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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve Changed My View On Pit Bulls And Dog Aggression | 3 Bad Bullies

I actually came across the link on another forum & the thread this blog entry was linked in generated some very vert interesting conversation between many very experienced Pit Bull people.

I am not going to state my beliefs on this as to not shade others first opinions on reading it but am very interested to hear others thoughts.

I will copy & paste some of the conversations this as generated on other forums & blogs later in this thread.
 

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I'm not really sure if I agree. I've owned three pit bulls in my life, two were mixes and one was a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier. None of them had any problems with communicating with other dogs.

On top of that, I'm really skeptical about the whole "aggression is a learned behavior" thing. Have you ever seen that Nova Dogs Decoded? In it, they were studying how dogs were domesticated from wolves. They tried it with silver foxes. The foxes that were more-so friendly towards humans were bred together and the ones that were more aggressive were bred together. The friendly fox offspring were friendly, and over the years became friendlier and friendlier until they were domesticated. The aggressive fox offspring was never friendly. They even took the offspring from each and switched them. The friendly fox was given aggressive offspring, the aggressive fox was given friendly offspring. Despite the difference in environment and who they were learning from, the aggressive offspring were always aggressive, the friendly offspring were always friendly.

I do believe that aggression can be bred. Do I think all pit bulls are dog aggressive? Definitely not. I owned two pit bulls together who were the best of friends. I do think, however, that dog aggression is more common in pits due to their dog fighting heritage. Long story short, I don't agree with the article.
 
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I don't think that all APBT are dog aggressive, and I think that aside from gamebred / dog fighting lines, it has been somewhat watered down due to not purposely breeding for it, BUT it's still there to some extent.

I don't agree with the article saying that APBTs do not know how to communicate with other dogs and that's what is causing at least some of the aggression. If what he was saying were true then what about those pups that are raised in loving homes, and socialized with other dogs and pups from a very early age that suddenly at maturity start to exhibit DA?
 

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Agreed with GrayDog about the fox experiment. IIRC, there was also an experiment where the friendlier vs reserved offspring fell roughly on a punnett square suggesting a D/r link. I'll have to go through my books once Grey cup is over.

Also, I think their high drive + low pain threshold = bad communication fails for the simple fact that a lot of herding breeds have the same high drive and low pain threshold and yet aren't overly dog aggressive.
 

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Agreed with GrayDog about the fox experiment. IIRC, there was also an experiment where the friendlier vs reserved offspring fell roughly on a punnett square suggesting a D/r link. I'll have to go through my books once Grey cup is over.

Also, I think their high drive + low pain threshold = bad communication fails for the simple fact that a lot of herding breeds have the same high drive and low pain threshold and yet aren't overly dog aggressive.
They have a high pain threshold.
 

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I agree with parts of it (eg i think we have bred some dogs to be poor communicators) but I disagree with the idea that dog-dog aggression does not have a genetic component.
Dog aggression isn't about fighting, it's usually resource related - which is a completely natural and ancestral response for most animals. This is simply a trait that we've hypertrophied (like herding behavior in collies) in a number of breeds through selective breeding.
Of course, there is going to be a varying level of DA in dogs like pitbulls (that's how genetic variation works :)) and of course you can counter-condition a DA dog to be safe with other dogs under specific mediated conditions. It just takes a heck of a lot more work to do that when there is that genetic component. Also, I'm not sure how the author of the blog can assert that APTs are poor communicators and not recognize that that is a genetic fault?
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i actually find that article to be very insightful, and i think he's onto something. i definitely agree with this:
. And he said “Aggression is not a trait….. It’s a behavior“.
this:
If that happens enough. The Pit will get conditioned to go into adrenaline habitually around other dogs. Now you have an “aggressive” dog.
as far as pibbles being genetically DA, that simply doesn't make any sense, it never has and i've never been able to accept it.

i will also add that IMO it would be completely ridiculous to use fighting dogs as an example of DA. they just aren't. they aren't raised and socialized with other dogs, they are raised in situations that are conducive to create fighting dogs. you can't separate the nature from the nurture for these animals.

anyway, thanks for posting TM interesting read, and nice to read something with a big of a new approach to pibble behavior



 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I personally belief there is a strong genetic component to dog aggression but I do think certain ways of showing the aggression is more behaviour based.
I think the article has some good points & agree in a way about if a dog gets in fights it will continue to interact that way. Therefor 1 of my ways of stopping aggression is avoiding it being played out for a length of time whilst giving the dog new behaviours to practice in less raw situations(for want of a better way to put it).

It gives the brain some food for thought thats for sure.

I can not say it is all environment though as I have breed & raised too many full siblings etc etc to not see a very heavy genetic component but of course just because they have a parent that has a certain genetic trait dose not mean it will be passed down every single time either.
 

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Eh, I don't know that I really buy it. A lot of behavior has a genetic predisposition, or we wouldn't have breeds and groups.

I mean, pointing is a behavior, not a trait.
Retrieving is a behavior, not a trait.
Pulling is a behavior, not a trait.
Herding is a behavior, not a trait.

But I'm going to have a lot better luck successfully seeing those respective behaviors from a GSP, a labrador, a husky, and an ACD than a pomeranian, a bloodhound, an afghan, and a cocker spaniel.

I've also heard too many stories from breeders and breed enthusiasts of APBT "turning on" at some young adult to adult age when they haven't been in any fights (eg adrenalized) previously to think that it's primarily learned. One day happy and fine with other dogs, one day not.

Like a lot of behaviors, I think the genetic predisposition has to be there and then experiences can bring it out. Genetics loads the gun, environment/experiences pull the trigger.
 

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Eh, I don't know that I really buy it. A lot of behavior has a genetic predisposition, or we wouldn't have breeds and groups.

I mean, pointing is a behavior, not a trait.
Retrieving is a behavior, not a trait.
Pulling is a behavior, not a trait.
Herding is a behavior, not a trait.

But I'm going to have a lot better luck successfully seeing those respective behaviors from a GSP, a labrador, a husky, and an ACD than a pomeranian, a bloodhound, an afghan, and a cocker spaniel.

I've also heard too many stories from breeders and breed enthusiasts of APBT "turning on" at some young adult to adult age when they haven't been in any fights (eg adrenalized) previously to think that it's primarily learned. One day happy and fine with other dogs, one day not.

Like a lot of behaviors, I think the genetic predisposition has to be there and then experiences can bring it out. Genetics loads the gun, environment/experiences pull the trigger.
I really like what you said, especially the part in bold. Feel like that really hits the mark (no pun intended lol).
 

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I agree that not every single Pit bull is dog aggressive,but a high percent of them are and it is something owners should be aware of. I do not think its extremely rare,from my experience its definitely not.

Some Pits can show calming signals,submission and I've known of some that have become aggression on their own even when raised in the right conditions

Now I know DA can be pushed into them. With my Rott I remember the first time he got attacked by a loose dog he didn't have much of a desire to fight. Then he kept getting in more fights with loose dogs and that aggression greatly increased to the point of him wanting to kill other dogs. Later on with less fights and more socialization that aggression almost went away. So even a more genetically tame Pit bull that goes though the "practice" fights he could get that way too. Dog fighters do roll dogs,so the aggression is encouraged.
 

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Malta is a pittie type mix, and she is a great communicator with other dogs. She gives very clear warning signals when another dog is annoying her, and escalates gradually to the point she gives an air snap. She reads other dogs well, too. Dog-dog communication is a species-wide action/behavior, I think it's a little strange to say an entire breed's flaws come from their inability to communicate with their own species. It would be like saying a particular race of people were born with retarded communication skills.
I do think there is a genetic component to pit bull aggression. On another note, I don't think they are the only dog genetically predisposed to aggression, but they are one of the ones most capable of inflicting damage and tenacious enough to kill. I have met far more obviously dog-aggressive Chihuahuas and Pomeranians than I have pit bulls.
However, I do believe innate behavior can be shaped by a caring owner who gives a puppy a great start, and rarely is there an excuse for an owner who has owned the dog "forever" to have a dog who lives their entire life with dog aggression that is so unmanageable they can't even walk the dog down the street without it going bonkers. Regardless of breed.
 
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