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Breeds and Behavior - Bradley Reprint From Bark NEW[1]

Breeds and Behavior - Bradley Reprint From Bark NEW[1]

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Published by Shoshannah Forbes

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Published by: Shoshannah Forbes on Nov 05, 2011
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11/05/2011

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1
www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com
ByJanisBradleyReprintedfromTheBark,No.64(April/May2011)
I’minterviewinganewclientwhosedogtendstobarkandchargeandniptheheelsanddanglinghandsofretreating
strangers.Herdogissmallishandstocky,withacoarsemedium-lengthcoatofmottledblue-gray,black,whiteandbrown.Hisnoseandearsarepointy.WhileIreassureherthathisbehavioractuallymakessensefromhisdoggypointofview,a
littlevoiceinmyheadwhispers,“
Whatdidsheexpect?ShegotaCattleD
og.”Ihavelittledifficultydiscountingtheclient’sownplaintiveclaimthatshe’shadCattleDogsallherlifeandthisisthefirstonewho’sactedthisway.“Youwereluckyuntilnow,”mylittlevoicesays,assumingthosedogsweresomehowtheexceptions.Butwhenanotherclientcomplains
thathislarge,square-headed,short-
coated,yellowdogisgrowlyaroundhisfoodbowl,Itakehisstatementthat“noneofmyotherLabshavedonethis,”atfacevalue.Thecurrentdogisclearlytheexception.Afterall,mylittlevoicesays,“everyoneknowsLabs
lovepeople.”
 _________________________________________________
ThesourcematerialforthisarticleisapaperbyJanisBradley,publishedbytheNationalCanineResearchCouncil,entitled
“TheRelevanceofBree
din
SelectingaCompanionDog.”
 
“[E]ven reliable
identification of theancestry of amixed-breed dog
by itself wouldn’t
help us predict anincreasedlikelihood ofknown, geneticallydriven traits.
My little voice is probably wrong.
Often,weassumethateachbreedcarriesitsownsetofhard-wiredimpulses,whichareparticularlydifficulttoalter,evenwithsoundbehavior-modificationtechniques.Weevenexpectthesepresumedgeneticpredispositionstocarryovertomixed-breeddogswhophysicallyresembleaparticularbreed.Dogprofessionalsareaspronetothesebiases
aseveryoneelse.We’velearnedthemaspartoftheconventionalprofessionalwisdom,
andourexperiencesseemtoconfirmthem
 – 
notsurprising,sincecurrentbehavioralandneurosciencestudiesshowthathumanbrainsconsistentlypreferdatathatsupportwhatwealreadybelieveanddisparageanythingthatcontradictsit.Totopitoff,anoddingacquaintancewiththeburgeoningfieldofcaninegeneticsresearchindisputablydemonstratesconnectionsbetweengeneticsandbehavior.Onenewstudyevenappearstohavefoundthelocationsonthemapofthecaninegenomethataccountforpointerspointingandherdersherding.
Sowhynotusebreedasawaytochoosetheparticularpuppyordogwho’slikelyto
helpusfulfillthedreamoftakingaperfectlybehaved,friendlydogtocheerthelivesofpeopleinnursinghomes,beendlesslytolerantwithourkidsorhavethekindofindefatigableenthusiasmforretrievingthatmakesagoodcontraband-sniffingdog?Howaboutusingbreedstereotypestoguidepublicpolicydecisionsonwhethersomedogsaremorelikelythanotherstopresentadangertopeople,orsimplytoassesswhetherthatdogcomingtowardusmeansusgoodorill?
BREEDS AND BEHAVIOR
“They’re not like other dogs” –
or are they?
 
 
2
www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com
Turns out
it’s not that simple.
 
First,thereisthe“whatkindofdogisthat?”question.
Probablyatleasthalfoftheestimated77.5milliondogsin
theU.S.aremixedbreeds.It’scommonpracticeamong
peopleworkinginrescuesandshelterstoidentifythedogs
intheircareas“predominantlybreedX”orasan“X/Y”mix.
Recently,whenscientistsusedDNAanalysistotesttheaccuracyofsuchlabeling,theyfoundthatamongdogslabeledbyadoptionworkers,onlyonedoginfouractuallyhadthenamedbreedconfirmedassignificantly
 – 
muchless,predominantly
 – 
represented.Thiswouldnotbeasurprisetoanygeneticistorindeed,
anyonewhohaseverglancedatScottandFuller’svenerable1960’sstudyofcaninedevelopmentandbreed
characteristics,whichfoundthatbreeding,forexample,aBasenjitoaCockerSpanieloftenresultedinpuppieswithlittleornoresemblancetoeitherparent. Andevenreliableidentificationoftheancestryofamixed-
breeddogbyitselfwouldn’thelpuspredictanincreased
likelihoodofknown,geneticallydriventraits
 – 
say,theblood-clottingdisorderthatplaguesDobermansortheheartdefectsofCavaliers.Theparentsofanymixed-breeddoghave,bydefinition,wadedouttheclosedgenepoolthatmakespurebreddogssuchfertilegroundforgeneticresearch.Theinevitableinbreedingofpurebredpopulations,combinedwiththephenomenoncalledgeneticdrift,graduallydecreasesoverallgeneticdiversity;moreandmoreanimalshavefewerandfewervariabletraits,includingcha
racteristicsthataren’tdeliberatelyselectedfor
oragainst.ButasresearchersfoundwithacolonyofwolvesinSweden,eveninbreedingsoseverethatitcausesinfertilitycanbereversedbytheintroductionofjustoneoutsider.So,ifwecoulddemonstratesuchathingas
“actinglikeaBeagle”or“actinglikeaBasenji,”therewould
belittlereasontoexpecteitheronefromtheoffspringofaBeagle/Basenjipairing.ButwhataboutthosepurebredBasnejisandBeaglesand
CattleDogsandAfghansandGoldenRetrievers?Can’twe
expectthemtobehaveconsistentlyinwaysthatresembleworkatwhichtheywereonceselectedtoexcel?
Yes and No.

ThecaseofmyAnnie,thelovely,fawn-coloredGreyhoundcamouflagedinapileofpillowsonmycouchasIwritethis,maybeinstructive.Shecameintorescuedirectlyfromthebreedin
gfarm.It’sobviouswhyshenevermadeittothe
racetrack.WhenmyotherGreyhound,Henry,aracersuccessfulenoughtostayaliveuntilretirementatfour,barksandquiversatthelivingroomwindowatthesightofasquirrelortakesoffinanecstatic(albeitfutile)pursuitofa jackrabbitatthelocaloff-leashpark,Annielooksupblandly
andthen,withaclear“
Whatever 
,”goesbacktoher
interruptedsniffingorchewingorresting. Andyet,everysingleoneofherancestors,goingbackscores,perhapsevenhundreds,ofgenerations,washyper-motivatedtochase.Theywouldnothavehadtheopportunitytoreproduceotherwise. ______________________________________________
Reliably increasing the likelihood of complexbehaviors through selective br
eeding isn’t easy.”
 
 _______________________________________________RacingGreyhoundsarebredfortwothingsonly:akeeninclinationtopursuesmall,fast-movingfurrythingsandthephysicalabilitytodoitatagreatspeed.Racingindustryinsidersestimatethatonlyabout70to80percentofthedogswhoresultfromthisruthlessselectionprocessarekeenenoughtorace.Now,a75percentincidenceofatrait
soundsprettyhigh.You’dcertainlytakethoseoddsin
Vegasattheroulettewheel.Buthis
isatraitthat’salready
extremelycommonacrossthespecies;itis,inalllikelihoodthemostwidespreadofthepredationbehaviorsofhunting,stalking,chasing,killing,dissectingandeatingfirst

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