March 3, 2013

"Pit Bulls and Parolees"

When my father was in the hospital in 2011, I watched an Animal Planet show called "Pit Bulls and Parolees," but I guess I'm not really part of the pit bull target demographic. Let me say upfront that I'm aware that put bulls are wonderfully loyal and they don't bite very much (the problem is that when they do bite they sometimes don't let go). In contrast, Labrador retrievers are bred to retract their teeth and gum rather than bite down. So, Labs are unlikely to maul your children's friends.

Audacious Epigone uses Google Trends to tabulate searches for "pitbulls" v. "labradors" by state. The most Labrador retriever-biased state is New Hampshire and the most pit bull-centric state is Mississippi: Moynihan's Law of the Canadian Border again.

Has there been much improvement in dogs in my lifetime? Ray Sawhill likes to point out how much better food has gotten in his lifetime, and that strikes me as close to indisputable. The board at Rice U. in the 1970s was awful by contemporary standards. 

But I don't see much evidence that dogs are getting better. Perhaps the amazing gains of (roughly) the 19th Century when most modern breeds were more or less invented were a one time deal, and only marginal improvements are genetically possible anymore. 

On the other hand, commercial animal breeding for specific traits continues: dairy cows produce twice as much milk as 40 years ago. Plant breeders apparently have made marijuana vastly stronger, too.

So, maybe animal breeding just doesn't attract the right type of hobbyist anymore. If you asked people 150 years ago to name somebody interested in animal breeding, they might have come up with Charles Darwin. Today -- Michael Vick. 

Or maybe it's the worldview. Perhaps the Whiggish world view that produced Darwin is a delicate flower. 

59 comments:

Auntie Analogue said...

"Plant breeders apparently have made marijuana vastly stronger...."

Which, Mr Sailer, begs the question: how would this have become apparent to you?

Correlation possibility: the increased ubiquity of pot, of ever-increasing potency, may, at least in part, have had something to with another advancement your post mentioned: the improvement in food!

Anonymous said...

There's probably lots of wild stuff you could do nowadays with dog breeding with increasing genetic technology. But would you be allowed to by law and social convention? You'd be churning out lots of newfangled dogs to try to hit some new breed you like. What are you going to with all those dogs? Normal puppy mills already produce excess established breeds that have trouble finding homes.

Anonymous said...

Dog breeds have surely been compromised (if not quite ruined) in terms of vigor and some kinds of behavior by aesthetics: the quest to get dogs to conform to breed standards for appearance hasn't been a great idea, at least in my book.

I'm no expert, but my wife and I did own a German Shepherd in the past. Beautiful dog; wonderful temperament (marvelously loyal to 'his' people; indifferent but not aggressive to anyone else); a truly magnificent animal in his first bloom of youth.

But then: eating troubles (a ridiculously sensitive stomach); numerous severe, life-threatening health problems; ultimately had to have him put down at 10 years old because of advancing arthritis caused by hip dysplasia, which is the curse of the breed, exacerbated by the downward-sloping back profile demanded by the breed standard.

If you look back at photos of the original German Shepherd Dogs back in the 19th century, they're certainly not as beautiful, but I'm sure they were much more robust and healthy dogs.

Anonymous said...

"Ray Sawhill likes to point out how much better food has gotten in his lifetime, and that strikes me as close to indisputable. The board at Rice U. in the 1970s was awful by contemporary standards."


elite effete (?) european liberal alexander cockburn pointed out something that seems true to me:

"Let's remember triumphs as well as defeats. I like to remind the younger crowd of some of the less-trumpeted legacies of the Sixties. Better food. Better bread. The visionary radical hippies had a lot to do with that, touting organic food and the grains that now find their way into the health pages of the Sunday papers.

Good coffee was promoted by radicals like my friends and neighbors, the Paffs, who began by roasting beans on their kitchen stove for friends and neighbors and because the local town sold only Folgers. They now run Humboldt's very successful Goldrush Coffee (call 707-629-3460 for mail orders. Right now, Joe says the Dark Sumatra is terrific.)

Beer, too. The back lot brewers who began Sierra Nevada beer in Chico, Calif., who ultimately beat back Budweiser's efforts to destroy them and thus sealed the victory of the microbrews, came out of the Sixties' alternative culture.

Bread, coffee and beer. It's up there with the old revolutionary slogan of Peace, Land and Bread."



say what you want about hipsters--and they can be annoying--but the creative food trucks and intense microbrews and good live music really are nice...

Anonymous said...

"Well, think of all the things in life that actually have changed for the better. The food’s got better. Absolutely beyond question, the food’s got better in America. The coffee is better. Bread is better. I’ll bet you could go out from where you’re sitting in Sacramento right now, I’ll bet you could walk 500 yards and probably be able to find a decent loaf of bread. You could, couldn’t you? Now, if I said that to you 20 years ago, you would probably have had to taken an airplane and flown all the way to France.
Now, why did this happen? It’s because hippies in the ’60s decided they wanted to have whole-grain bread and be healthy, and then they also wanted to have properly roasted coffee. And so, they gradually got organic-food stores that actually were quite good, and the bread got better, and there were farmers’ markets. Now, all this happened in the teeth of political onslaughts by both parties who were, of course, in the pay of the food industry.

In Eureka, Calif., the other day, I went into Pierson’s, which is the local lumber place where you buy stuff if you’re redoing your house and all the rest of it. I looked at their coffee thing. They were selling coffee from nine beans from nine different countries. Nine! This is not some hippie hangout. This is where mighty men with measuring tapes in their waist belts and huge hammers hanging from their trousers—that’s where they go. And you could have nine different kinds of coffee. Now that’s progress."

Portlander said...

I've noticed it. I think it's all part of the general dumbing down. I think when everyone was on the farm it would have been impossible to diminish the relevance of genes and good families.

Now that we are all two generations removed from any kind of first-hand animal husbandry, it's a lot easier to be taken seriously that:

1) Pit Bulls are fine family dogs -- it's just their owners are to blame

2) Generationally illiterate illegal aliens will do great in the USA -- they just need to get a college degree (at in-state tuition rates, thank you)

3) Marry whomever bad-boy you like in the far away coastal metro you moved to after college, and which your parents have never been to, and so of course, there's no way for them to vet the fellow or his family because what can you learn about a person from knowing the parents.

Ray Sawhill said...

Thanks for the mention. The way that people these days (people who have the brains, taste, and means, that is) can eat is perfectly amazing, isn't it? In the course of just today my wife served up a frittata, a roasted tomato soup, an orzo salad with spinach and lemon, and tilapia with an inspired pesto on it. All of the ingredients were bought, at very good prices, at the local Trader Joe's. (Plus: she's tall, blonde, smart, talented and good looking. Suck on that, Game crowd.) That's bargain eating done right.

On the other hand, the crap that the Idiocracy crowd lives on is beyond revolting. Eating well isn't just a matter of taste but of self-respect -- ie., of how you treat yourself -- no?

As for dogs, some of y'all might enjoy the great blogger Terrierman. Where politics goes he's not going to please many of you, but where dogs go he's smart, informative, and super tough-minded.

Anonymous said...

"If you look back at photos of the original German Shepherd Dogs back in the 19th century, they're certainly not as beautiful, but I'm sure they were much more robust and healthy dogs."

If you get a GSD from working dog lines (e.g. Schutzhund titled parents etc.) from over in Europe, or from European bred dogs in the states, it will be much more like the original GSD.

Also re: pit bulls, check out this pdf. 20 years of data.

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf

Pib bulls and rottweilers responsible for most fatalities, by far. Some other surprising dogs also up there, such as the husky types and malamutes.

Fenris said...

You could say we have continued to "improve dogs" If you find the inability of English bulldogs to give natural birth an improvement. We have improved the German shepherd by adding roached backs, cow hocks and weak pasterns to the point most police departments are giving up one what was once the most stable, versatile and athletic of working dogs because even the working lines are genetic defect ridden unathletic and unstable.

We have improved the Neapoliton mastiff by increasing its skinfolds to the point that it is almost certain to get skin cancer it can barely see, and it unlikely to live past 6.

Actually almost all the popular giant breeds now live 5-7 years while aboriginal flock guardian dogs in central asia of the same size live 15. Small breeds aren't exempt either we have shortened the legs of all the dwarf legged breed to the point were elbow dysplasia is almost a breed characteristic and short faced dogs like Pugs, and boston terriers are getting so short faced their eyes can pop out if they sneeze.

Few things have been destroyed more effectively by modern life then our dogs.

On the subject of pit bulls its one of the great ironies to me of modern life that one of the most universally accepted stereotype(that pit bulls are vicious) is wrong while all the rejected stereotypes of the past are generally true.

That said the pit bull is being destroyed to gang bangers are breeding them for human aggression, the majority of pits that show up in pounds still have exceptionally stable temperaments but that doesn't mean there aren't bad dogs out there intentionally being breed to be dangerous.

Then their are the idiots e turning the pit bull into another english bull dog http://conetodecomonfort.olx.com.mx/american-bully-mega-masivos-iid-145065825 with all the associated health problems.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the conscious (or subconcious) trend amongst dog breeders is to exaggerrate physical traits to he point of comedy.
Hence the present day 'show' bulldog is born with a head so big that it has to be birthed by caesarian section, during its lifetime it is plagued by breathing problems due to the short nose,and muck gahers in the pendulous jowls. Dachshunds, similarly, are exaggerrated to the point of comedy (their short legs are actually the human equivalent of conegenital dwarfism) - compare a picture of a dachshund from 1950 , say, to a modern dachshund and you'll see the difference.
Another problem with breeders' obsession with cartoonish looking dogs is the prominence of recessive genetic defects of all kinds caused by the prevalence of in-breeding (mother mated with son is pretty much normal with 'pedigree breeders'). If you buy a pedigree dachsund you'll likely to buy a dog that lives for 5 years or so and suffers terribly from all sorts congenital ailments.

Steve Sailer said...

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf

You can see in this CDC table how Rottweilers weren't very dangerous in the 1980s and then became dangerous in the 1990s. I read somewhere that Doberman's had been turned into very scary dogs during WWII, then Doberman breeders bred them to be less dangerous, so people who like scary dogs bred Rottweilers to be scary.

Anonymous said...

"You can see in this CDC table how Rottweilers weren't very dangerous in the 1980s and then became dangerous in the 1990s. I read somewhere that Doberman's had been turned into very scary dogs during WWII, then Doberman breeders bred them to be less dangerous, so people who like scary dogs bred Rottweilers to be scary."

They made no attempt to normalize by breed popularity in that pdf. So the rise in fatalities is often due to the rise of breed popularity. You need to do some background research as to popularity of breeds over time to really make sense of it in terms of which is a dangerous breed, unfortunately. Perhaps someone can combine AKC registrations and that data.

When the time period covered by that study began, the Doberman was probably the second most popular dog. Then it dropped off. The Rottweiler peaked in popularity in the mid 1990s, where it became the most registered breed in the US. This is reflected in those figures.

I didn't think that pit bulls have become anywhere near the most popular, yet they have the most fatalities. That doesn't mean they are good at guarding or protection work either, I've never seen them recommended for that purpose.

Anonymous said...

"I read somewhere that Doberman's had been turned into very scary dogs during WWII, then Doberman breeders bred them to be less dangerous."

http://www.doberman.ws/ww2.php

Apparently people volunteered their own dogs for the USMC recruiting drive, where they were trained for service. So there was minimal breeding for combat purposes during this time, as it only started in 1943 and ended in 1945.

I have heard that the Doberman has been bred more to be a pet over recent years, much like what has happened to the GSD. How the dog is depends on lineage. You can find working lines for any working breed.

Anonymous said...

Not every stereotype about pit bulls is true, but every stereotype about their owners is.

Anonymous said...

If you get a pit from "catch dog" hog hunting lines it's almost certain to be safe/reliable since those dogs have to work in close contact with the trailing hounds and the human hunters.

fnn said...

As for dogs, some of y'all might enjoy the great blogger Terrierman.

Other blogs that cover the same topics that aren't run by someone obviously deranged:

http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.com/

http://retrieverman.net/2010/10/08/intellectual-honesty-on-the-effects-of-trials-and-shows/

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment on labs:

http://retrieverman.net/2010/10/08/intellectual-honesty-on-the-effects-of-trials-and-shows/#comment-16255

“blckgldn-n-labmix did you say that 35-40% of all labs have or carry Exercised Induced Collapse?”

That is the current estimate. It is based on genetic testing at the University of Minnesota. Google “Katie Minor.” Estimates may be skewed a little high because people who suspect it to be present might be testing more than those who are not–but the opposite phenomenon (denial/not testing) may be at work as well.

“That’s a lot of labs. If the field bred lab puppies are usually genetically free of this, then any athletic event would be a sort of test to weed out affecteds.”

Field bred and show bred Labs seem to be have about the same percentage of carriers genetically. It is a simple recessive. It appears to be a very old mutation. It has now been found in other retrievers, and in Boykins. Not all genetic affecteds are symptomatic. Researchers are currently trying to figure out why.

(...)

Anonymous said...

First they came for the pit bulls, but I did not speak out because I was not a gangbanger...

Anononymous said...

They should breed a dog that can talk.

Mishka says 12 words - Dog Talking

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Audacious Epigone uses Google Trends to tabulate searches for "pitbulls" v. "labradors" by state.

Obviously someone has too much time on his hands. LOL

It's funny, though, I was just thinking about this yesterday. I must have seen at least half-a-dozen Labs out and about in Newport Beach yesterday with their yuppie families, walking along the sidewalk, or hanging out of Range Rovers and old Mercedes station wagons. Chocolate seems to be the most popular Lab flavour around here.

Based on my observations, Asians, Persians, and young blonde princesses appear to prefer small, fluffy toy dogs.

RE: Beer, Coffee, and Bread. Is there any food combo more responsible for the 'softness' (in more ways than one) of White Americans?! The hippies have a lot to answer for.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Steve - I have called this before. My impression of the AKC is it has become dominated by women and homosexuals, who breed for the aesthetics of the show ring. Pit bulls are on an entirely different track of course.

Cail Corishev said...

As Fenris touched on, the big thing in modern dog breeding is breeding for specific extreme traits, which means repeated inbreeding and genetic weakness.

In commercial livestock, even where breed lines tend to be kept pure, as in dairy, farmers don't keep breeding back to the same bull over and over. They mix in different bulls after each other to gain each one's genetic benefits. One bull one year because his offspring have had high milk volume, then another bull the next year because his daughters have had high birth success rates, and so on. There's no fixation on one specific factor, especially an aesthetic one.

My dog is a mutt, given to me for free by a farmer who had extra pups. Everyone who meets her raves about how smart and friendly and young-looking (she's 13) she is, and asks what kind she is. When I say she's a mix, almost everyone says something like, "Yeah, those are the best; they don't have all the health problems of purebreds." And yet dogs like her are put down every day, while people go to breeders and spend hundreds of dollars for a dog that's got the doggy equivalent of Down's Syndrome or something because its skull has been bred to be too small for its brain. Makes no sense.

FWG said...

I'm partial to Golden Retrievers. You can certainly draw fairly accurate conclusions about people based on the dogs they favor, in my estimation.

Chip said...

No comment on modern breeding, but I would like to opine that the SWPL-ization of bully-breed ownership should be embraced as a positive development. It is a cliche to note that the temperamental problems associated with Pit bull type breeds are largely the result of irresponsible and psychopathic owners, and to the large extent that this is true, the best remedy is to lessen the public notoriety of such breeds. The animal welfare movement has been good in this regard, and I hope the trend continues until the thugs lose interest.

elvisd said...

I have heard that the Doberman has been bred more to be a pet over recent years, much like what has happened to the GSD. How the dog is depends on lineage. You can find working lines for any working breed.

I've run into a couple of dobermans that have a slightly bigger head that are much more agreeable/less nervy. On both occasions, their owners referred to their breeding as a "Florida" lineage.

The dog I've been running into the most lately is pretty specific: the Plott. It's the main hunting dog of the southern Appalachians. When I'm somewhere on the TN/NC line during bear season, they're all over the place.

Anonymous said...

Michael Pollan wrote about marijuana breeding (and breeding of the apple, the tulip, and the potato) in his book The Botany of Desire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_botany_of_desire

-meh

Anonymous said...

If you look back at photos of the original German Shepherd Dogs back in the 19th century, they're certainly not as beautiful, but I'm sure they were much more robust and healthy dogs.


Yeah, this is why I'm so skeptical of the "techno-libertarians" who want us to genetically engineer people. The fact is that we're not very good at this sort of thing. By "not very good" I don't mean that we cannot get what we desire, but that that which we desire tends to be stupid and destructive in the long term.

Anonymous said...

You could say we have continued to "improve dogs" If you find the inability of English bulldogs to give natural birth an improvement. We have improved the German shepherd by adding roached backs, cow hocks and weak pasterns to the point most police departments are giving up one what was once the most stable, versatile and athletic of working dogs because even the working lines are genetic defect ridden unathletic and unstable.


We have improved the Neapoliton mastiff by increasing its skinfolds to the point that it is almost certain to get skin cancer it can barely see, and it unlikely to live past 6


Now imagine that the same mentality which caused these defects in dogs is set loose on human breeding and genetics. We'd quickly modify ourselves into oblivion.

Anonymous said...

she's tall, blonde, smart, talented and good looking


Four out of five ain't bad!

The attraction which certain guys feel for tall women mystifies me.

Anonymous said...

I do think its notable that the sort of people who tend to own "pure breed" dogs - of whatever breed - tend to be the same sort of people who shudder in horror at the thought of human bio-diversity. They understand the concepts of genetics and breeding perfectly in the one instance, and not at all in the other.

A working definition of a liberal might be "One who regards cognitive dissonance as a virtue".

mel belli said...

A clarification on bread:

I, a native San Franciscan, hereby inform ye that french bread is not as good now as it was in the '60's and '70's. The large corporate brands Larrabaru and Parisian (which I suppose went defunct over labor costs) made fantastic bread that had better flavor and was simultaneously crunchier and chewier than the french bread sold now. It's just that you folks living elsewhere now have micro- bakeries making a reasonable facsimile that didn't exist before. To really do it right, you still need the SF fog.

Anonymous said...

Dog breeds have surely been compromised (if not quite ruined) in terms of vigor and some kinds of behavior by aesthetics: the quest to get dogs to conform to breed standards for appearance hasn't been a great idea, at least in my book.

Why do you think I prefer mutts to purebreds?

Mercer said...

I don't know whether dogs have improved without knowing what you want in dogs. I think life has gotten worse from the dogs perspective. They are frequently left alone all day without canine or human company and are not allowed to roam around. This is very different from how they have lived for thousands of years.

I used to have a lab and think they are only a good breed for very active families because they have so much energy to burn. The book or movie Marley & Me should be viewed by people considering a lab. Most people don't spend much time outside these days so I don't thinks labs are the best choice for most people. I now have hound mixes which are more laid back and easier to live with.

I am currently reading Temple Grandin's Animals Make Us Human which is on sale in the kindle store this month. She claims pit bulls were originally bred to be aggressive only to other dogs but many people are now breeding them to be aggressive to people.

Otis McWrong said...

Anonymous said: "Let's remember triumphs as well as defeats. I like to remind the younger crowd of some of the less-trumpeted legacies of the Sixties. Better food. Better bread. The visionary radical hippies had a lot to do with that, touting organic food and the grains that now find their way into the health pages of the Sunday papers.”

The deregulation of the trucking and rail industries had far more to do with it. Prior to the mid-70’s it wasn’t economically feasible to offer say, fresh lettuce, in Chicago during the winter. Hence all the iceberg lettuce that could be frozen and last forever. Frozen peas, canned this, cooked that.

Another or maybe the same anonymous said “And so, they gradually got organic-food stores that actually were quite good, and the bread got better, and there were farmers’ markets. Now, all this happened in the teeth of political onslaughts by both parties who were, of course, in the pay of the food industry.”

Citation needed. I’m of an age to clearly remember these developments and don’t recall any “political onslaughts”. Also please give some specifics of people being “in the pay of the food industry”. I’m assuming you know there isn’t a “food industry” but rather dozens upon dozens of fairly distinct sub-industries that can rather broadly be called “food”. Or are you implying the baking business is in cahoots with asparagus growers? Alternately if you weren’t making the points, but merely copying-and-pasting Alexander Cockburn, next time just provide his link so I can skip over it sooner.

pat said...

Actually there has been recently the creation of a whole new dog from scratch. Not really but almost.

The Russians conducted a decades long experiment to see if they could create a docile Silver Fox. The really fascinating and unexpected consequence of this study was that these domesticated "puppy dog" like foxes also turned lighter. Their coats became piebald.

This experiment has led to the melanocortin theory of aggressiveness. It is hypothesized that darker animals (and people) are more aggressive. This is thought to be a pleiotropic result of the bio-synthetic production of melanin.

See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoB0pdhxfZs

The tame foxes are cute with their dappled coats and blue eyes.

Rushton was working on melanocortin theory when he died. Apparently the effect crosses many animal kingdoms. Darker birds and lizards are also more aggressive.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"As Fenris touched on, the big thing in modern dog breeding is breeding for specific extreme traits, which means repeated inbreeding and genetic weakness."

"Extreme traits" and inbreeding are separate problems in that a breed can look normal but still have a lot of problems due to inbreeding. The Retrieverman blog has a lot of info on this.

Anthony said...

There's no such thing as a "pit bull". There are bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and other dogs that look like them. Anytime someone gets attacked by a large dog of non-obcvious breed, it's a "pit bull".

Bull terriers have been bred for dog aggression by dog-fighters. But dog-fighters don't normally tolerate their dogs turning on them, so the human aggression has mostly been bred out of them (to the extent you can breed for aggression against specific targets). It's probably not that hard to redirect that aggression through abusive training, as happens in our more vibrant communities.

Something I've noticed anecdotally is that pit-mixes that are raised in decent environments seem to favor the "pit bull" parent physically, but the other parent temperamentally.

Anonymous said...

When thinking about Pit Bulls and similar dogs, it's not sufficient to look at aggression alone. Pit Bulls bite differently than other dogs.

Other dogs are nippers and rippers, but Pit Bulls are grippers; they bite down and hang on to their victim's flesh.

Pit Bull owners have to use special "break sticks" to pry the dog's jaws off a victim. Without such a tool it can be very difficult to get them off of a victim.

This makes them much more likely to inflict serious maulings or fatalities. When a normal dog attacks it will bite, do some damage and let go. It might come back for another bite or it might not, but this break in contact makes it relatively easy for the victim to use a door to separate herself from the dog or for bystanders to drive the dog off.

When a pitbull grabs on to your child there isn't much you can do to get it off, unless you have a break stick or a deadly weapon. Trying to pull it off won't work and it will damage the victim. There are some nasty videos online where a pitbull has latched onto a victim and will not let go, despite bystanders hitting it with clubs, etc.

Pit Bulls really ought to become an evolutionary dead end.

Dunnyveg said...

Regarding selective breeding of dogs, I recently got a border collie puppy. When I went to pick the her up, I thought she was one of the ugliest full-breds I'd ever seen. She's also one of the smartest dogs I've ever seen. She knew everything she needs to know as a dog before she was three months old.

It turns out that breeders have to select characteristics they wish to emphasize. And in the case of border collies these traits are intelligence and physical stamina--and not appearance.

Though I'm anything but a geneticist, I'm guessing that any trait emphasized will come at the expense of other traits.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is why I'm so skeptical of the "techno-libertarians" who want us to genetically engineer people. The fact is that we're not very good at this sort of thing. By "not very good" I don't mean that we cannot get what we desire, but that that which we desire tends to be stupid and destructive in the long term.

And the status quo is better?

Have you actually had to live with bad* genes yourself, or know anyone who does? The irony is that people who are lucky enough to have good* genes through millennia of old-fashioned natural selection are usually the ones complaining the most about "unnatural" genetic manipulation. As for "not very good at this thing", how do you think we'll get any better except through practice? Genetic manipulation is just like any other technical and medical art. In the Middle Ages we were not very good at infection control, but we got much better.

* - In the context of modern industrialized society, of course, some time-honoured genes can be handicaps. Non-resistance to alcohol, slow metabolism, autism, ADHD, even shortness. If the technology exists, or can exist, to give people a choice, then why not use it. I am perfectly aware that people will abuse it and cause all sorts of unintended consequences.

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as a "pit bull". There are bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and other dogs that look like them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Pit_Bull_Terrier

http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/Breeds/AmericanPitBullTerrier12012012

Anonymous said...

You can see in this CDC table how Rottweilers weren't very dangerous in the 1980s and then became dangerous in the 1990s. I read somewhere that Doberman's had been turned into very scary dogs during WWII, then Doberman breeders bred them to be less dangerous, so people who like scary dogs bred Rottweilers to be scary.

During WWII Marines used fighting dogs to get into Jap bunkers and clear them out. At the end of the war they were all put down, no one wanted to risk them coming home.

Anonymous said...

Have you actually had to live with bad* genes yourself, or know anyone who does? The irony is that people who are lucky enough to have good* genes through millennia of old-fashioned natural selection are usually the ones complaining the most about "unnatural" genetic manipulation.



Maybe that's because, having the genes for intelligence, they're smart enough to see what a stupid idea "genetic manipulation" is.

The Law of Unintended Consequences has been biting liberals in the ass for centuries now, but you're too stupid to ever notice it.

Anonymous said...

In the context of modern industrialized society, of course, some time-honoured genes can be handicaps. Non-resistance to alcohol, slow metabolism, autism, ADHD, even shortness.



Oh? In the context of modern industrialized society, shortness is a handicap? I'd expect that a "modern industrialized society" would be able to master such technology as step-stools and ladders.

Svigor said...

You got it. The usual suspects are and have been applying dysgenic pressures to the APBT.

Anonymous said...

This experiment has led to the melanocortin theory of aggressiveness. It is hypothesized that darker animals (and people) are more aggressive. This is thought to be a pleiotropic result of the bio-synthetic production of melanin



I guess that explains why the Vikings sat at home in their huts while the blacks and dot Indians set out to conquer the world.

Poor impulse control is not actually the same thing as aggression.

Svigor said...

I didn't think that pit bulls have become anywhere near the most popular, yet they have the most fatalities. That doesn't mean they are good at guarding or protection work either, I've never seen them recommended for that purpose.

They aren't. That's because their breeding history was for aggression against dogs, and non-aggression against humans. If you get a well-bred APBT, they're all too happy to let strange humans slide. Just watch him around other dogs, because he will get into fights. A good guard dog is smarter and much more human-aggressive than an APBT, has better senses of smell and hearing. I think the best place to start looking for a guard dog is the same place cops go for working dogs (the Malinois).

Svigor said...

To the guy warning about APBT bite style, I'd suggest he worry more about Doberman-type biters. An APBT that locks down on you just gets one bite at the apple, while slashers like Dobermans are built to rend flesh off your bones quickly, then let go and do it again, and again, etc.

P.S., people who reflexively scoff at the idea of the APBT as a great family pet are being unintentionally ironic. My sister and I torture-tested our APBT growing up and the thing simply would not bite us. Of course, we trained it well, so there's that.

Anonymous said...

"During WWII Marines used fighting dogs to get into Jap bunkers and clear them out. At the end of the war they were all put down, no one wanted to risk them coming home."

[Citation needed]

They were used for a good deal more than that, and they weren't all put down. The most interesting thing to me was their use in sentry duty. There was not one successful ambush that escaped detection by the Doberman.

"In August 1945, the Marines began to close the War Dog Training School and to disband the War Dog Platoons. Some of the Dobes, after retraining, were sent home to their original owners, some went home with Marine handlers and a number of them were destroyed because no one wanted them. The Devildogs became history and for the most part forgotten history."

http://www.doberman.ws/ww2.php

Anonymous said...

Svigor wrote:

"I think the best place to start looking for a guard dog is the same place cops go for working dogs (the Malinois)."

I've done a lot of googling on the subject. As a family protection/guard dog, from what I've read the Malinois is probably too energetic to suit most family lifestyles. They are also a bit small. But as you say, breeds that have been used in police work top the list - the GSD, Doberman and Rottweiller. Bullmastiff is also up there. I've read good things about some of the other mastiff types, such as the South African Boerboel and Fila Brazileiro.

Probably any of those breeds would work, it comes down to what suits you. Shedding, drool, looks, speed, brains, likely threat profile, legal issues (including likelihood of biting owner or children, I'd avoid Rotts for this reason), maintenance and exercise requirements, health issues, etc.

To Steve's original post, it would not necessarily be obvious if dogs are getting better. I know that the sport of Schutzhund ("protection dog") has been increasing in popularity, and people breed dogs for that. A bit like martial arts though, once any combat activity is turned into a sport people start training for the rules of the sport rather than for what the sport was originally designed to do. e.g. the fancy BJJ guard work that has evolved in sport BJJ due to the lack of a need to expect a punch to the face in sport competition.

Surely someone wealthy is out there applying modern database and DNA techniques to dog breeding, or making their own breed of dog much like Dobermann or Von Stephanitz did back in the day. But it takes time for other people to recognize a good thing, along with time to breed enough generations of dogs.

Anonymous said...

Surprising no one has mentioned this. The 19th century was a simpler time. Today's equivalent to a 19th century dog breeder is a geneticist with a PhD. This extrapolation can be applied to other fields as well. Today's equivalent to a 19th century train engineer is working for NASA, etc. etc.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

P.S., people who reflexively scoff at the idea of the APBT as a great family pet are being unintentionally ironic. My sister and I torture-tested our APBT growing up and the thing simply would not bite us. Of course, we trained it well, so there's that.

There is breeding basis for this as well. Fighting bull breed dogs, in their original form, tend to have great aversion to biting humans.

They got handled/broken up in the ring and ones that lashed out and bit their handlers, even by mistake, didn't last long.

Same goes for biting the people who may be tending their wounds and causing additional pain, something that most dogs in general are prone to.

These tendencies were repressed in the breed when it was actually used for fighting, which still goes on illegally and wasn't illegal all that long ago.

In Georgia, I know it was only formally outlawed in the early 80's after a big media campaign. Prior to that, it had been only sporadically suppressed under cruelty to animal statute, which was not always successful in prosecution.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

* - In the context of modern industrialized society, of course, some time-honoured genes can be handicaps. Non-resistance to alcohol, slow metabolism, autism, ADHD, even shortness.

Don't forget low desire to have kids. The widespread availability of effective birth control is allowing people to act on this propensity much more successfully than even a 1/2 century ago.

It will be having an effect, all environmental pressures do, if Darwin is right...

Anonymous said...

There is breeding basis for this as well. Fighting bull breed dogs, in their original form, tend to have great aversion to biting humans.

They got handled/broken up in the ring and ones that lashed out and bit their handlers, even by mistake, didn't last long.



Not always apparently:

http://www.workingpitbull.com/dogfighting2.htm

While dog fighters will scream bloody murder about dogs trained for ring or schutzhund, and claim they don't tolerate "manbiters", Chinaman, pictured above, is just one of many modern "gamedogs" which are man biters and are still used extensively at stud. Poor judgement in breeding continues to hurt our breed.

"After a short stay, Dr. Wood shipped Chinaman to Vince and Bob in California to make up for an earlier prospect he had sold them that failed to live up to expectations. He arrived full of hookworms and roundworms and weighed only 42 lbs., 4 lbs. below his eventual best match weight of 46 lbs. Bob kept him on a long cable run and tried to help him overcome his emaciated state. Chinaman thanked him by biting him, so Bob shipped him to Vince. It was love at first sight. Vince wormed Chinaman and scheduled a roll for him.

After a 3-hour drive Chinaman was nauseated and dehydrated. He was pitted 10 lbs. uphill against a powerful red dog named Ch. Ceasar who proceeded to mop the floor with him. When the big dog tired, Chinaman went to the stifles and punched very hard. Even though he was still nauseated and underweight he came up from the bottom to bite down and stop Ceasar at: 28. Chinaman's next roll was into Doc, a highly respected wrecker. If he could hang with Doc for even 10 minutes, Chinaman would be worth a bet. Doc came out hard and slammed Chinaman into the corner and tried to trade with Chinaman. Big mistake! Chinaman hit the gut and killed the Doctor in his own living room in 17 minutes! It was clear Chinaman was something special."
* Courtesty of KeepemScratchin Kennels

"Buck, a Hell Raiser [Wild Side Kennels] pit bull that was jumping madly toward us, would have sailed 20 feet in the air if a short chain didn't choke him to a sudden halt. One of the hangers-on at the kennel teases Buck, nervously calling, "chicken shit," and jumps within a few inches of the seething dog. Buck launches his body toward the heckler like a salivating cannon ball. The man jumps back, his face tense with fear".
* Courtesy of Suzette Thibeault



Anonymous said...

There is breeding basis for this as well. Fighting bull breed dogs, in their original form, tend to have great aversion to biting humans.

They got handled/broken up in the ring and ones that lashed out and bit their handlers, even by mistake, didn't last long.


Not true, those old country boy "dogmen" could concoct elaborate legends even better than YKW:

http://thetruthaboutpitbulls.blogspot.com/2012/01/culling-manbiters-and-desecrating-truth.html

"Back In The Ole Bulldog Days These Manbiters Were Eliminated Immediately."
I hear this over and over again, so let me just ask who, specifically, ever culled a game "man-biter" back in "The Ole Bulldog Days?"
Earl T never minded feeding man-biters, even though his wife's legs were covered with bite scars. Some of Tant's dogs would just as soon eat you as look at you. I understand Burns' dogs were even worse.
I'd like to see someone step foot on V Jackson's yard if he wasn't around.
Carver kept his share of "man-biters," as did many many other famed dogmen.
In most cases, if a dog was good enough to win, it was good enough to live, regardless of who it wanted to have for dinner.
ROCKY ALEXANDER, APBT historian and former APBT breeder

(...)
In contrast, the man-biters were culled and the pit bulls were not bred for human aggression myths were created from thin air, complete fabrications. There is not a sliver of truth in the myth that dogmen culled man-biters. Not only weren't human aggressive pit fighters NOT culled, but a talented man-biter was heavily bred, his stud services were in high demand and the stud fees commanded a premium. The progeny of man-biters are still sought out long after he or she has passed away. This Italian game-dog website lists their choice for the Best Ever fighting dogs, three of the five are known man-biters and the other two trace their origins to the others on their "Best" list. Some famous man-biters have their own facebook fan pages. If you happen to be a 10x winner with 3 kills and scratching on the carcass, people tend to overlook a little thing like the danger she poses to people and she is also likely to be nominated for the cover of this month's International Sporting Dog Journal. Some famous man-biters not only have a facebook fan page, they have their own promotional merchandise too.
(...)

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if they still allow dog fight in European Georgia? Larison is always looking for a good excuse for Putin to send in the tanks. Maybe that or that Pussy Riot is hiding out in Tiblisi.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Ok, I stand corrected on the culling of man-biters myth.

This blog has the most informative comment threads ever.

Anonymous said...

Have you actually had to live with bad* genes yourself, or know anyone who does? The irony is that people who are lucky enough to have good* genes through millennia of old-fashioned natural selection are usually the ones complaining the most about "unnatural" genetic manipulation.

Maybe that's because, having the genes for intelligence, they're smart enough to see what a stupid idea "genetic manipulation" is.

In other words, "intelligent" people making the same old tired argument that people deserve having bad blood, or that they are actually lazy or otherwise morally flawed. I already heard it from Bush II. If disease exists, treat it, and if it's untreatable, research new options.

The Law of Unintended Consequences has been biting liberals in the ass for centuries now, but you're too stupid to ever notice it

Same old conservative rant. It makes as much sense as saying that bandaging and stitching victims of gunshot wounds is also bad.

Anonymous said...

In other words, "intelligent" people making the same old tired argument that people deserve having bad blood, or that they are actually lazy or otherwise morally flawed. I already heard it from Bush II



Really? You heard Bush II going on about people having "bad blood, being "lazy" and "morally flawed"?

Do you have long conversations with six foot tall pink rabbits as well?