of research."

As it has been stated previously, any dog can behave badly and become dangerous, if constantly mistreated. Otherwise, yes, pits make great children dogs. Their old "nanny" reputation is well deserved. Their new "killer" reputation isn't. Plain and simple. Anyone who actually works with dogs will tell you that.

It seems your problem is not with dogs, but with people who don't take care of them. I agree with you there. I got myself to quit avoiding adulthood, teaching overseas, by promising myself a dog once I get back to America and get real teaching credentials. Now I foster because, on closer reflection, I consider it cruel to have a dog as a single person who works full time. Still, my home is a lot more comfortable and loving than a cage in a shelter. So everyone wins. The sweetest dogs I had in my home were pit mixes. I especially like pairing adult pits with puppies of any kind; very touching to observe. A lot of my mixed pit charges were good with cats also.

Charlotte said...

"Dogs seem to have become human replacements in the minds of many people. A psychologist once pointed out to me that lonely single men tend to own female dogs. And I know a lot of single and childless women with dogs.

I have nothing against canines, but to me they seem like pointless extra mouths to feed unless you have a genuine use for them."

Some people just don't "get" animals. In fact, a lot of people. That's why they were so callously treated for so long, in so many cultures. Mind you--I'm not accusing you personally. But nevertheless, creatures who cannot talk to us, or breed with us (thank god that's not on the PC agenda yet) have just not got the same claim on our attentions.
Domestic animals communicate in a different way, they offer a different kind of love. It's not something you can explain -- it's like a near death experience, or seeing an impossible ufo. They communicate without words, and express emotions. I have seen love in their eyes, and I never thought I'd see that. I was not always convinced I could have strong feelings about a cat or dog. Seen a lot of animals out of the world and I am haunted by their expressions, and some of things they did (they say goodbye somehow, they always know before you do). One little kitten with a crushed paw, and painful bone infections I tried wrongly to save, crawled into bed with me the last night he could walk. The next night I woke and found him stretched stiff and dead on the bathroom floor in fluids. I was beside myself...
And btw, many of the most involved animal lovers have been married, usually still are, and have reproduced humans.
Animals are not a substitute for human companionship. They offer something else.

Anonymous said...

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/10/14/rebeccas_war_dog_of_the_week_south_koreas_clone_dog_army