My friend from Will My Dog Hate Me? blog brought up this topic for her latest Friday Focus series, and that's what inspired this post.
Breed specific legislation... First, let's start by calling it what it is: breed specific bans—unless you came across a piece of legislation providing some breed specific privileges. If you did, please do let me know!
Such legislation clearly suggests that there is such a thing as a bad breed. How correct is such thinking?
It is true that incidents with dogs of certain breeds are more likely to make the news than others. One of the main reasons for that is that large dogs can simply cause more damage when things do go wrong. You don't see many headlines on Schnauzer or Jack Russell Terrier attacks. Is it because they are so meek and docile? Not the ones I know... but ripped pants are hardly breaking news. Though I did come across a story of a Chihuahua attack: Pack of Angry Chihuahuas Attack Officer. But that's just embarrassing.
So yes, size does matter when it comes to incidents involving dogs. Should we ban all breeds physically capable of doing any substantial damage then? Or just those of certain color …?
We've been sharing our lives with Rottweilers for about 20 years now and we couldn't ask for sweeter, more loving dogs. They are clearly not living up to their bad reputation, possibly because nobody told them they should...
Is there such a thing as a bad breed?
I think that this is the wrong question to start out with. Are some breeds more vulnerable to bad breeding? Yes. Are some breeds more likely to end up in the wrong hands? Yes. But what does that tell you? It is not the breed that is the problem, but the breeders and the type of people who are likely to choose such a breed for the wrong reasons.
Quite often poor choices can precede a bad reputation. It seems that every time a movie comes out, with an adorable canine hero, it creates a high demand for that particular breed. Everybody wants it, so everybody breeds it, and good breeding practices go out the window. Result? Increase in the number of dogs with negative character traits within the breed.
That, combined with improper upbringing, results in a breed getting a bad reputation and rightfully so. But who is to blame? Do you see the level of human involvement?
Poor breeding practices: does that mean character traits are genetic?
Yes, indeed they are. Dogs have been bred for particular traits all along. Hunting dogs, herding dogs... these all become part of their genes. Are aggression or tameness also part of the genetic make-up? According to a scientific experiment with Siberian foxes they are. Among other amazing discoveries, this experiment shows the dramatic difference breeding choices will make. And here we are, back to the human element.
Is it possible that eventually an entire breed could become damaged goods? Possibly, but I really don't believe so. There will always be people who will breed those dogs out of true love for the breed, will do so responsibly, and thus preserve healthy bloodlines.
Legislate against specific breeds or not?
Well, it's the easy solution to the problem, isn't it? It is much easier to enforce a breed specific ban than to enforce responsible breeding and ownership. It is easier to pass a breed specific ban than to evaluate individual dogs or bloodlines. Is this what it boils down to? What is easier?
Here is the important question. Is that going to solve the problem? I believe not. Removing certain breed from the face of the Earth will not remove what is at the root of the problem, which is the human element. With all Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Shepherds and Boxers gone, will this be the end of dangerous breeds? No, it will not.
All that will happen is that another breeds will fall victim of the human tendencies that brought around the problem in the first place. So then we'll have to ban all Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers … whatever breeds would be next, until no breed larger than a Jack Russell Terrier is left.
Even if we wiped out all dogs, it would still not solve the problem. Why? Because the dogs are not the problem. We are! And as resourceful as we are, I'm sure another species would take their place….
I believe is that the only way to solve the bad breed problem is the solve the human problem that is behind it. There truly is no other way in my mind.
Friday Focus: Breed Specific Legislation
The Silver Fox experiment
Why Do We Choose The Breeds We Do?
What is your opinion? Leave a comment.