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Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.

That was then, and now is now. Time seems to have moved on. Dexter and Hannah have memory, but seem to live, as far as I can tell in the present.

Last week was a one of passing storms with thunder and rain. We managed to avoid the effects, or we did not go out. It was interesting to witness the build up of the clouds, hear the thunder from away, and then when the storm was closer to roughly measure the time between the the thunder and the lightning. It turns out, I was wrong in my assumptions of what was safe.

Neither Dexter or Hannah seem to be wise in the ways of storms. Some learning requires experience. Doubtless they are affected by breeding. Human beings have taken it upon themselves to design dogs. This can be a problem for rescue dogs.

At Huffington Post, Arin Greenwood posed questions to “dog expert” Jessica Hekman, including:

Does the same hold true for mixed breed dogs? If a dog is, say, half golden retriever, can we make good predictions about that dog’s personality?

It’s even harder to predict personality in a mixed breed dog because the genes from the parents of different breeds can interact in surprising ways.

This is just a result of how genetics work. Basically, a purebred dog is purebred because his ancestors have been inbred until they are genetically identical for the traits that we care about. In other words, all golden retrievers have long hair — that’s one of the traits that we made sure to “fix” in that breed, because we liked it and decided that trait would be a defining trait of that breed. Meanwhile, we “fixed” the trait for curly hair in poodles.

Now, breed a golden to a poodle and you are mixing known gene versions with known gene versions — mixing long hair with curly hair. You know 100 percent for sure what you’ll get (in this case curly hair is dominant, so all the poodle/golden cross puppies will have curly hair).

But then you take these mixed-breed puppies and breed them to each other. Now you’re not breeding purebreds any more. So now you don’t know what the offspring will be — they will be quite genetically varied. What will show up in the next generation, curly hair or long hair? You don’t know.

That’s just a mix with two known breeds involved. What about a mixed breed like my dog Jenny who has who knows what in her? Breed her to another mixed breed and you have a whole mess of different versions of genes interacting. Really hard to predict what you’ll get.

What about pit bulls? Is there, according to veterinarians, a breed called pit bull? And are there any personality traits that pit bulls will share?

There is no single breed called the pit bull. They are a group of breeds, including the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and (depending on who you ask) a variety of other related breeds.

In addition, many mixed-breed dogs with a particular physical type (medium size, blocky head, short coat, muscular) are often referred to as pit bulls.

Personality traits shared among these dogs are under a lot of debate and you’ll get different answers depending on who you ask. My personal experience is that they are high energy and intelligent.

Are there any dogs who are genetically likely to be dangerous? Does it make any sense to categorize breeds as such based on genetics?

Dogs who are not well socialized and dogs who are not used to living with humans are at risk of being dangerous. How we treat dogs has much more to do with their behavior than their breed.

That said, genetics does play a role in behavior as well, and I believe that some individual dogs are born with inherent risk of developing aggression. I don’t think any breeds are at such a high risk of developing aggression that it makes sense to pass legislation about them — it is much more effective to pass legislation supporting responsible dog ownership and establishing protocols for dealing with individual dogs who have proven themselves to be dangerous.

Are there any misconceptions about dog breeds and personality traits you run into very often?

I think people do tend to assume that individual dogs have the personality associated with their breed. It’s not always a good assumption!

Dogs are individuals, even if many of them do come in these convenient breed groups. Think of a dog’s breed as giving its personality a tendency to develop in particular directions, but no guarantee.

Dexter and Hannah as individuals went out and gave expression to tendencies and individuality. A record was made:

“Come by the Hills” is a Celtic song, and the Celts are the closest to being Indigenous, First Nation, Europeans would sing in English. Furthermore in this version by the Clancy Bothers, there is a recitation of by poem by William Butler Yeats. Now that is pretty unbeatable. And Fancy is a dog.


1. wmmbb - December 14, 2014

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939): The Lake Isle Of Innisfree (1888)

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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