Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Bullmastiffs - as "gud" as it gets?


The Daily Mail today carries the story of how the current UK Bullmastiff of the Year 2012, Hyerdunscar As Gud As It Gets got loose from his pen with another dog last March and attacked a woman and three children walking along a pavement.

Breeder Julie Lindley quickly destroyed both dogs and is, the court heard, full of remorse. I am sure she is. But how on earth did she come to have dogs with such a dangerous temperament? That kind of behaviour simply doesn't come out of nowhere.

Now the Bullmastiff is a guard dog and is bred to defend its territory. But "a serious and sustained" attack of three children off their own territory?

The KC breed description describes the Bullmastiff  as "makes a happy companion who is totally reliable both physically and mentally". Clearly these dogs were not.  And although it's clear there were some mitigating circumstances here (it's thought the dogs had been let out by someone trying to steal them) the dogs still bit three children and, according to evidence presented in court, shook them "like dolls".

Now temperament is paramount for many breeders - but not all.  And it's possible to get away with a poor temperament within in a system that is still focused primarily on looks. Sure, the show-ring conditions dogs to trot round a ring without attacking other dogs and it teaches them to be fondle-friendly enough for a judge to grab their testicles and not have their faces bitten off. But often not much else. Indeed, in attempting to maintain some semblance of the dogs' original qualities without the true test of actually doing the job properly (whether guarding or herding or retrieving or going to ground) the danger is that showdogs can end up with less stable temperaments than their working cousins.

In Sweden and some other countries, working breeds are asked to take temperament/mental stability tests. The results are published and taken seriously by breeders in their breeding decisions.

With new calls by MPs to extend the breed ban to more breeds, I suggest the Kennel Club acts quickly to introduce temperament tests for working breeds here too - and encourage the Clubs to promote them. They might just have prevented this tragedy, and would be a proactive and welcome addition to current requirements for Accredited Breeders (of which Julie Hindley is one).

The KC might want to suggest that Julie Hindley removes the glowing reports of Theo on her website, where she is still advertising the dog at stud

Part of the blurb there reads: "Theo is very exciting dog he is such a showman he never lets me down and is very hard to ignore in the ring We can only dream of what else is to come from this boy."  

Edited 21/2/13 + 22/2/13. Please also read the comments below.

165 comments:

  1. Why are you using something as horrific as this to gloat and score points :/ been a bit quiet on here lately.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Were you in court did u have evidence from sides oh no! You didn't! U should not be writing things like this two sides to every story I wouldn't be surprised if you have solicitors I. Your case now you stupid woman! B

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Eat children"? Were the children eaten? Would you call that a lie or "a touch of tabloid 'journalistic' hyperbole"?

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're right - it's a touch of journalistic hyperbole. One dog had blood in his mouth, but there's no evidence that it, you know, actually *swallowed*.

    Jemima

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You missed out the word 'tabloid' in your agreement with my summary, Jemima. Would you prefer 'scaremongering' instead?

      A user of correct English would be aware that one can swallow blood (haven't we all bitten our cheek or tongue at some time?) without eating the source.

      Delete
  5. Jemima is this just how low as you will now sink to make a story? Has no one replied to your calls/emails so publish anything pre crufts so you can bash it? Its so so sad a story and you just gloat, think its time you got some therapy to sort out your obsession.

    ReplyDelete
  6. While I totaly agree we shouldnt be breeding dogs with poor tempraments at all I would prefer to know a little more of the facts before saying she is breeding 'child eating dogs' Not that being in a ring is the worlds best judge of temprament but one would assume such a dangerous dog would not be safe or happy in the ring - so I would more prefer to know what set these dogs off and caused the attack. A very similar story was in the news not that long ago about a police dog as well - and we are not saying to stop breeding them - but to find out what has gone wrong in this case.
    Yes things need to be investigated, and I am in no way a supporter of dog shows, but personally I am pretty sad with this post on a usually pretty good blog, this is sinking to tabloid shocks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What set these dogs off? How about they were crazy and vicious? I am beyond tired of people that make excuses for dogs with unstable temperaments. Some go as far as to blame the victims of attacks because surely the pwecious wittle puppy was provoked.

      Delete
    2. What utter rubbish you talk, you don't know the breeder, the dogs or indeed the facts. So it is wrong of you to state such things

      Delete
  7. And why exactly did the Judge find her guilty then? It should be up to others to prove otherwise if they disagree with the verdict. Perhaps they should check the details
    The local press has some further details here.

    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/10236531.Dog_breeder_spared_jail_over_attack/

    Don't let the dog snobs get you down Jemima, you are doing a great job. It's an uphill battle once these fashions take hold.

    You are quite right to expose this breeder, and the least one might expect is for her to take the site down as a sign of remorse and respect for the injured. Perhaps the judge should have made that a condition of the suspended sentence. It simply proves her punishment wasn't sufficient and it won't deter others, as shown from the disgraceful replies to your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not a dog behaviourist or trainer, but a few things spring to mind that may have influenced this dog's temperatment:

    Was the dog thoroughly taught bite inhibition whilst a young puppy? Possibly not, if he lived outside.

    Had he been properly socialised with children of all ages before 12-weeks of age and then continually until he was 1-year of age? Socialisation is an ongoing process, not something you can do whilst the puppy is 8-weeks-old and then forget about. I say this because he went for the children, not the adult.

    Was he walked where he'd regularly meet adults, children of all ages and other dogs for the first year of his life? Some (not all) show dogs are only exercised within the confines of the owner's garden, because they either have too many dogs, or the dogs are considered too valuable to be exercised in public places where they could be injured or stolen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I run a rescue and some of our dogs we deal withhave missed out on early socialisation. I've had some that aren't great with other dogs; and some that might bite if challenged or cornered. I've also had some that are scared of children. We've had some collie crosses through our doors that might nip at the ankles of a hysterical child. But escape from a garden and *maul* three children, inflicting multiple bite wounds and shaking them like a rag doll? Er, no.

      Not you Fran, but I am pretty gobmacked at the condemnation of me for highlighting this case rather than the more obvious target. And it just proves to me that rosettes win over temperament for some.

      Staggering.


      Delete
    2. I agree, in part. You don't rescue guarding breeds though. :) A lack of early socialisation, coupled with the breed's inherent reactivity could be to blame. He could also have had an iffy temperament that was compounded by poor socialisation. Or, he could just have had an awful temperament that no amount of socialisation was going to sufficiently improve. The temperament of any offspring may provide insight into whether it's the latter.

      I could be wrong, but dogs that are sufficiently exercised, don't go tearing into the street the moment they're let out. Escape through the gap and sniff around, yes.

      Delete
    3. how about if they chased someone who was trying to break into the garden ??? would a guarding breed give chase then? ... most dogs would .. guarding breeds or not !!!! FACT

      Delete
    4. Fran,

      I used to be totally on the "socialization" band-wagon like you are, but now I believe socialization is completely unnecessary for dogs with stable genetic temperaments. And conversely, that no amount of socialization will fix a crappy genetic temperament.

      I would assume that one of the main points of thoughtful dog breeding is to aim for ALL dogs living in 21st century civilization to be social enough that they won't maul strangers passing by the house.

      I've studied, trained and shown dogs (in conformation and 10 sports) since 1977, and also participated heavily in rescue and at all-breed shelters as a volunteer. In my experience, 80% of temperament is INHERITED and IMMUTABLE. If a dog has a great temperament genetically, you can chain him in a shed for a few years, beat him, and he will still love everybody he meets.

      If you have a dog with a crappy genetic temperament, you can give him the "perfect" lifestyle, introduce him to hundreds of strangers a week, have him hand-fed by all of them, and he'll still have a shaky and unreliable temperament.

      Families who buy puppies should not be FORCED to introduce them to hundreds of strangers, just to keep the dog from mauling people once he grows up. How about dog breeders instead breeding dogs that will grow up to love people whether or not the dogs have been socialized? What a novel idea!

      I saw Jean Donaldson at a lecture at an international conference. She said that the "perfect" (though unethical) way to choose dogs for great temperaments to breed to would be to chain them behind sheds and give them almost no human contact for the first year or two of life. If an individual dog still loves everybody, that's the dog that should be used for breeding. And I've met a ton of dogs like this through rescue (and adopted two of them). These dogs have no socialization, and one was rescued from a puppy mill / hoarder where many of the dogs had starved to death... and these dogs loved everybody despite having no socialization. They would not have dreamt of mauling people on the street.

      Delete
    5. S.K.Y that goes against everything we know about social animals. Some subset of extremely happy-go-lucky dogs will be fine with everything, whether socialized or not. And some subset of genetically shy, fearful, or aggressive dogs will continue to be so regardless of socialization.

      But the vast majority of dogs need to be exposed to something as puppies to be ok with it. Most dogs are ok with people because they are raised as puppies in a house with people; take that same dog and put it in an enclosure with no contact until it's a year old and see what happens.

      My own two are a bit afraid of horses because they never met them, but they come from a genetic background which says they are good with livestock.

      Many a dog who has never seen a person in a hat, or umbrella, or on a bike will start barking furiously even at its own owner the first time it sees such contraptions.

      And so on.

      I virtually guarantee you that you have met very few (not tons) of dogs who had almost "no" human contact for the first year or two of life; just the fact that humans bring food to mom is tons of contact, dozens by the time the pup opens its eyes.

      Delete
    6. I'm with S.K.Y. I don't know about the 80% part, but we've been hearing "socialization" for so long now that the idea of backtracking to reconsider the role of genetics, is going to be hard for many to do.

      Beagles are known for their love-everyone temperament. The typical beagles is remarkably forgiving. It's why they are top choices for laboratory guinea pigs, as well as their convenient size. I've seen stories of rescued beagles who never saw sun or felt grass, being let out. For some it takes days or a week, and others have taken only hours, to walk out, relax, play and kiss people, despite years of a miserable life, caged, not exposed to normal stimuli.

      This doesn't say much about all dogs on average. But beagles have been BRED this way. This means GENETICS. And it means genetic manipulation plays a large role in temperament.

      Pat McConnell PhD discusses this in one of her books; either The Emotional Lives of Dogs or The Other End Of The Leash. In short, she says it's crucial to pick out a genetically stable pup. Socializing is important yes, but if you have a dog innately fearful or over-the-top aggressive/territorial/predatory, there will be limits to what you can do no matter what socialization or training techniques you use.

      I tell this to people who brag about using behavior modification on shelter dogs so they can be safely adopted out to families; many being food or toy aggressive, then adopted to people with small kids. I've read people brag that "It's just about how you handle it" so to speak, and that they create dogs that let people walk up and practically manhandle them, ergo, safe.

      Fine until the dog gets comfy in it's new home with an average family not prepared to deal.

      I also read more and more talk about dog owners who know their breeds, guardians or sensitive herders, who prefer to not set their dogs up to fail, because their animals won't forget a bad experience easily. I own a fairly sensitive kelpie. I was told when I adopted him he was "soft" but also that he "loved kdis of all ages", the old owner assured me. Kids as a group are energetic, screechy, touchy feely things. My poor dog was surrounded by kids that came out of nowhere once, when I gave one seemingly alone boy a treat to hand to my dog, palm up.

      Children came from behind the house, bushes, I swear. They surrounded my dog. THey never pulled ears, pinched, etc, but I could see my dog was surprised, ears down, tail under. I calmly backed the kids off.

      To this day if he hears screeching kids, he pulls with all his might to get away. If one comes too close, he shivers. This was all it took to change his mind.

      I could go through all the modification I want. I will never be able to trust him around small kids. I seriously doubt it. I could try, but what to do if I take the chance and it doesn't pay, and a child is bitten?

      Some folks are more about proving their abilites in behavioral adjustment, than about practical matters based in reality. More tragedies like above would be avoided if folks would own-up to the strenghts of genes and the limits on socialization.

      Delete
  9. No I'm not saying it's right im just saying you using it as yet another whipping stick of show people sucks and says alot about your ulterior motives. I think it's awful for the poor kids but I'm pretty sure the owner of the dogs was probably also devastated.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A tad harsh, Jemima. It was at least a handsome, healthy-looking dog. Things happen by confluence of circumstances and any canine breed or mix large enough to do harm is a risk. True, though, that temperament criteria are critical in breed standards.

    I think one problem may be breeders who breed for the ring and treat their animals more or less as 'stock' rather than companions or working partners. They don't - they can't - get adequate socialisation when they spend many hours or days in pens and kennels. They may also develop more of a pack mentality that way.

    By contrast, pet dogs get to go down to the shops, visit friends' houses, sit in the front garden and watch people go by, etc - i.e. Lots of great basic socialisation training.

    ReplyDelete
  11. ...continued...

    I just noticed the bit about the girls being "shaken like dolls". Eek! Not good at all. Yes, that is prey-killing behaviour. Extremely dangerous.

    It does sound like a combination of lack of basic socialisation training plus poor inherent temperament were to blame. Professional breeders must do much better than that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jemima,

    Every time I think you have sunk as low as you can then you find new depths.
    You are clearly so obsessed with Show Breeders and The Kennel Club you try and turn a tragedy of which you know little about, to have another go at responsible breeders and the Kennel Club.
    This awful story was clearly a terrible incident that could not have been predicted. The dogs were believed to have good temperaments and nothing like this had happened before. The Breeder did entirely the responsible thing and had the dogs destroyed. She is no doubt heartbroken and now has to put up with attacks from you as well.
    This is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved, the Children the parents the breeder and the dogs. Yet you sit there gloating getting mileage from grief.
    You really are a quite loathsome and are letting your hatred getting the better of you

    ReplyDelete
  13. Is it my imagination or is dog breeding predominantly a female thing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No other anon, it's not. It appears to look like it. It's just like any other kind of event, all types of people are involved. Any genders, race and age.

      Delete
    2. But are they predominantly a female?, a quick scan of the various posts and b/b would suggest this.

      Delete
    3. Looking at dog show catalogues, it looks like anyhwere between two thirds and three quarters of show breeders are women.

      Looking at the show scene, it also seems to me (though that is a statistic that is not veryfiable using catalogues) that an above-average number of male breeders are gay.

      Delete
    4. Actually now you come to mention it during the two years I was in the show scene I don't think I saw anyone who wasn't a white British female there where a few men dotted here and there and quite a few of those were gay...........

      Delete
  14. I may have a different perspective on this....

    First, if you a true molosser breed, you simply cannot afford to have the dog "get loose from its pen." Period. Full stop.

    Second, what is a molosser breed? It is a dog designed to do something, and it is not to lick ice cream cones, is it?

    Oh, you think a dog can see an invisble properly boundary?

    Oh, you think it has read the rule book while in its mother’s womb? Right.

    You think it knows who is a "bad man" and who is not based on.... what?

    Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't.

    Was it trained? Right. Next question.

    Sure, you HOPE the dog will be fine with kids and little old ladies and field stock and other dogs. Hope, hope, hope.

    But let's be clear that ALL dogs are a liability on four legs. Jack Russell’s (my breed) are particularly famous for ripping the lips off of small children. A Bull Mastiff? Right. You hope it's nice, socialized, exercised, and bred for 100 years to be as calm inside as a lobotomized frog pumped full of chloroform. In short, you hope it's a massive lump of flesh that will barely move and not fart too much at dinner time. Hope, hope, hope.

    But what if it's not?

    What if there's a code inside there that is waiting to explode?

    God forbid right?

    The show dog is not SUPPOSED to have a code, right?

    It's supposed to be de-natured and useless thing, right?

    Right.

    But just suppose it's got a little bit of the old code inside. Suppose there is still a little bit of the Hound of the Baskervilles pounding around inside that dog? What then? Suppose that, under the right (or the wrong) circumstance, that stuff creeps out around the corner? Could that happen?

    Why, yes it could!

    ReplyDelete
  15. A real problem with people that show dogs (and yes, even people who run dog rescues), is that it can be nearly impossible to fully exercise a bunch of dogs, and it's not easy to train them all either. Off lead, a dog that gets too little exercise and too little training, and which might still have some small bit of molosser code coursing inside of it, could be a recipe for disaster.

    Look at Pit Bulls in America -- a couple of maulings every week. We bury our dead and hose off the sidewalk.

    You think a Pit Bull is far removed from a Bull Mastiff? Think again! These are all butcher’s dogs, plain and simple.

    And yes, breed matters. Some breeds are particularly birdy, some breeds are scenting machines, some breeds think on their own, some breeds are biddable to the point of being parasitic.

    And yes, some breeds were originally designed to kill man, fight other dogs, and grab wild boar and wild cattle by the face.

    Oh, you did not know that? You say you got one of those breeds and now you are SHOCKED that it is not as phlegmatic as a spaniel or as low-energy as lab? Ha!

    Bad breeding? What does that mean in a molosser breed, or a guard dog breed, or a herding dog breed, or even a Jack Russell?

    Oh, you mean it's "bad breeding" if it is not a lobotomized frog?

    It's "bad breeding" if it still has drive, and a prey code that can still be triggered, especially if it is untrained and unexercised and perhaps is poorly socialized as well? Ha! If you think that, then I think you might not know what this dog was originally designed to do! It was not designed to be a lump of flesh for suburban matrons and pet pretenders walking a farting mound of flesh dog around a ring.

    It was designed to bring a full-grown, armed and desperate man down.

    Having said all that, let me reiterate that any dog of any size can bite the hell out of a kid or two, and that most dogs larger than 40 pounds or so are fully capable of killing a child.

    My bet is that this mauling has nothing to do with "bad breeding" (whatever that is), and a hell of a lot to do with too little exercise, too little training, and too much fantasy on the part of the owner who swallowed the bullshit that "her" breed knows where a property line starts and stops, and would "never" harm a child, or a woman, but only the "bad old poachers" that exists in story and in her dreams.

    What wrecked that kid and killed this dog? Fantasy? Same thing as kill kids and wreck dogs every damn day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems it is only you and me that really understand this, that's a bit scary ain't it!! Lets say it again so the philistines understand it, dogs were originally bred to serve they were selected to do specific jobs this was achieved because of their inbuilt instinct to herd and kill their pray, when will the message sink in that mans best friend was never intended to lol around the house or prance round the show ring. Those of you in the blinkered show world seem to notice show potential in a six week old puppy but switch off to the potential of a killing machine!!!!

      Delete
    2. Do you suppose that all dog breeders have large numbers of dogs PBurns ? do you think looking at the photo of the dog concenrned he got that body from lack of exercise? .. the breeder owned 4 dogs .. Theo , his mum, his grandmother and a 4 month old pup .. exercise or lack of it was not the cause of this .. it was circumstances .. no more no less !!!!

      Delete
    3. Hear hear, well said. The breeder is highly focused on exercise, training and socializing. It was the malicious act of other people that caused this tragic incident. A total waste of two lovely dogs. People should understand the whole picture before slandering others

      Delete
  16. I think there is a great deal more to this story than has been reported by the DM. Bull mastiffs are obviously large powerful dogs and if they were really intent on a serious and sustained 'attack' I would imagine the outcome could potentially have been fatal!

    Possibly the dogs were engaging in rough play that got disastrously out of hand, which could occur if they were unused to children. The description of shaking sounds like this could be the case. The initial reaction of frightened screaming could well have acted as a stimulus (like a squeaky toy)and the fact there were two dogs involved would have escalated the 'excitement'. The owner admitted the dogs were 'out of control' because they were loose. It is a legal term and does not necessarily infer they went on a frenzied rampage as is being implied. The dogs were out of control because they were able to escape from their garden/enclosure - which should serve as a sobering lesson to anyone with any kind of dog to check property boundaries regularly.

    Public interpretation of dog behaviour is primarily about perception of danger rather than a genuine understanding of underlying causes. If someone is bitten then the dog has obviously aggressively attacked . Hospital statistics on dog bites are routinely quoted yet probably more than half the bites are completely accidental. Two Jack Russells escaping from a property, running over to a group of children and bouncing all over them, perhaps grabbing at clothing and flapping arms and hands causing minor injury would probably not merit a column inch in the local paper although the owner would probably get a dog control order imposed. Two giant bull breeds engaging in exactly the same behaviour will be viewed as 'attacking and mauling,' deserving death for themselves and utter condemnation for their evil owner! I do not dispute the potential for causing harm is considerably greater with large dogs and therefore their owners have to be far more careful that their dogs are under control. Undeniably little dogs have a greater licence to display behaviour issues than their larger cousins and there are probably a lot more aggressive little dogs than giant dogs - it's just they are less of a threat and so rarely make the headlines.

    Whether these dogs had previously displayed any 'aggressive' tendencies isn't stated. As this is almost always the case prior to an attack and usually reported, I presume they had not. It appears the owner voluntarily had the dogs destroyed without waiting for a court order. Whether this indicates that she had realised there was a real aggression problem or simply was so horrified by what had occurred it was her immediate reaction I don't know.

    Moving onto the 'showing' aspect which is the purpose of the post, Bullmastiffs were bred as Gamekeepers' dogs to deter and if necessary bring down poachers (using their weight rather than teeth.)

    I'm unclear how a dog that was apparently PTS in March 2012 was able to achieve the necessary points to become BM of the Year as it would only have had three months in which to earn them and they are the quietest months of the show calender. As the dog was PTS AFTER the attack it was not subsequently rewarded in the show ring and the 'numerous titles' (Champion, JW or ShCM which are the only real show ring titles) were achieved BEFORE the incident. I'm uncertain as to what you think stripping the titles would achieve, given that the dog is dead and cannot now be bred from. The owner currently keeps the prestige of the awards gained and removing them would serve perhaps as further 'punishment' but little more than that. I'm not an expert but I believe KC rules only allow titles/awards to be revoked if gained under some kind of false pretence - e.g. a dog being entered in a class that it was ineligible for so they would be unable to remove awards that were fairly won prior to this incident.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Part 2

    As I have said, there is no indication from the report that the dogs had a 'dangerous temperament' other than this one unhappy incident and as you say, this behaviour doesn't come out of nowhere. It would be strange that dogs which seemingly have not previously displayed aggression should escape to launch an unprovoked attack on innocent passers by. Did both dogs have a sudden psychotic episode? Based on the article I wouldn't be able to say the dogs were physically or mentally unreliable as there is insufficient background information given.

    The one criticism that is blatantly unfair to apply to the show scene is that temperament is unimportant. You give a vivid description of the examination (which actually entails rather more, including examining the teeth). Show dogs are trained from an early age to permit intimate examination by total strangers of all descriptions with maybe not even the briefest introduction. They must be at their best, steady and unflinching in confined, noisy environments, in close proximity to other dogs of different genders and in varying stages of the reproductive cycle. Many need extensive grooming and must stand still enough for sharp implements to be wielded safely around their faces and feet. They travel for many hours but must not get grumpy at the end of the day. An average open show in a sports centre would get roughly 700 entries. It is extremely rare for any aggressive incident to occur during a dog show yet put 700 average pet dogs into that situation and there would be carnage! The uninitiated will say that show dogs are trained to 'put up' with being shown but I know very well that if the correct temperament isn't there to begin with, no amount of training will really be able to compensate. The demands on a show dog are simply too great for training alone. Even in minority breeds, dogs that cannot be handled or do not show will not get high honours. You have quoted from the paragraph describing temperament in the BM standard. All breeds have temperament clauses written into their standards. This is not some fluffy generalisation that they all have to be well behaved but a requirement that is as precise and exacting as the description of the perfect head, coat etc and specific to each breed. Judges must take this into account. It is worth mentioning that traits desirable in some breeds are faults in others. Pastoral dogs should have entirely different temperaments to terriers and hounds different again. Fear and aggression are never tolerated what ever the breed.



    I imagine the website advert is probably an oversight as there is little point advertising a deceased dog at stud! (AI is very uncommon in the UK). The KC has no jurisdiction to suggest the breeder alters/removes any information on the internet and I'm sure that they will review the true FACTS of the case and make any decision about the breeder's ABS status accordingly. The last sentence I'm not even going to bother responding to as it does you no credit I'm afraid.



    ReplyDelete
  18. To conclude

    It's a great pity this unfortunate episode has attracted a sensationalised and poorly reported article. I'm deeply sorry for those involved and injured and it should never have happened. The breeder was certainly at fault for having the dogs in an insecure area but she has paid the price by losing dogs that were probably cherished companions as well as prize winners. She also has to bear the shame of a suspended jail sentence and the stigma of having owned dogs that injured children. I hope the children were not too badly injured or traumatised and I fully appreciate how terrifying it must have been for them. I'm also not saying the dogs were definitly unfairly blamed and were misunderstood as it's IMPOSSIBLE TO PASS JUDGEMENT based on these sketchy details.

    But I vehemently disagree with 'hyping up' an already sensationalised report of one apparently isolated incident in an attempt to suggest the show ring/KC is responsible for 'poor temperaments'. Do you have anything other than anecdotal evidence that poor temprements are rewarded in some breeds? Occasionally a dog with an untypical temprement might win but that cannot be generalsied across an entire breed and 99% of breeders are sensible enough to avoid breeding from dogs with genuinely suspect behaviour. Just because some dogs do not greet every stranger as a long lost friend does not mean they have poor temprements.

    There will be over 20,500 dogs being exhibited in the breed rings alone at Crufts in a couple of weeks time. I will be very surprised if there are any real incidents of aggressive behaviour between dogs or towards the thousands of visitors that the show attracts, so I rest my case.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done. You win the case.

      Delete
    2. Annie Macfarlane8 March 2013 23:09

      Are you for real???? Over-excited play! the children were mauled and had multiple puncture wounds on their faces, arms, legs etc., Somebody had to drive a car at them to try and stop them from attacking. You weren't there so you can't pass comment. The judge made a decision and the owner was found guilty. Any animal can be trained to act in a certain way in a certain environment. AI is becoming more popular now in the UK. The Top Dog achievement would be based on the previous years results...not the three months previous to the attack. Please start to have some compassion. I believe this is down to lack of exercise, socialisation and a superior attitude towards these dogs. All the Bullmastiffs I've met have been soft lumps but any dog will attack when provoked and the screaming of chldren is a common cause. These dogs were not only out of control, they were dangerously out of control. There is no doubt that if 4 or 5 people couldnt control them then the owner would not have been able to control them either or get them to stop. Fantasy, fantasy, fantasy! That said, this could be any dog of any breed up and down the country that is in a home completely inappropriate to it's requirements. I wish people would own dogs that are suitable for their lifestyle.

      Delete
  19. Jeez...... Excuses excuses, what is the matter with some of you folk? I own hunting breeds and therefore I'm fairly confident that no birdies are safe in my garden, the same can be said for small furry creatures when out walking. If you are going to own (we won't even mention breed) a guard breed it is irresponsible to assume that aggression will not rear it's ugly head at some point, it is without question the owners responsibility to ensure that the animal is in a secure environment at all times and they know where that animal is at all times, if it was your child or grandchild you would be blaming Jemima for reporting the issue, I don't think so! Shame on those of you that will defend irresponsible dog owners and or breeders over the welfare of children it's disgusting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. she she not 'reporting'. this is hype worse than the lowest of the low .

      Delete
    2. Hype.....lowest of the low......what planet are you on???? The dog world is doomed by the exact sort of people who are slating Jemima for raising these issues that is after all what the blog is all about! But oh no lets blame Jemima for daring to mention it rather than ask ourselves how do we best ensure events like this don't occur again!!!! Anonymous 18.35 you really are the teapot calling the kettle black! It's high time those of you in the pedigree/show world sitting on your pedestal looking down at the mere mortals started to live up to the expectation, until you do shut up!!!

      Delete
    3. Well Annie Macfarlane & Anonymous above, you are forgetting one vital thing, the garden was secure but someone let them out by lifting the fence panel (stealing them or being malicious)The dogs in this family are treated as pets and have contact with people and other dogs. Theo was actually handled by a young girl (he didn't know well) on several occasions.
      I repeat....get your facts right!!

      Delete
  20. Well now. This is a horrific thing to have happened. It is a guarding breed, though, and there is a fine line between guarding and being aggressive. If recollection serves, most of the guarding breeds require extensive early socialization to learn to distinguish normal behavior from threats. However, the situation you describe sounds more like misplaced prey drive to me.

    In all honesty, a dog could pass every temperament test and still have something go wrong. A dog that was just fence-fighting, for instance, might have a much different reaction than a dog who was exercised and then brought into the ring for a temperament test.

    This incident raises a lot of questions about the appropriateness of breeding dogs who are bred to attack (be it people or other dogs) and intentionally maintaining this personality in many breeds. I honestly think it has nothing to do with show breeding or not; surely working-line guarding dogs have also been guilty of attacks.

    We met a Brazilian Mastiff pup in a park by our house, out for some socialization. He was so darned cute and I thought he was lovely til I went home and looked him up. Now I only hope he lives far, far away and the park outing was a fluke during socialization:

    http://www.worldlydogs.com/brazilian_mastiff.php

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Their aggression is so well known that they are not even disqualified in the show ring for showing aggression toward the judge. This aggression is what has led to the illegal ownership of Brazilian Mastiffs in certain countries."

      .............so much for "Fear and aggression are never tolerated what ever the breed." as Julia had said

      Delete
    2. Julia is talking about UK shows anyway, in the UK the Brazilian Mastiff is banned...

      Delete
    3. My bad Anonymous I thought she meant in general. I apologize.

      Delete
  21. I agree with Mary, I don't like the hyperbole. Best stay objective, even if this is an editorial. If there is one thing I've learned about debating, its that its always best to stay above their ego. Don't use yellow journalism, no personal attacks, no one-sided arguments. Don't ever go on their level. Stay respectful to them, stay respectful to the audience, whoever it might be.

    In fact, I've learned to actually state the oppositions themes and reasons, then my own weaknesses in my argument first. Only then do I present my side, and how it is ultimately correct. This way, my opinion is respected, even if it is disagreed upon by the opposition. Nor can they effectively say I'm biased and coloured by emotion only, without making themselves look like manipulative assholes who are only trying to attack me personally, rather than refuting my argument.

    It might seem like a tiny thing here, with "eating them" but it really adds up. Already I can tell it is coloured text, simply because attacking and eating are totally different actions and/or stages in nature. It doesn't matter if they were actually "eaten" by a piece of flesh missing. The only scenario I could think of, is if they were starved, which is incredibly unlikely, as even homeless dogs find enough food to survive. Not to mention even the most fierce of guard dogs don't intentionally attack with the intent to eat the person after.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I personally believe any dog with aggression problems should be put to sleep, depending on the level of the intensity of their aggression. Breeders should find this a top flaw. Jemima, I must ask, is this mostly found in working breeds, I know toy breeds can suffer from small dog syndrome, and also English Cocker Spaniels (which I find terribly heart breaking) can suffer from rage syndrome(depending on the coats).

    ReplyDelete
  23. Jemima, have you ever blogged about rage syndrome?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Still a whole load of tosh and dribble being spoken on here...............the fact a dog is in the show ring proves diddly skwit, I have stood in the ring waiting to show my own bitch when two have kicked off aggressing at each other the judge simply turned a blind eye oh and this is not a one off incident, I have seen it with many breeds during my time at shows. What is more shocking is those out there still questioning the socialisation, the environment, who gives a tinkers cuss about that, it got into a public place and injured children fact! For those of you that in someway find a way to dilly dally around the facts here go look in your dogs mouth and view it's armour, all dogs have the potential to cause harm they are animals after all a responsible owner would never loose sight of that. This blog makes me think to many out there are no up to the responsibility of dog ownership!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I would really love to hear what the exact extent on the injuries to these unfortunate children were. These Bull Mastiffs obviously outweighed the children as they are a giant breed. Surely if they were out to "eat" the children they would have been dead from the attack. Also how was this attack stopped? Please elaborate. Any dogs in attack mode will not leave their "prey"... please investigate this aspect and update us all.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Having read the stories the Daily Mail have been putting out recently about dogs, dog owners, foxes , other animals and the RSPCA , isnt this just another of their sensational and inaccurate pieces of trash journalism?
    The fact that the owner of these dogs happens to show at Crufts isnt actually relevant to what happened - two bull mastiffs got loose and attacked three children, the dogs were put down and the owner got a suspended prison sentence. The Kennel Club does take temperament in dogs who are shown (or take part in other competitive activities) seriously - if a dog behaves aggressively at a show, bites somebody or attacks another dog, there will be a complaint to the KC and the dog gets banned for life. Every month there are one or two reports in the KC Gazette of dogs who have been banned and their owners named and shamed. Occasionally the KC will also ban an owner from showing and judging. Breed clubs have also been known to ban aggressive dogs from being entered in breed shows. Generally exhibitors ARE deterred from showing dogs with poor temperaments and other exhibitors disapprove of those who show aggressive dogs. Although we could probably all name a few dogs that we quietly avoid on the benches or dont stand next to in the ring
    So the way this story emphasises that these dogs were successful show dogs , apparently linking Crufts with poor temperaments , really isnt very fair to the overwhelming majority of exhibitors whose dogs DONT behave like this, and are kept under control at all times

    ReplyDelete
  27. The Bull Mastiff is one of the most aggressive breeds, and pedigree breeding can only intensify this trend. How many more of these tragedies will occur before people accept this is part of the problem?

    This breed resulted from the careful breeding of the old style of English Bulldog and the English Mastiff, to produce a large powerful breed that was extremely loyal. These dogs were used to guard English estates and to protect the gamekeepers who managed the grounds.

    See most aggressive dog breeds

    ReplyDelete
  28. Fact - a fence panel had been altered in the garden where the dogs were let out...who checks their fence panels every time they let their dogs out into the garden??????? I doubt anyone...therefore should this have been your fence panel and your dogs got out you would be liable to prosecution also! It is a criminal offence for a dog to be out of control in a public place dangerous or not! It makes absolutely no difference in a court of law if a third party was involved and let the dogs out. We will never know what led to the incident occuring as there was no one there to see it. There are fact missing from the newspaper reports which are vital to the case and prove that Julie Lindley is not an irresponsible owner! Theo was her life, she adored him, he lived in the home with the other bullmastiffs, he was far from "just a show dog living in a kennel". When are people going to realise that the media love these stories and choose to write the gory details over the facts.

    My own personal opinion, and i am in no way trying to defend dogs biting children, i would like to understand how a dog the size of Theo and the pure muscle that he was, could pick up and shake a child like a doll and not kill the child, and how anyone could have pulled a dog off the children bearing in mind the newspaper writes as though the dogs were on a rampage out to kill the children. A full grown man would struggle to pull a raging Bullmastiff from a child let alone 2 bullmastiffs and be able to fend the dogs off. The story is exactly that, a story to sell papers. Lets not judge people based on BS written in a newspaper that is blatantly anti dogs, every week there are stories in the "Daily Fail" about dog attacks, all taken out of context and written with a shock factor.

    I have 4 Bullmastiffs, they live in my home, they are my life and they sleep in my bed beside me at night. They are not the aggressive monsters that people portray. They are just big strong dogs, a big strong dog will ALWAYS cause more damage to a child whether playing or being aggressive than a small dog, that goes without saying. They dont realise how big they are most of the time and tend to lollop and bounce like a little dog when they aren't little! Its how they are. They have strong guarding instincts and will protect their property and family no matter what, but not in a savage manner, they are bred to knock over and pin people, not bite. People really need to think between the lines with these stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to this newspaper report, a passing driver rammed the dogs with his car, that's how he got them off!

      http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/10236531.Dog_breeder_spared_jail_over_attack/

      Delete
    2. How can a car be driving past and ram a car into the dog when they were in a field area near the school? This is utter nonsense. In another media report it was stated that the driver of a car "thought about knocking the dog over but he moved too quickly" its media garbage, written to create shock and horror. No car knocked the dogs over. Theo was actually led away by a passer by and sat and gave the passer by his paw, who consequently made him sit and stay to wait for his owner to arrive. Sound like a savage dog?

      Delete
    3. I am not quite sure how a dog that is "latched onto the face of a child and eating it" could be run down by a car without killing both the dog and the child.. ridiculous statements from ridiculous people

      Delete
  29. I've been to a few shows over the last 18 months and one thing that always strikes me is how well socialised the dogs have to be in the dog show environment - there just isn't room for grumpy and unfriendly characters. At the big shows like Crufts, it can be extremely busy and people would seem to give little attention to what they're walking in to or stepping on and dogs are frequently face to face and in extremely close contact with strange dogs and people.

    I've also seen judges send dogs out of the ring for so much as turning their heads and was under the assumption that any signs of human aggression was the ultimate no-no.

    The few ringcrafts I attended seemed also to be really good for this - I've vowed after atten ding several other kind of classes that the only one I'll take my future pup to is ringcraft as its the perfect bustling and fun environment to practice both 'ringcraft' and general obedience, with lots of friendly people both wittingly and unwittingly offering encouragement and distraction. Most of my friends who show also work / compete in other disciplines - ft, canny cross, 'dog stuff' so training and socialisation are a major part of daily routine.

    - but my friends tend to be gundog people so maybe I'm seeing it from a busier type of dog that isn't happy on a pedestal. I cannot see this from the view point of someone who would keep a dog purely for its appearance, cos the concept is alien to me.

    That said, I once did participate in a forum discussion about a breed someone had been told by a breeder, that aggression was selected for because it made for a more 'assertive' appearance in the ring - assertive being a word that comes in a few breed descriptions, but this was a hearsay discussion, and could well have just been relating to one rouge breeder with very silly ideas. I hope so at it was one of the breeds the papers love to demonise.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Lets be honest here JH you only picked this up because of the word 'CRUFTS' appearing in the title of the article. You hate crufts that much you will use anything you can against it and you do!
    I knew this dog, i had judged him previously and given him best of breed,his temperament was A1! I saw him at many shows including on the continent and his behaviour around people, children and other dogs was exemplary!
    what happened that day should be something we all learn from .. it could happen to anyone of us who have dogs no matter what the breed ! the dogs were let out to the garden, there were 3 dogs Theo, his 8 year old grandmother and a young 4 month old pup .. do you think if his temperament was suspect he would be with an oldie and a young pup ? the two adult dogs left the garden through a gap in the fence that had occurred because a third party had removed a fence panel, perhaps to steal the pup ?? we shall never know (incedentally the pup was found hiding in the garden, trembling laying in her own urine! which certainly paints a picture that something had occurred to frighten her to that degree ) .. what we do know is the 2 adults ran down a gulley behind the house, building up speed as they went ..perhaps chasing the perpetrator?? when they reached an opening onto a field area, school children were walking by on their way home from school .. the parents and children were frightened to see 2 large imposing dogs running towards them ..who wouldn't have been ? .. they screamed, the children screamed they shook their arms around and theo jumped up at them, the old girl did nothing at all .. the injuries the 2 children received were bite marks one to the hand and another to the leg ..(bite and release wounds not shaking, tearing wounds) the mark on the back of the neck was a scratch sustained from a claw, not teeth! .. dogs are prey driven by nature .. they had been given freedom by someone unknown .. given chase to someone unkown and then met with people and children unknown to them .. their blood is up from the run down the gulley .. what happened next was very sad for everyone concerned, but lets be honest here .. two adult bullmastiffs could have killed those children .. the wounds were superficial not life threatening !! these are the facts .. sadly the way the law is written at this time no matter that a third party had been involved mrs lindley had to be found guilty as the garden was not secure in the eyes of the law.. a campaign will follow to try and change the wording to this law! .. how can someone be held responsible for anothers act ? these are the facts .. the judge had the power to give mrs lindley 2 years imprisonment a 20 thousand pound fine and ban her from keeping dogs .. the sentence was 3 months suspended and a 1 thousand pound fine .. i think that speaks volumes! the children suffered and the dogs suffered as a result of someone elses actions .. mrs lindley being the owner of those dogs did the right thing and put them to sleep immediately. what more could she have realistically done to prevent this ? i would suggest that all of you dog owners every time you let your dogs into your garden you check the perimeter of your fence as there for the grace of god could go you !!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the facts, Anonl it certainly paints a vry different picture to the one implied by the DM and picked up and exaggerated by Jemima. Knowing the reason behind the result makes for a balanced view.

      There's no doubt that what happened to the children shouldn't have happened, and no belittling that at all, but the dogs certainly don't seem to be 'vicious', but victims of modern anti-dog society as much as the children.

      Delete
    2. Anon, if your story is the complete version (and it sounds very detailed) than that is very sad and I agree almost any dog could be in that situation. How many people have been bitten by a totally bomb-proof dog if they tried to separate a dog fight, for instance? A loose dog in pursuit of someone it saw as an invader who comes into the open and finds someone screaming and jumping (understandably so) in front of it can behave in totally unpredictable ways.

      That said, people who own large protection breeds bear extra responsibility in ensuring their dogs remain secure.

      I feel bad for all involved. What a horrifying experience.

      Delete
    3. Thank you for the extra info. It *does* throw a different light on what happened.

      I agree that a Bullmastiff intent on an attack would do a lot more damage than appears to have happened in this case - although "shaking like a doll" (and that's from the court evidence, not Daily Mail hyperbole) is clearly more than jumping up and mouthing.

      I would like to ask why Theo's grandmother was PTS if she didn't do anything? And if the attack was as minor as being inferred here, I'm also a little surprised that Mrs Lindley put Theo himself to sleep, although I understand that she may have thought that was the most responsible thing to do given the circumstances. I was touched by the story of him giving a paw to a passer-by who held him.

      Jemima

      Delete
    4. mrs lindley took both dogs to her vet immediately after the incident as she felt from first reports it was the right thing to do. we now know from witnesses that the older dog did not do anything at all but this did not come to light until a few days later, something else mrs lindley has to live with! what you need to understand is that before the court case went ahead it was set to last 3 days with 12 witnesses for her and NONE for the prosecution! but when they got there the judge called in the barristers and ruled that as the law stood mrs lindley would have to be found guilty .. she was told that if she pleaded guilty the prosecution would not push for her to be banned from keeping her dogs (her dogs are her life !)...in the light of that, all that the prosecution read out in court was not questioned because when you plead guilty your not allowed to have any say !! so the comment 'shaking like a doll' stood .. though if the witnesses had been called this we believe would have been proved to be incorrect !!!

      Delete
    5. Jemima said "I'm also a little surprised that Mrs Lindley put Theo himself to sleep, although I understand that she may have thought that was the most responsible thing to do given the circumstances."

      By organising it herself it meant that she could stay with her dogs while they were put to sleep, rather than have them taken away from her and destroyed, sacred and alone, by strangers. It was her final kindness to them.

      Delete
    6. To add; of course now this blog is compounding the tragedy of this sad event because some people will only read the blog article and not the comments, and will go away not knowing the truth.

      Jemima, you owe it to the children, the owner of the dead dogs and the dogs themselves to publish another article giving the facts the same amount of publicity as you did the hype. Otherwise you're simply adding fuel to the anti-dog extremists' arsenal.

      Delete
    7. I have edited the story and added a note to encourage readers to read the comments.

      Delete
    8. It's curious how some assume that a couple of comments by an anonymous poster must be factual because it paints the dogs and breeder in a good light. Had the comments cast a negative light on the dog and breeder, the same people would probably question why the poster chose not to sign their name to it, and demand independent verification of the version of events before they accept it.

      Delete
    9. Who cares if its anonymous or not, it is a opinon and whether anyone decides who's is factual or worth noting or not is upto the individual reading. Just because jemima writes her name it doesn't add any more or less weight to her arguments.

      Delete
    10. edited your story? why? a letter from a solicitor perhaps?

      Delete
    11. I've explained why, Anon. No, no solicitor letters - ever in fact for the blog.

      Jemima

      Delete
    12. The anonymous dog show judge's above report seems very unlikely to be correct or complete. It does not wash that someone would kill their own dogs without first establishing the facts - unless they were of unsound mind.

      Who would kill their own dog if its actions were as low key as described, without being forced to do so? Who would kill their second dog, apparently uninvolved in the incident?

      There's something very fishy about the anonymous judge's report. At best, there's no reason to believe it is any more factual than any other report.

      Delete
    13. Anon, as the law stands the dogs had no chance of being allowed to live (the law is weighted against the dogs and in favour of humans), so a caring owner would choose to be with the dogs when they were put to sleep rather than have them siezed from her and be put to sleep, scared and upset, by strangers.

      Delete
    14. It's curious isn't it that a show judge who spends a few minutes going over the dog then watching it trot up and down can assess its true temperament and declare it bombproof!!!! No judge that has ever gone over my dog could state that claim....ever, and we all know that a dog can be conditioned for the ring with various aids administered to keep them nice and calm don't we. All I know is that is someone had deliberately let my dogs and I was so super confident about their nature I would have fought hell and high water in court before letting my dogs be put to sleep!!! However if the dogs had displaying some form of aggression in the past or there had been a near miss before the incident then the only thing to do is put them to sleep isn't it?

      Delete
    15. Annie Macfarlane8 March 2013 23:38

      I agree. There is no way that I would kill my dogs until I knew all the facts. If the older dog did nothing why was she PTS? Why would you just take them and have them PTS? It's strange that when anybody in the show world comes up against any kind of criticism they are backed to the hilt. When top show peeps are convicted of animal cruelty or keeping dogs in terrible condition...it's always a shame that things got out of control. Then they have the cheek to vilify anybody else if they do something wrong. Puppy farmers are puppy farmers whether they show or not; animal abusers are animal abusers whether they show or not...and dangerous dogs are dangerous dogs whether they are kept by a thug or a show dog breeder. I wish this would all stop and you start thinking about the animals...and not the people that put them through this.

      Delete
  31. This is a sad story & one from which everyone involved loses.

    One thing that I couldn't help thinking as I read the various responses - why is it that the people who vilify Jemima for her blog aren't prepared to put their name to their posts? Why hide behind a cloak of anonimity?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. maybe because they see what she has done to others and the crap she writes.
      "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" as can be seen by the writing in this post.
      "call me petty" says the author.. that is putting it mildly.. I agree with another poster,loathsome is much more appropriate

      Delete
    2. What is loathsome is some of the truth that she has exposed.......think about it she is a journalist she be a really crap one if there was no hype! But you may like to keep your head in the sand, there is a lot that is very wrong in dog breeding and showing and it's time that stopped, those who wish to carry on breeding sick animals, ones with to many excesses and crap quality of lives are far more loathsome in my view and sadly these people are dragging down the good breeders that are out there, oh yes they are there but sadly we have to look much harder for them, what's all really sad is that the back yard breeder is going great guns because of the idiots and there extremes!

      Delete
  32. Muriel, its dog people, most are so engrossed in their breed they can't see what others see. Also for fear of others in their own group and judging them, and I mean judging them. Building up years of showing and knowing everyone who judges that you can't pi** anyone off for fear not get that red ribbon, these are the people that have issues JH. However some breeds have very nice people in them that welcome new comers and changes in breed SPEC.

    I hav a guarding breed who is well socialized with all, we got in to a display at crufts because of it, but she is a dog and they should never be trusted as they can't tell us what they are feeling so instead act it out. I think it easy to forget this from all the kisses and cuddled we get.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "I suggest the Kennel Club acts quickly to introduce a temperament test for breeds such as the Bullmastiff."

    Oh really Jemima? So now you have changed your tune and are going against what every resepcetd animal welfare organisation is preaching- DEED NOT BREED.
    At the end of last year there was a terrible incident in which a Jack Russell terrier killed a child. So why didnt you report this jemmima? Maybe as it wasn't Kennel Club registered and it wasnt a show dog. You really are so transparent.
    Carol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Temperament tests are already well established in some countries and in a range of working breeds - eg in Sweden where, for instance, you cannot register a litter of border collies without the parents having completed a mental test. The results of those tests are listed on the Swedish Kennel Club website and freely available. The tests are taken seriously and dogs with poor scores are not bred from.

      And have a look at this initiative by the Hovawart Club of North America: http://www.hovawartclub.org/temperamentfaq.html

      Jemima

      Delete
    2. Just a small correction. To be able to breed a litter of Border Collies, the parents must be x-rayed and free from Hip Dysplasia and they must have passed a herding test. The German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Belgian Shepherd, Doberman, Collie and so on must be x-rayed and free from Hip Dysplasia and have passed the test "Mental Description" if you want to breed from them.

      Delete
    3. That's not exactly true - many people, particularly farmers, breed border collies that have absolutely no health tests done at all, and have never had any formal herding test.

      There is nothing that prohibits the breeding of any dogs of any breed (other than the four banned breeds) whatsoever.

      Perhaps Maria isn't referring to the UK?

      Delete
    4. Maria is referring to Sweden, Mary.

      Delete
    5. Thank you for the clarification, Jemima. :) However my Swedish friend tells me that, just as here, there are those who breed from untested animals, especially if they're just wanting working dogs and aren't bothred about registration. Puppies that don't sell are 'disposed of'.

      Delete
    6. I was under the impression that the vast majority of dogs in Sweden are registered with the Swedish Kennel Club. Bodil?

      Delete
  34. Finally someone out there with plain old common sense, thanks Cara I'm glad someone here is able to see the obvious, a dog for a dog, an animal with instinct who is unable to think or communicate at human level which I'm afraid means they are unable to behave with human rational, they do not think or evaluate they react - simple! Could those who keep slamming jemima please explain why they are so offended? I for one certainly find her post much less offensive than dangerous dogs on the loose in a public place causing harm to innocent children!!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is a sad and complex story, but I congratulate JH for raising this important issue. I certainly don't think it is a "low act" as so many of the anono-cowards imply.
    I also agree with Terrierman:
    "First, if you a true molosser breed, you simply cannot afford to have the dog "get loose from its pen." Period. Full stop. "

    ReplyDelete
  36. I see that you have edited you comments and taken out some of the more infamatory phrases. I am glad you have thought this through. Can I politely suggest that you always give yourself 24 hours to think before posting? Some of you comments were completley OTT.

    I dont think anyone was condeming you for highlighting this case. The comdemnation was for the sensentionlised way and your use of emotive phrases like "Eating children" and your attempting to link this with show dogs and lay the blame at the Kennel Club's door. This was a terrible incident and noone would attempt to pass it off, but there will be many facets to it and we need to see itfactually reported so that we can all learn.

    Carol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I was a bit hasty on this one, hence why I have edited it - in particular to refocus on the fact that temperament/mental stability tests would be a good thing for working breeds (in particular). And, indeed, they would help set KC dogs of breeds like the Bullmastiff apart from non KC versions of the breed (although of course in an ideal world, temperament-tests for all would be an even better idea)..The point that the showring is not in itself a good judge of character is unchanged - and yep, I do blame the KC for this as I think much more could have been done in this respect, particularly given the lead other KCs have taken. As with health, form follows function, not the other way round. This remains the showring's greatest flaw.

      Delete
    2. fail on logic.. how could the temperament testing of KC Bullmastiffs separate them from non KC ones..are you suggesting that KC dogs should be the only one allowed to be tested.. or required to be tested..or are you saying that all dogs should be required to be temperament tested and by doing that we wold have less dog bites? what should happen to dogs that fail?/ should they be killed?
      form does follow function but what does that have to do with temperament. form is the shape of the animal that has been developed to function.. big dogs guard.. or workers.. toys.. little barkers who serve no "real function;' maybe we should stop breeding those because they have no real function.why working breeds in particular? why not terriers.. why not the utility dogs? could it be that the Bull mastiff is in the working groups and it serves your purpose this week..are you saying that these incidents would be less if the KC required temperament testing but other dog owners were not required.. or do you want temperament testing to be required for ALL dogs? just what is your point here?
      and of course you blame the KC.. you blame them for everything..

      Delete
    3. Never mind testing the animal for temperament maybe it's time owners were tested for suitability to own their desired animal, I'm sure some formal training wouldn't go a miss for many owners either. When many owners can't even take responsibility for picking up their crap how can we possibly hope they will take care of their temperament!

      Delete
    4. Annie Macfarlane8 March 2013 23:46

      I read what Jemima was saying as....if the KC introduced temperament testing for KC registered dogs it would separate the wheat from the chaf....but of course all dogs should be temperament tested prior to breeding...in an ideal world.

      At the moment there is no difference between KC registered dogs...be it show dogs or BYB dogs. If a temperament test was introduced then at least the potential purchaser would know that the parents had passed this and the chances are greater that their dog will turn into a well rounded individual.

      The ideal situation is that people stop selling puppies to purchasers that are ill equipped to deal with their requirements.

      Delete
  37. Jemima said: “But how on earth did she come to have dogs with such a dangerous temperament? That kind of behaviour simply doesn't come out of nowhere.”

    Jemima, as you know I just about always support you but I have to say I think that in this case you have got it wrong. However, I also think that you are in very good company – most people do not understand the difference between predatory behaviour and aggression. They are apples and oranges, and predatory behaviour can in fact appear to come out of nowhere. On the basis of the very little information provided, it sounds to me as though the dogs’ behaviour was predatory, not aggressive.

    Aggression is usually (some behaviourists say always) based on fear and is a sign of an unstable temperament. Socialization is about reducing aggression: familiarity reduces fear and less fear means less chance of aggression. How much effect the socialization will have on the dog will be influenced by the genetic tendencies of the dog towards fearfulness or sociability etc.

    Predatory behaviour is not about fear. It is about hunting and killing for food. All dogs are genetically programmed to a greater of lesser extent for predatory behaviour and some dogs have it in spades. Socialization will not affect predatory behaviour because that’s not what it is about. You can have a very well-socialized dog that still exhibits high levels of predatory behaviour. Ask just any owner of a Jack Russell for confirmation of this.

    It is not all about how a dog is raised and some “good” owners can wind up with very “bad” dogs. I use quotation marks because the behaviour is “bad” only because of the context.

    Predatory behaviour is not always as scary as it sounds. Many of the working breeds we love have been selected for different parts of the hunting sequence: tracking, retrieving, pointing and herding all involve predatory behaviour. In some breeds, and some individuals, the sequence is taken almost to its end: kill (most dogs don’t actually eat their victims, the final act of the sequence). Think fighting dogs, terriers and sighthounds, though as I said, any individual of any breed has the seeds of the behaviour in their genes.

    I think it is unfair to condemn the breeder of the dogs in question for the incident without a lot more information, though she is, like all of us who own dogs, liable for their actions. However, I do think the incident highlights a real problem. The problem comes when you turn a working breed into a pet. Even if you are not selecting for these behaviours, which are genetically based, the genes are still floating around and the behaviours crop up – arguably even less predictably if you are not actively selecting for them. And the behaviours that made the dogs useful workers, and able to survive in the distant past as wild animals, are almost always problematic in pet homes.

    Dogs are bred, and marketed, for show and pets. Not many people see working dogs any more – they see pets and somehow think this means that all dogs are the same and have the behavioural characteristics of the ideal pet. They aren’t and they don’t, but unfortunately many people are lulled into a false sense of security about their pets’ behaviour. They don’t see dogs for what they really are. Many “pets” have inherited the desire to perform the behaviours they were designed for, even if that individual is not the result of selection for the behaviours, and much of the “bad” behaviour in pet dogs is the result of intense frustration at not having an outlet for their drives. Predation is, in many breeds and individuals, a very strong drive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Many of the working breeds we love have been selected for different parts of the hunting sequence: tracking, retrieving, pointing and herding all involve predatory behaviour"

      Absolutely correct; even chasing and fetching a ball thrown by the owner is merely modified hunting, and I can't think of anyone who'd class that as an aggressive behaviour.

      Delete
  38. Continued...

    Predators don’t warn their victims and often dog attacks that spring from predatory behaviour can appear to come from nowhere. Sometimes there are warning signs if you know what to look for. Unfortunately, most people involved in dogs, including many breeders, rescue people and owners, are clueless about canine behaviour. Unlike a growl (associated with aggression), stillness and staring are not warning signs; they are part of the predatory sequence, but if they notice them at all, most people mistake these signs for “Oh, look, Fido wants to be friends”. No, Fido sees prey. Fortunately, the result is often play, which is based on hunting and fighting behaviours, but if things go wrong, or the dog is in a high state of arousal, a nasty attack can be triggered by movement or squealing (think other dogs, cats, babies and children). It’s like a switch flicks and a dog that has “never” shown signs of “aggression” can suddenly turn into an animal that is very serious about killing something. The owners are always, genuinely, surprised.

    This is a very, very simplified explanation of behaviours that are the subject of massive books and week-long seminars, but it gives some idea of why I think it is unfair to condemn the lady in question without a lot more information, and why I think it is in fact possible that, while she is liable for her dog’s actions, she did not necessarily behave totally irresponsibly and that her dogs did not necessarily have temperaments that were any more dangerous than the ones belonging to the dogs the rest of us have in our homes. It is possible that what happened was, simply and tragically, the right (or wrong) circumstances came together to bring out what, in a pet, is the very worst behaviour possible, but one that all dogs are capable of. The incident was made worse by the size and strength of the dogs involved, though damage is proportional to the sizes of the predator and prey – there have been cases in which dogs such as Pomeranians and Jack Russells have killed an infant.

    For those that argue that shows are valid tests of temperament, it’s a nice theory, but I’m sorry – they are not. I am not saying that most show dogs aren’t very nice dogs and no judges make an effort, but with training, you can get a dog with a less than stellar disposition through a show. For example, you can put very fearful dogs in the ring that will accept handling in that context because they have been flooded. The problem is bad enough in my breed that the US club has sent letters to every judge, and published a copy on their website, begging them not to award points to dogs that exhibit poor temperaments. Now why would they do that if there weren’t a problem?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Sarah, long time no speak! Very good post, you are spot on there. I find it very worrying indeed that even people on here (with an interest in dogs) have been so quick to condemn the dogs and their owner without concerning themselves over the underlying cause. It is getting to the point where a dog is deemed to be 'agressive' irrespective of the circumstances. I wonder if people would expect the same harsh judgement to fall on them if they are in a situation where they feel life or property are at risk.

      I still however disagree that you can train inappropriate behaviours (fear/agression) out for the show ring (unless they are very mild). I know several dogs that are not shown because they have behavioural problems. Even if they could be shown, they would not do very well so there's little point. I don't know about other countries but judges in the UK are expected to disqualify dogs showing unacceptable behaviour and this does happen.

      Jemima, The KC is trying to encourage owners to put show dogs through at least the basic Good Citizen Test as there are regular tests at shows and special classes for dogs that have passed. Every single breed scheduled at Crufts has a Good Citizen class.

      Delete
    2. And hello again, Julia. Thank you for the compliment.

      My point about shows is really that they are not temperament tests at all, though I agree that in theory and often in practice, unsuitable dogs are weeded out through the process, so in some ways, as with many things, we may agree more than not. I know that responsible breeders do not show unsuitable dogs and that responsible judges disqualify dogs. However, I also know from personal experience of breeders who have "champions" that they breed from that have dodgy temperaments. A fearful Cocker spaniel is bad enough but a fear-aggressive GSD is very dangerous. These breeders may not be the majority, but they exist and that means that a number of judges have not noticed or that the dogs were well-trained to behave a certain way in a certain context. It can be done. Dogs are very aware of context and can associate certain behaviours with certain places.

      My own beloved breed has a terrible reputation, some of it deserved, and it is thanks to breeders and judges who do not take temperament seriously enough or mistake a fearful, aggressive, unstable temperament for the wariness and drive that belongs in a sound guarding breed.

      It's a pleasure to be talking to you again :-).

      Delete
    3. Annie Macfarlane8 March 2013 23:57

      that's why it's irreponsible to be breeding dogs away from their natural instincts and lulling people into a false sense of security thinking that their dogs will not show any primal behaviours. I remember one of Jem's blogs where somebody was breeding dogs...think it was Malinois...for the show ring and pet market and not for their working abilities. Those working traits never leave them...and it's situations like this that prove it. Best to let a dog be the dog it was bred for and then everybody knows where they stand. Currently people are breeding dogs saying they are great pets, fantastic temperament and then something awful happens and they don't know how to cope. A small dog is bad enough with behavioural problems....a dog the size of a BM is a different matter entirely. So it begs the question...should people who breed and live with a pack of these dogs really live in a built up area where these accidents can happen?

      Delete
  39. Debate this way that way, explain dog behaviour from here to kingdom come, dog ownership requires owner responsibility, if you need to check your boundary every time you let your animals out so be it, it's the responsibility you decided to take on!

    ReplyDelete
  40. The importance/relevance of temperament tests varies widely. Here in the USA, you can shop around for Canine Good Citizen evaluators and easily find one who will pass your dog. I know a dog who has bitten multiple humans (adults and children) and dogs (adults and puppies) resulting in bruises and bloody tears, but she passed her CGC.

    While most tests can easily single out the extreme cases, MANY aspects of temperament tests can be trained for. If you look at this test http://atts.org/tt-test-description/ most of the aspects of this test are trainable, and pass/fail is subjective and based on breed. How is this useful? I guess it is better than nothing.

    There is a reason obedience titles require multiple legs and different judges. At least with an obedience titled dog, even if it is unstable, you know the owner has demonstrated a decent control of the dog.

    I have yet to see any temperament or obedience test that involves maintaining control over a dog while a small animal runs across the test area. THAT would be a useful skill to demonstrate. The closest thing I've seen to this is a small dog that fails to stay during the "long stay" obedience exercises. There has been some debate on the safety of these exercises because of this.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I think the Canine Good Citizen test becoming an official AKC title is a step in the right direction. But frankly, temperament in show dogs is highly undervalued, especially in those dogs from the companion breeds. I volunteer at a shelter, and almost all the fearful and highly reactive dogs I've encountered are small breeds like chihuahuas, pomeranians and shi-tzus.

    The CGC is a good start and I'd like to see passing it required of all breeding dogs. The age at which a dog can pass the CGC also makes a big difference, and I believe it would help to have age recorded as part of the title. An 8 month old puppy well-socialized and well-trained enough to pass is far more likely to have an amenable temperament than a 4 year old dog drilled through the test elements until they become rote.

    However, there need to be more advanced levels of companion evaluation. Prestige will go to the dogs of most pet-appropriate temperament if there are title levels that are actually difficult to achieve.

    Lastly, I think this tragic event highlights the importance of socializing dogs specifically to children, particularly those who are running and screaming. They move and sound nothing like adults. Prey drive behaviors can be tamed with aversion and extinction if caught early.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m all for tests that test a dog’s suitability for work and have advocated for this on this blog in the past. However, there is no test that will give you a definitive picture of a dog’s temperament and guarantee that a dog is safe.

      I think the Canine Good Citizen test (and its equivalent in other countries) is a great test and I encourage pet owners to put themselves and their dogs through it. I agree that this is the sort of test that companion breeds should be required to pass. But it is not a temperament test and does not pretend to be. It is a pet manners test. Using it as a temperament test is fraught with problems.

      “Started in 1989, the CGC Program is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the community. The Canine Good Citizen Program is a two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.”

      http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/program.cfm

      You may be interested in this talk by Trish King on behaviour evaluation of shelter dogs. If you haven’t heard of her, she is a highly respected professional trainer and behaviourist who knows what she’s talking about. She mentions “scientific” tests and what they can and cannot tell you.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BigQSFJr6Dc

      “Prey drive behaviors can be tamed with aversion and extinction if caught early.”

      That is highly debatable, and I’m saying this as someone who is not against using either aversion or extinction if appropriate.

      Perhaps it is a question of word choice when it comes to aversion. I think you can control, not tame, predatory behaviours through aversion as part of an obedience programme. Rock-solid obedience is part of managing predatory dogs. This includes dogs that chase cars and joggers, by the way, not just ones that actually want to kill things. You can also to a certain extent in some dogs teach them what is and is not prey if you start early enough, and you can use aversion to create a negative association with a particular type of prey, such as snakes or cats, if you want or need to go down that road. But do you want to create a negative association with children? And depending on how strong the drive is, aversion may or may not be successful anyway.

      Extinction will not work with predatory behaviour. Extinction works on the theory that if a behaviour is not rewarded, it will disappear. This certainly works with some behaviours. The problem with predatory behaviour is that it is self-rewarding: it makes the dog feel good. I can ignore my dog chasing rabbits all I want; this will never make him stop chasing rabbits because chasing rabbits is highly rewarding in itself. Counter-conditioning does not work for the same reason: there is no negative emotion to change.

      Yes, socialize your dog to children to deal with aggression. It’s important. But it will not extinguish predatory behaviour. Your dog will probably never display dangerous behaviour. Probably isn’t good enough. Assume the behaviour is there, keep your dog under control and also teach your children not to run and scream around dogs. And if your child is too young to understand this, take appropriate precautions to keep your dog and child safe.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for pointing out that the CGC is not a temperament test. It is, however, much more difficult for dogs with poor temperaments to pass and creates an impetus in owners to train appropriate behaviors into dogs who have problem areas with strangers, odd noises, etc.

      On taming prey drive using aversion and extinction... yes, you absolutely can. They are both powerful tools that can be used to increase dogs' impulse control.

      Most of the less-adoptable shelter dogs I work with have little impulse control are their primary problem. Most of it is social, but occasionally I work with dogs with genuine prey drive issues (they tend to be hound, herding and bully type dogs).

      Extinction can be difficult to use as a tool, but effective in certain cases. Some dogs derive reward from engaging another dog, cat, etc to run. Present that dog with a completely non-reactive dog or cat (just lying down, doing nothing) at a distance and many dogs will give up. For very reactive dogs, a stuffed cat or HD video of cats sometimes works as a first step. Going forward, I work that tolerance level to higher degrees and also use counter-conditioning with rewards for non-reaction.

      A dog that has a thousand rabbits to watch out the window all day will generally have much better control over its rabbit-chasing impulse than a dog seeing a rabbit for the first time. Repeated exposure without the reward of reaction and/or chasing reduces the intensity of impulse. The key is that the exposure must extend past the frustration threshold of the dog, which, for some dogs, is excruciatingly high.

      As for aversion, it works wonders with prey drive behaviors. If it doesn't work, the aversion simply isn't strong enough to counter the dog's history and inherent drive. But it isn't so blunt a tool in the right hands that it can't be used selectively. Many dogs are taught not to chase down children, but are happy to play with them and be petted by them. It's merely a matter of breaking up the associations.

      It is possible to use aversion to teach a dog to completely avoid something (say, snakes) by using aversion in all cases of association (sound, smell, appearance, movement, first contact). But it is also useful in teaching a dog, for example, to not chase chickens but herd them instead.

      My own puppy came out of the box a chicken chaser (retriever-type). I started with positive associations for appropriate behavior around the chickens, i.e. watching the chickens and getting no further than a certain distance to the chickens. But the moment he'd "break" and chase them, I'd use an aversive (in this case a loud shout and later, an e-collar). He does not chase the chickens any more, but is happy to guard them and help round them up at the end of the day.

      Delete
    3. Liz, do you not think it was possible to train your dog without having to resort to an e-collar?

      Delete
    4. Certainly, I could have trained my puppy not to chase chickens without the use of an e-collar. Counter-conditioning paired with sound aversives (such as an air horn) would most likely have worked over time.

      However, the e-collar presented several advantages. First, since my dog was young (7 months old at the time), I had the opportunity to instill an impression that would (hopefully) last a lifetime. To do that, I needed to be able to tailor the aversive to be exactly the amount needed to turn him away while in high prey drive. The adjustability of the e-collar provided just that. I was able to turn up the collar from a low setting until I'd get just the right amount to get him to stop.

      And as behavioral science clearly shows, the right amount of aversive delivered early and reliably, is far more effective at instilling learning than a variable amount over time. I wanted to teach my puppy using the most effective method available to me that would produce the most reliability. Being able to trust him around the chickens is not negotiable.

      Honestly, I think the e-collar can be less traumatic and more humane than other aversives. After shouting at him for chasing chickens, my puppy was noticeably shaken (he's very people-oriented). Using a long line is much more likely to injure the puppy or me. He bounced back from e-collar corrections much faster, but the correlation between chasing and punishment seemed to be clearer to him.

      E-collars are much maligned as being perceived as too harsh. However, I purchased a collar with a lower range, designed for smaller and softer dogs. And yes, I put it on my own neck. At low settings, it's completely imperceptible. At medium settings, it's annoying; if you've ever tried one of those electric ab exercisers, you know the feeling. The highest settings are much like when you turn your head too fast and pinch a nerve. Painful, but only briefly so.

      Additionally, the option of the "pager" mode which vibrates the collar is really useful, even though the collar isn't needed for corrections. I can use it to recall the puppy at further range and in environments (like a noisy dog park) in which he may not be able to hear me. And, should he go deaf in old age like so many retrievers, I'll be able to call him when he's out of sight.

      Delete
    5. It's worth pointing out that the use of e-collars is illegal in Wales.

      Delete
    6. What utter nonsense, my late beautiful lab cross collie, worked sheep, picked up quarry and yet could sit outside with the chickens at his feet, also wild birds would land very close by not to mention he could keep cows in the shed but also walk up to them and lick their noses through the feed barrier. This was achieved by teaching him the recall and wait command, rewarding desired behaviour and always remaining consistent and a little bit of patience, no dog should have to learn with punishment......ever!!!

      Delete
    7. Liz,

      Thanks for the response. It is very interesting.

      Regarding extinction and aversion, as I said, I think the point is debatable, partly because we may be talking at cross-purposes – I’m still not sure if by “taming” you mean “controlling”. And I would dearly love to talk more with you regarding habituation vs extinction vs desensitization and counter-conditioning vs reward, but while I think that a lot of people on the training forum I’m on would be really interested, I’m not so sure this is the place.

      And anyway, the bottom line is, if you are making difficult dogs more adoptable, then good for you – who cares about whether we agree about terminology or not if what you do is working.

      The $10 million is, though, after it had completed your programme, would you leave a dog that has exhibited dangerously predatory behaviour alone for any period, let alone frequent, extended periods, with its former prey object(s)? Sorry – this really isn’t a hostile question. I just have to ask. I really am curious.

      Delete
    8. While it is possible to use nothing but positive rewards and negative punishment (taking away a reward, like attention) to train dogs, I choose not to limit myself to those tools. Though I use them the vast, vast majority of the time for training (I aim for an 8-to-1 ratio of reward to punishment), I draw the line where the life of my dog or another creature is at stake. I'm simply not willing to take the risk associated with extended counter-conditioning in such cases as rattlesnakes, traffic, chasing chickens and chewing electrical cords.

      I believe aversives and punishments (including the word, "No!") are a useful and powerful tool in teaching. To me, the long-term positive outcome of such training far, far outweighs a brief unpleasant stimulus. But I respect your decision not to use them.

      Delete
    9. My Whippet used to chase my chickens and very nearly killed one a couple of times (always the same darn one that seems to find trouble). I now have the unelectrified fencing, which coupled with training, has stopped him from chasing my hens. The fence is sufficient to interrupt the chase instinct. Plus, whilst he could probably easily get underneath it, it's horrible stuff for getting tangled up in - the dogs avoid it mainly for this reason, I think. Perhaps I just like to think I'm a better trainer than I actually am!

      I found this interesting:
      http://manchesterdogtrainer.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/controlling-predatory-chase-behaviour.html

      Delete
    10. Annie Macfarlane9 March 2013 00:07

      If you could train your dog not to chase chickens without an e collar then why use one? Perhaps you should have considered getting another breed of dog that didn't have the prey drive to chase chickens. Very against the use of e collars as I feel they are the lazy trainer's tool. That said, I know they are very popular in the US...sadly!

      Delete
  42. A thought provoking, if not provocative in the purest sense, piece of rhetoric Jemima and I for one, thoroughly agree with it's base points. Your suggestion of temperament tests is a very old debate between the two camps of breeders and I see no reason, barring the usual cost argument, why these can't be introduced. The 'official' breed club for each and every breed, not just working breeds, should be tasked with providing their own temperament tests, and for pastoral/working/gundog breeds this could, and I firmly believe should, be incorporated into a 'working' test.

    Would any of this have helped the 3 girls and the adult, we'll never know and it's pointless speculating on it? How many times have we heard people saying "he's never done anything like this before" because the dog has genuinely had the sweetest of tempers for many years only for a particular circumstance to trigger the attack?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Does this tragedy prove anything, apart from good fences make good neighbours? In the 1950's, kids playing and dogs running free were common sights on our back streets. We learned from parents and older kids that faced with a dog, best to stand still and pretend not to be afraid; useless to run, dogs are faster than people. The dogs too knew all about children. Somewhere we still have a photo of yrs truly trying to ride next door's GSD cross like a horse. Prince wasn't playing that game (don't blame him, I was a hefty 2-year-old); no aggression, he made his point simply by assuming the sit position.
    Today cars have taken over even our back streets, and such mutual learning is harder to arrange; this tragic accident is a result. As in most accidents, both sides might have handled things better but if Anon 12:58 and Sarah are to be believed, it is to say the least harsh to blame either. And on that point, why would they make things up? Their comments read like honest attempts to convey facts, more than you can say for most of your Daily Mail!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob, you're so right. Modern society has made pariahs out of both dogs and children by making so many areas no-go zones for them. Now neither of them learn how to behave in public (children running riot in restaurants, dogs barking at passers-by) and so they all get banned from even more places. Children are kept away from 'dirty, dangrous' dogs and so don't learn how to behave around them.

      It's really no surprise that the best-behaved dogs are those belonging to street people; they go everywhere and are never left alone. Likewise children that are taken everywhere with their parents learn from the outset that they're not the centre of the universe and simply fit in.

      My point is that modern society has created the current dangerous dogs mind-set. Dogs are no more dangerous than they've ever been, it's just that humans have become more and more selfish and intolerant.

      Delete
    2. not to mention the religious aspect of many newcomers in the UK who abhor dogs and let their male children run riot

      Delete
    3. Oh well there we are then it's the children's fault, no blame for the irresponsible neglectful owner then! Mary it really is folk like you that are to blame, you are right years back children were more aware of dogs because dogs worked and served a real purpose, working dogs worked they weren't kept in the confines of a small town house, those that lived in the town usually kept a terrier to keep the vermin at bay............ Dogs were not intended to prance round the show ring or spend many boring hours inside, thankfully many do without problem but..........

      Delete
    4. Which part of my comments suggest that it was the fault of the children, Anonymous? 'Back then' children and dogs were allowed more freedom and more socialisation, and as a result were generally better behaved than nowadays; they were allowed to make mistakes and learn by them. That's all changed; children are often either over-indulged or neglected and dogs are discouraged from being in society - banned from shopping centres, many pubs and so on.

      I'm not sure exactly how the owner of these dogs was irresponsible or neglectful. Certainly she didn't check the security of all her boundaries every time she let her dogs out of the house (the vast majority of show dogs are also house pets who, when not at shows, get taken to the park, or to the beach, or to the woods and get just as muddy as any other pet dog) into the garden - but I don't know anyone who does, do you? Irresponsible? After the terrible incident she took immediate responsiblity to ensure such a thing would never happen again - she had her dogs destroyed.

      Your phraseology 'prance around the show ring' demonstrates that you have little knowledge of dog shows; perhaps visiting a few and talking to exhibitors would benefit you. You'd be surprised just how normal they and they dogs are!

      Delete
    5. Well there we are then you must know it all hey Mary? For your information I now own two pedigree dogs my pointer has proved very successful in the show ring with a forth at crufts, best puppy in show at Welsh Gundog many many rosettes that prove sweet fffff all! She is well handled, well socialised, does her job is a joy to own, my cocker does not show and sadly is gunshy so probably won't work but that is another issue....... I have two hunting breeds capable of minster meaner to date they have not caused any but as I am a responsible owner I am forever mindful of their capabilities and as such my boundaries are not flimsy panel fencing they are wrought iron and hedging and I always without fail check my gates are closed and secured before my dogs are let outside,maybe just maybe I'm over zealous but I'd rather be safe than sorry! For the record I didn't find much to like in the show world and despite having a successful bitch decided it wasn't something I wished to be part of!

      Delete
    6. Not sure what happened to my original response but here is another one!!

      In short children in society should not have to learn about dogs by adults mistakes! Families/society have changed but guard dogs would not have been chosen as the family pet anyway it is the responsibility of the owner of that breed to safeguard society not the responsibility of children and their parents to protect themselves I was bitten by my neighbours corgi several times as a child and it was a fairly horrific experience!

      We move on to boundary fencing, would you really try to keep a cow in a field with a bit of string??? These are big dogs heavier than most adults, wood panel fencing is inadequate, in my own garden I have wrought iron and hedging and yes Mary every time I let me dogs out I check my gates are secure and I even wait out with them more often than not.

      Oh and finally I know all I need to know about the showring.............my bitch has proved very successful with a forth at crufts, best puppy at welsh gundog many others but that proves sweet diddly doesn't it, one would assume you are accustomed with the showring as you have already passed your judgement on me havnt you? Sadly I found nothing positive to be gained form the show scene, you talk about children being over-indulged that really is quite funny! ....people there were so consumed by themselves and their dogs I couldnt tell where they started or ended, oh and yes that went across many breeds, it really is time for change I have seen first hand the practices that go on some of them quite shocking but all widely accepted if you are in the fraternity!!!

      Delete
    7. Anon 07:55 said:
      "[I]t is the responsibility of the owner of that breed to safeguard society not the responsibility of children and their parents to protect themselves..."

      I agree in part. However, I do think it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children not to go up to or pet strange dogs. I have lost count of the number of children who have walked straight up to my dogs and stroked them, without first asking me if it was okay to do so and whilst their parents watched and made no comment about their not asking.

      If my dog had reacted negatively to this unwanted attention, I am certain the parents would have been the first to complain - loud, long and aggressively - but such a problem could have been prevented in the first place if they'd taught their children to act responsibly around dogs. It's not just children though, I have had adult men and women dive in and stroke my very shy, touch-sensitive, dog without asking me first and I've not been able to react fast enough to tell them not to do so.

      Yes, dog owners do need to take responsibly for their dogs, but the general public also need to act responsibly around them. I think a big part of the problem is that the general public know that if anything should go wrong, the law will lay all of the blame at the feet of the owner.

      Delete
    8. Dear god Fran just when I thought it couldn't get any worse............that dog ran up to those children and attacked them what part of that didn't you understand? What should the children have done, asked every dog owner for permission to walk down the street, really I have heard it all.

      By the way I agree that it is polite and courteous to ask permission to stroke someone's dog but frankly it should not be out in public without a muzzle if it is likely to bite, that in itself gives a very clear message, but i really dont get what the fuss is all about, it bothers me not a stitch who wants to stoke my dogs so long as they dont mind a wet kiss.

      What is with the "general public" thing? Aren't they the ones who buy the breeders cast off puppies at a premium? Do you consider yourself something special? I am sick and tired of hearing the excuses for inconsiderate selfish owners who want to pass the buck instead and facing reality and taking responsibility, there are no excuses FULL STOP.

      Delete
    9. Anon 20:44:

      You took my comment completely out of context. I was referring to the fact that children and adults frequently go up to and stroke strange dogs without asking permission first. I wasn't referring to the children who were attacked or similar situations; I thought that was obvious.

      So, if a child comes up to your dog and pokes it in the eye whilst you're not looking, that's entirely appropriate is it? If they don't ask first, they could do anything. I see loads of photos and videos on the internet of children tormenting dogs and the parents are laughing. No dog should be expected to tolerate that kind of treatment, and for that reason alone, I want people to ask first.

      My dog is highly unlikely to bite, but being a rescue that wasn't socialised as a puppy, she dislikes being stroked by strangers. Therefore, why should she have to put up with this? I would have thought it was simply a common courtesy to ask the owner first? Parents USED to teach their children not to stroke strange dogs.

      I was bitten as a teenager because I went up to a strange dog that was quietly waiting outside a shop, despite my parents teaching me not to stroke srange dogs. The dog lunged and bit me. Whose fault was it? I would say mine because the incident could have been avoided entirely, if I'd listened to my parents. I no longer stroke other people's dogs without asking first.

      So if someone strokes your dog without asking first and then complains to you about dog kisses being unhygienic, what would you think?

      Delete
    10. For clarity, I was referring entirely to when my dog is on-lead in public places - e.g. at country shows, fun dog shows, etc. - and people come up and stroke her. Off-lead on walks, she won't go up to people.

      BTW, a dog doesn't have to injure someone in order for the owner to be in trouble. As usual the law on this is typically vague and open-ended. A person just has to THINK s/he might be injured. A wet doggy kiss on someone's face who isn't used to dogs? 'That dog touched my face with his mouth. I was afraid he was going to bite me.'

      https://www.gov.uk/control-dog-public
      "Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it: [2] makes someone worried that it might injure them."

      Delete
    11. Well Fran actually i think hard luck if you don't like wet kisses but no one ever has complained! These days children are not as lucky to have a family pet dog this is probably because both parents are now out working and may feel it is not fair to leave a dog home alone all day? this in itself may be part of why they are less educated, when people stroke my dogs it's an opportunity to speak to people about dogs and I always tell children that they should ask first because some dogs have a job to do eg guide dogs and some simply aren't safe to stroke, I see that as part of my responsibility, but then i also always carry spare poo bags for the a**eholes that wont pick up after their dogs!

      Delete
  44. Jemima, you know from my prior comments that I am mostly sympathetic to your efforts. Long before PDE or your blog I had been concerned about some aspects of pedigree breeding. I came from a home with hunting dogs, and imagine my surprise when I watched my first show and found that most of the dogs winning their sporting dog breed titles looked nothing like the wonderful hunting dogs I knew and loved, that the hunting dogs could never dream of winning a ribbon, and that the ribbon winners had not hunted in generations.

    I have also advocated on more than one dog forum of the need for temperament testing and some sort of performance evaluation (for dogs whose breed still has a function) in addition to the conformation ring, to help prevent the sort of extremes in type you have repeatedly raised concerns about. Again, that predates your show or blog.

    But in this case, honestly, I am very uncomfortable with your whole approach.

    First, temperament tests are all well and good, but how could any test mimic the situation described in the comments? Who could replicate a situation where a large guarding breed felt his territory was being invaded (and it may well have been) and that his human family and also an aging bitch and young pup were under threat, the dog got loose through a fence damaged by someone who had no right being there, the dog gave pursuit and then was faced with jumping screaming children? Indeed, even police dogs, who are carefully bred, evaluated, and undergo constant training; have been known to sometimes bite the wrong person when they are in full arousal mode.

    Secondly, if I read the dog owners' website correctly, Theo was just about two years old. He would just now have been developing his big boy personality. A temperament test performed on an adolescent or puppy will not necessarily predict how the adult intact dog will react in a few months when he realizes he is no longer the baby.

    Thirdly, what SHOULD a temperament test for a guarding breed show when the owner is absent and the home is threatened? You have argued in the past that the big problem with shows is partly that the function has long been forgotten, and the form no longer suits. But in THIS case, the historical function IS to protect. WIth no owner there to call off the dog, what SHOULD the test show? I would argue that a dog who remained placid in such a circumstance could hardly be called fit for the function of a guard dog. And again, once the dog is in full drive, becoming confused when suddenly in a small crowd can hardly be predicted by a test. I'm sure many a Border Collie who has passed its tests with flying colors is capable of biting a sheep given enough provocation and stress.

    This incident could have been used to highlight the extra caution needed in owning a guarding breed. It could have talked about whether or not we should, in our modern crowded societies, still be breeding dogs who are noted for being willing to engage (rather than just bark). It could have talked about how hard it is to find the balance between "deed not breed" and recognizing the folly in thinking that no breed is more dangerous than another; thinking that way is to imply that selective breeding is worthless when in fact we know it is not. Beagles are more inclined to chase rabbits, labs are more inclined to love the water, and yes guarding breeds are more likely to engage and fighting breeds are more likely to sustain a fight.

    But instead you managed to find a way to blame the Kennel Club, who really had nothing to do with this incident in any way, shape, or form.

    It makes me uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear what you saying Beth, but frankly my experience of show dogs are they are treated like spoiled children, they often don't get the opportunity to play in the park with other dogs, behave like a dog and bad manners are allowed because they are winning the tickets! Seems to me that Jemima has picked up on this in because temperament is not really a consideration, that 5 minutes the judge goes over your dog is no demonstration of that what so ever, the dog knows its coming its been happening since he was at least 6 months old. The kennel club can and must do more but so must those in the show world, they think they are the best of the best but I'm not seeing so much evidence of it all too many of them are narrow minded and unable to move forward for the best interest of the dogs.

      Finally lets consider the most important aspect here because it seems to be skipped past RESPONSIBILITY the focus on the socialisation or the conditions or was the flower fairy in the air excuses, excuses. When someone decides to own a dog they must also take responsibility for it, if this lady was unaware of the nature of this breed she was not suitable to own it, therefore it is negligent to assume that because it has never shown signs of aggression it never will! Lets not also skip around the fact they escaped unnoticed is totally unacceptable, the outcome was bad enough but it could have been much worse. Don't blame Jemima here, I often don't agree with her but this isn't her fault if those in the dog world don't like it smarten up your acts, its long overdue if your houses really were in order she wouldn't have anything to report, what's worse folks is she could post this kinda stuff daily see how much you still haven't done!

      Delete
    2. Beth, I wasn´t entirely comfortable either with the original version of Jemima´s post. I do feel, though, that the heart of the matter is modern urban/suburban Westerners making a hobby of keeping powerful animals for an entirely different purpose than their original one, and having too little respect or even knowledge of their muscular and mental capacity.

      However - yes, there is a test that does a fairly good job of assessing the anxious/defensive/aggressive potential of a dog. Agreed, no test can be safely managed in a way that will provoke maximum anger and defensiveness in any large breed, but the Mentality Assessment demanded for the Working Breeds (Boxer, Collie Rough/Smooth, GSD, Rottie etc) here isn´t that bad. You describe and measure startle (fright/anger) reactions to sudden fright, but also to slow approaching threat in the shape of two ghostlike figures with staring eyes closing in on dog and owner. Is the dog unsure, stands behind the owner, whimpers? Does it stand its ground? When the figures come closer, will dog snarl and step forward tail high to warn them off? Will dog attempt mock attack or does it go for the figures in full earnest? When figures take off apparell and owner steps up to them and starts chatting, will dog make contact too and accept them as just ordinary people? Gives you some very useful hints as to what a large dog will actually do when running into unexpected people in the street or in the woods on a walk! But again, I agree - it doesn´t tell you everything about what that dog would do, if it perceived its owner/puppy/friend as being invaded in the dog´s own home, nor can one arrange for a situation where a furious dog suddenly meets screaming people trying to run.

      Delete
    3. Bodil, I definitely agree temperament tests are very good things. The thing is, though, that a dog who aces might behave entirely differently when faced with a real threat; dogs can often tell acting and the lack of fear of their owners is a give away; this is really a test of how the dog handles unusual situations as opposed to the property being threatened.

      Bull Mastiffs were originally bred to pursue and hold until someone arrived. I'm guessing a dog who backed off if someone screamed and pulled away was not really up to the task. I guess my big issue is that Jemima rightly says that a big problem with showing is that dogs are no longer necessarily bred with their original purpose in mind. But in this case, the dog sort of did exactly what it should have done back when it was developed, but then got into a small crowd and unfortunately went after the wrong people. The grabbing and holding part is "correct" behavior for the dog, though.

      Delete
    4. beth, of course any dog just "might" respond in one way during a test - and in a completely different way if faced with an extremely frightening or provocative event IRL. However, the Rogh&Smooth Collie Club in Sweden is currently introducing a new method for breeders to evaluate mental traits in dogs: breeding index, based on Mentality Assessment outcome. You group together families of dogs, see how they come out in the MA tests - remember, they´re mandatory for registering puppies in our working breeds including the Collie - and then add them up to work out an expected "litter index" for a planned mating. Works like the same strategy for dressage and show-jumping horses. In order to evaluate reliability of the MA tests, Collie owners were sent questionaires asking what they thought of the ways in which their dogs behaved in ordinary circumstances. It turned out that dogs showing fearfulness, or great social interest, or curiosity or playfulness in the MA test, actually showed much the same traits in everyday life. Aggression, it turns out, is a bit different - possibly for the reason that it´s not possible, and not desirable, to stage an event that would serve as ultimate anger provokation in test procedure.

      Delete
  45. I'm assuming this dog had been evaluated, and was likely not a show dog.

    http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/18741860/police-dog-attacks-walmart-worker

    This one probably never won at Crufts:

    http://gazette.mampam.com/index.php/78-news/153-escaped-police-dog-attacks-glossopians

    Police dog mistakes playing 8 year old for suspect because the kid was running:

    http://www.vindy.com/news/2011/nov/27/police-defend-k--in-attack-on--year-old/

    Police dog mistakenly attacks 65 year old man out for a stroll, rather than the suspect he was chasing:

    http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/07/06/maplewood-man-accidentally-attacked-by-police-dog/

    Police dog attacks jogger while being loaded into car:

    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/policereports/article/Stamford-police-dog-attacks-Greenwich-jogger-1376724.php

    I could go on. There are tons of them. I've not seen a blog about a single one of these dogs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You raise a very interesting aspect, Beth; it seems Jemima is happy to ignore newspaper reports of dogs biting innocent people unless there's reference to the KC or any aspect of dog shows. That's not unbiased reporting - that's a personal vendetta.

      Delete
    2. Or perhaps it's more simply that when the KC and KC breeders maintain they're breeding the best dogs in the world that I want them to be doing everything in their power to make sure that's genuinely true.

      We already know that trotting round a ring for a few minutes in a beauty competition is not much much of a judge of the genetic fitness of a dog - and the point I'm making here is that it is often not much of a judge of a dog's stability/temperament either.

      Temperament tests would surely be a very good thing? They would be a way of raising the game for KC dogs, of setting them apart from others. See Bodil's post for how they work in Sweden. They are quite demanding and are taken seriously there.

      Jemima

      Delete
    3. Jemima, they are not just taken seriously. For the working breeds, the test is mandatory if puppies from the dog and bitch are to be KC registered and nearly all purebred dogs here are KC-registered. Dogs don´t have to come out brilliant or even complete the test, but whatever the outcome is, it is recorded. And those records are public! So any well-informed prospectuive buyer of a Collie, a Rottie, a GSD etc puppy can look the parents up in open KC registers and view the records of the puppy´s parents. As the KC itself points out, basic temperamental traits (fearfulness, social interest, curiosity) are comparatively strongly inheritable.

      Are the tests quite demanding? No more so than walking down a busy city street, I´d say. I wouldn´t dare buy a GSD, let alone a Rottie, with parents who were terrified thriugh the test - and that would be for the sake of that dog´s environment: a terrified dog will eventually bite. (I wouldn´t buy a Collie from parents terrified through the test, either, but that would be for the dog´s sake.) So will breeders here breed fom dogs with a not-so-good or incomplete test record? Yep, unfortunately... but of course, they are finding it a bit more difficult to sell the pups.

      Delete
    4. Jemima, all US police dogs that I am aware of come from working lines, and almost all of them are imported. Usually working line GSD's or Belgian Malinois.

      My point was that it is actually common even for working line dogs to mistake someone for a target when they are in working mode. So YES temperament tests are a good idea, and also they have virtually nothing to do with this story.

      Dogs are not remote-controlled. If you have dogs that are selected to engage targets, they will sometimes get the wrong one. You own dogs. What would yours do if someone took out a windowpane from the outside in the middle of the night, say? And if your dogs then chased that person and accidentally grabbed someone else instead?

      The best owner in the world, with the most appropriate-tempered dogs and the most careful set up can have things go bad.

      And if this was MY dog that I had to put down because someone tried to break into my property and things went south, and you tried to make hay out of it, I would be deeply hurt and very angry.

      Delete
    5. Hear hear, Beth. Well said.

      Delete
  46. As much as I agree with your statements regarding temperament. What about all of these dogs that get locked in a kitchen for 8 hours a day then are expected to walk to heel on a lead and not react to a passing dog on the 15 minute walk to the corner shop where they're tied up outside, taken home, and left in the garden....

    ReplyDelete
  47. You might be interested to know that the Welsh Government is currently consulting over plans to introduce legislation that effectivly means any dog 'attacking' any person inside or outside their property would be at fault, irrespective of the fact it could be a burglar that has kicked the dog or a mugger attacking the owner. Owners could be subject to control orders if someone has reason to feel their dog could be dangerous and they will have to prove the dog is not a danger to people or protected animals - including cats. Owners may also be guilty if their dog injures another dog, even if it was defending itself against an attack. This is legislation that contains very little in the way of mitigating circumstances so people in Wales will probably need to have their dogs muzzled 24/7 just in case!! The consultation closes on 1st March so there is still time if you want to respond. It's open to Non-Welsh residents too. I can't put a link but details are under Open Consulatations on the Wales Government website.

    Howwever, it appears some people believe a dog should never bite/attack a human under any circumstances so perhaps we should start thinking about breeding toothless dogs next(!)

    Jemima, well done for responding and editing the original post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/environmentandcountryside/121123controlofdogs/?status=open&lang=en

      Delete
  48. IMO, dogs just sometimes kill people, no matter how well trained or socialized they are. They're living creatures, not robots. Even working dogs have mauled and killed people. It's the risk you take when owning a large, potentially lethal animal.

    I know people like to think *their* dog could never do anything like this and is just a harmless furry baby, but you never know. That's why I keep my dog securely locked up. I can't pretend he isn't capable of killing when he has the size and teeth to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This whole issue is like opening a can of worms and if dog behaviour is legistlated, and not enforced by people that know dog behaviour, it will give anyone the right to seize and destroy your pet for maybe even as much as barking too much.
    WTF is becoming of this world? Look at the whole Lennox issue seized and destroyed because of his looks... disgusting!

    ReplyDelete
  50. JH says "perhaps it's more simply that when the KC and KC breeders maintain they're breeding the best dogs in the world that I want them to be doing everything in their power to make sure that's genuinely true" well what about targeting those who dont breed even half decent one, I see on the BBC latest reality programme a litter of white boxers being sold, did the owner do any health tests? temprement test, whats the COI for them, insured ? Health certified from the vets? what checks did they do of the new owners and where they might go? no but of course that would be too tough a job for you to do a blog entry on that as there is no mention of the KC/Crufts or recorded pedigrees you could attack, just the worse way to breed and sell dogs endorsed by the BBC, and your turn a blind eye.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The entire point of this blog is that there will always be people doing it wrong... but if you are claiming that you are producing the best and handing out certificates to say this, these shouldn't be misleading. The breeders need to ACTUALLY be doing the best for the breed, dog and new owners. They need to listen to science and evidence and not wrap themselves up in traditions.

      Delete
  51. Working dogs were developed for a purpose and were selectively bred for a collection of working traits/instincts. These traits were balanced to provide the appropriate reaction to stimuli and the appropriate control of reactions to other stimuli. The problem with breeding working dogs for something other than the working traits (like show breeding, pet breeding, sport breeding) is that the dogs retain some of the working traits while other traits may be lost. Now the dogs no longer have the desired balance of traits that the breed was developed to have and evaluated for prior to breeding. The dogs may have lost some of the desired reactions to stimuli and/or lost some of the control of reactions to stimuli. The changes in the genetics coupled with incomplete and appropriate training for that working breed can and will lead to inappropriate reactions to stimuli.

    ReplyDelete
  52. PipedreamFarm, while I agree with the overall philosophy, did you read my many links (and there are TONS more out there) of working police dogs grabbing the wrong target? These dogs are not only selected for working traits, but also highly trained on an ongoing basis.

    My concern is that it leads into the incorrect assumption that "normal" dogs don't bite and if one does, something went wrong in breeding, training, or handling. That is not the case and dogs bred to bite and hold are going to do so more often than dogs who are bred NOT to take a strong hold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course working dogs bred and trained for work are more likely to display the reactions to stimuli that is part of the breed and breeding program.

      The problem comes when one starts with dogs from a working breed and totally ignores these dogs instinctual reactions to stimuli when making breeding selections. One will have no idea how the offspring may or may not react to these stimuli and if the reactions will be appropriate. One could inadvertently make a cross that produces a very strong and uncontrollable reaction to stimuli and not know where it came from because the instincts of the sire and dam were never evaluated. This reaction may require a very specific stimuli that is not encountered within the typical pet lifestyle.

      Delete
    2. Beth, you listed many cases where working bred and trained dogs were not correct in their response to stimuli. These were likely single events for the dogs that had many correct responses to stimuli. Like people, dogs are not going to be 100% correct while working. I suggest you research the accuracy of other working dogs (bomb detection, drug detection, etc.) to get a sense of what can be expected in terms of accuracy (correct response to stimuli). The bottom line is, the more times a working dog is asked to respond to stimuli the more times it could be incorrect. You shouldn't be comparing the number of times a working dog is incorrect to the number of times a non-working dog (working bred and trained) is incorrect; but the percentages.

      The concept of evaluating working breeds (breeds developed with instincts for a job) for working traits prior to breeding is no different than the concept of testing breeds for any other genetic traits prior to breeding. Breeds have genetically controlled traits that run in the breeds be it instincts, diseases, color, coat length, eye color, etc.; if one does not evaluate the sire and dam for these traits prior to breeding one will not know what traits the offspring may carry until the genes produce the traits. Evaluating for color, coat lengths, ear set, etc. is easy and these are typically controlled by one or two genes. Evaluating for genetic diseases (typically a single gene) is getting easier as more genetic tests are developed. Evaluating for polygenetic traits is much more difficult in the absences of genetic tests. But if one does not evaluate for these genetically controlled traits there is no way to know what one can expect in the offspring.

      For some working breeds the unknown status of working traits is not a public safety issue (how "birdy", pointing style, hardness of mouth during fetch, etc. in gun dogs) for other working breeds there can be a public safety issue (territoriality, aggression, self-control of or during biting, etc.).

      Delete
    3. @ PipedreamFarm:

      "For some working breeds the unknown status of working traits is not a public safety issue (how "birdy", pointing style, hardness of mouth during fetch, etc. in gun dogs) for other working breeds there can be a public safety issue (territoriality, aggression, self-control of or during biting, etc.)."

      Yep, my local shelter is in a city with a small, somewhat isolationist Koreatown (or Little Seoul, or whatever...). We ended up having to learn about Jindos despite only handling a few per year because they're a lot like Akitas or Shiba Inus in terms of temperament, but with a very strong independent streak (yes, even compared to the Akitas and Shibas!) and an incredible prey drive, which combined with the general state of neglect these dogs usually arrive in means a dog that has to be fostered before placement and an extra-strict screening policy is needed.
      The problem is most people think Dog=Lab, and unlike Labs some breeds cannot ever be trusted off-leash for any reason, are inappropriate if you already own cats, rabbits, or toy-breed dogs, might not tolerate children, and so on. Jindos share all the above traits with Greyhounds, however while a Greyhound who doesn't like children simply avoids them, a Jindo is going to bite. Good luck explaining that to somebody still stuck in the Dog=Lab mindset!

      Delete
    4. PipeDream, as far as I can tell this mastiff also only had one mistake; there were no other accounts I am aware of where he behaved aggressively.

      Moreover, I am not naive enough to think that all those game keepers dogs that made up the ancestry of bull mastiffs were very carefully evaluated to make sure they never reacted to the "wrong" stimuli.

      Look, I'm a huge proponent of breeding dogs for actual working traits instead of looks, and if you read my other posts on this blog you will see that most are supportive of Jemima.

      But in the case of a dog bred to guard property, the job is the same now as it was 300 years ago: the dog guards the property.

      My whole point is that YES these dogs are inherently more likely to be a threat than many other breeds, and we should question whether or not they have an appropriate place in modern crowded society where they need to make decisions every single day about whether or not strangers are a threat. Too many opportunities for error, with serious consequences when you have a dog bred to engage who weighs 100 pounds....

      Everything you say makes some degree of sense but the problem is there is absolutely no indication that it applies to this case. This dog does not have a history of having a bad temperament. So if a working GSD makes one mistake, it's a matter of percentages, but if a show bred guarding dog makes one mistake it's an example of poor breeding practices? That seems like a double standard to me.

      Delete
    5. Beth, you're still not all the way there. The propensity for a reaction to stimuli is already present in dogs of a working breed. If you want to breed these reactions out, you MUST evaluate each dog's reaction to these stimuli as part of the breeding program only selecting those dogs that don’t have the reactions to stimuli. You cannot simply ignore the genes already present and hope that since you're no longer actively selecting for these reactions that they will total go away on their own. Essentially, you must develop a new breed that looks like the working breed but does not have the undesired working traits, actively selecting for looks and ACTIVELY selecting dogs without the working traits.

      Did the breeder in this case actively select dogs of this breed that did not have the working traits or did this breeder ignore these already present genes hoping they would not be present because she did not actively select for them?

      It is exactly the same as genetic health defects; if you don’t actively select against these traits they will not go away on their own. In the case of working traits, not selecting for them will likely yield dogs with subpar working traits.

      Delete
    6. Annie Macfarlane9 March 2013 00:46

      Beth, police dogs are trained to chase criminals and hold them...the police dogs were doing what they were trained to do....they just got the wrong target. That's more about bad handling than the dog is it not? It's not really the same situation.....

      Delete
  53. Deed not breed......of course. But it's far easier or most people to control or fight off an aggressive Yorkshire Terrier than a Bull Mastiff in full blown prey drive.

    Some dog breeds are just not appropriate for the vast majority of pet owners, particularly as most owners seem to be clueless about canine behaviour. The distinction beiween aggression and predatory behaviour is so important. Socialisation throughout the dog's life, exercise and appropriate activities to redirect prey drives is absolutely essential to the health of working breeds kept as pets. And essential for the dogs if they are to be considered safe in our society. Why on earth would you want a Bull Mastiff as a pet anyway, let alone parade around some silly show ring! Pathetic.... It's really a question of appropriate breeding for health and temperament again

    ReplyDelete
  54. another comment for the confederacy of dunces to plague this blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really, it takes a dunce to know one doesn't it Anon?

      I guess the laws of the physical universe you happen to inhabit are far too complicated for you to understand. Do you have any comprehension that the mass of an animal will have direct consequences on the handler's ability and skill in dealing with the animal when it is full aroused? Not to mention the breeding and temperament. Think about it - smaller dog = less mass than bigger dog. No? Still too difficult!?!

      OK then. Imagine walking along quite happily minding your own business and you happen to get charged by a Chihuahua who is fully aroused and tries to maul your leg. Substitute the said Chihuahua for an Akita - fully aroused who charges you and also tries to maul your leg. To keep some control in this hypothetical experiment, let's say that both dogs have not had sufficient exercise for the day, are poorly trained and have been cooped up in the back yard in a cage barking for hours......

      Go figure...

      Only this morning I saw a fairly young women giggling as she allowed her leashed German Shepherd to pull her towards a smaller dog. Clearly clueless, she was not reading either of the dog's body language involved. Her Shepherd was displaying predatory behaviour - he wasn't being friendly.

      I see this sort of stuff ALL THE TIME. It scares me that people have responsibility for these guarding breeds and can be clueless when handling. Poorly managed and misunderstood these breeds in particular can be like a loaded gun in the wrong hands. Yet any idiot can own a dog.

      I have a qualification in the science of dog behaviour - they are fascinating animals. Some dogs clearly deserve more educated human beings as their guardians and protectors.

      Delete
    2. Annie Macfarlane9 March 2013 00:48

      completely agree Anon 10.31

      Delete
  55. I understand how such an event prompts scrutiny of all parties. The desire for answers is great, though really all results are debatable. Would temperament tests be any more definitive? Maybe. Or rather, sometimes ;) From my experience participating in tests, they mostly look for behavioral extremes, which only sometimes present in the limited window of the test. They are to be regarded as a snapshot in time, and -at least in the states- have garnered enough controversy to often be re-appropriated as "behavioral evaluations."
    Here, the terminology is meant to reflect that the heritable temperament of a dog not the only factor. Evaluators are really looking at some unknown combination of a dog's temperament and environmentally-influenced personality at one point in the dog's life. Temperament is thought to be fixed while personality is thought to be more malleable. Many tests don't yield any extreme results, and in those cases, I personally would have to see the dog tested multiple times w/ multiple evaluators in order to feel as though temperament had been remotely nailed down.
    Subjectivity is a big factor: third party evaluators who, try as they might to remain objective, are affected by bias and safety concerns during the potentially dangerous situation of closely interacting w/ an unknown dog. Evaluators are human too, ones who don't want to get bit.

    Regardless, is any single evaluation helpful, given that extremes like aggression can show? Absolutely better than nothing if you are going to assume the responsibility of a dog you need to later turn over to the public. Whoever takes the dog knows that strangers "messed with it" for a certain amount of time and that nothing drastic happened. (Another factor to note: since there is no global standardized test, the type of test done will impact on pass/fail...sometimes. In the Hovawart link temperament faq, for example, it implies the owner is present which would likely affect some parts of the tests... sometimes. )
    I would like to think that a half-observant breeder, who has spent significant time with a dog, would be aware of any tendencies towards extremes as would show in an eval. (Wishful thinking?!?) But knowing that a dog would at some point be subjected to an eval perhaps would encourage breeders to up their objectivity, observations, and therefore temperament criteria of their breeding stock (which I did read as the goal of the edited post) though there are no guarantees... in any capacity... Still it is worthy conversation, at least in that we should ask ourselves what we do w/ our dogs based on ever-limited information.
    respectfully,
    another liz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. a bunch of gibberish.. by the way you don"t "get bit' you "get bitten"

      Delete
  56. I rarely read the comments on this blog, because it seems that some people have made it their mission to deny everything that is posted, in spite of the evidence. With this post, I thought that surely everyone could agree. Not so. It reminds me of a Native American proverb "You cannot wake someone who is pretending to be asleep".

    If this breeder, and others like her who have been fortunate enough not to happen upon three innocent victims, cannot handle her dogs, then she should not have them. End of story. This is likely a classic case of someone who chose what sort of dog they would get, mutt or purebred, based on what their ego needed, not on what their own lifestyle, personality, etc. would recommend.

    This breeder should be banned from breeding for life, as she clearly cannot judge temperament accurately. Any remaining dogs on her premises should be immediately sterilized at her expense, and muzzled when off of her property. If the Kennel Club had any guts, they would have banned her from Crufts for life.

    Let us not in our haste to defend the indefensible forget the real victims: the three little girls and their families.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. more crap from people who know nothing about dogs.. or people, speaking of bans.. .. can we possibly get these people banned from the internet
      ban her from Crufts for life? OH NO MR BILL not that..

      Delete
    2. Actually, I am very educated about dogs and people, and care for both, hence my utter disdain for those who would harm either for the sake of their ego. It may interest you to know that I also am educated in genetics... science based genetics, not just pedigree reading knowledge.

      The next time you decide to bait or flame someone, try to use logic rather than sensationalism. You will find it more persuasive.

      I leave you this salient quote:

      "If an offense come out of the truth, better is it that the offense come than that the truth be concealed." -Thomas Hardy

      Delete
  57. Raising animals who require strict management of their prey drives for the show ring seems to be such a waste of time and effort. Where is the benefit to society in doing this? How does this benefit the welfare of the animals being 'shown'? How can this be responsible breeding given the temperamant of some dogs, not to mention the fact that some breeds are physically dropping to bits. Health and temperamant are the two most important things to consider surely in a civilised society. Is this actually refelected in the Breed Standards the KC pride themselves on? If not, why not? I seem to remember that last year's Crufts champion isn't allowed to walk outside in case the dog dirties it's coat or something equally ludicrous. Poor animal.

    The whole point of showing dogs seems to be about the human ego and how the aesthetic of a dog reflects on the human showing it. It simply baffles me, but each to their own...

    'Status' dogs are not simply limited to the disenfranchised young male who struts around the estate with his Staffy. Plenty of people with other high status accessories such as Range Rovers like to throw open the back of their car doors and let their Retrievers, Huskies et al run amok. Dogs are an accessory and a status symbol for lots of people. The Dog's Trust has recently had to take in a lot more toy breeds from young women who seriously thought that a Chihuahua in their designer handbag would make them look good. Once they realise that the dog is actually a sentient being with very real needs then they change their minds.

    "You cannot wake someone who is pretending to be asleep" seems to sum this extremely sad and utterly unnecessary situation up well".
    It's an inconveniant truth.

    ReplyDelete
  58. i know that something needs to be done with the problems associated with pedigree dogs, but i am more worried, that the genetic testing that is being done could very well lead to the extinction of dogs. by removing these genes from the genome, you also remove the benefits that some of these genes have inthe heterozygous state.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the more reason to open the books - dilute homozygous hazards, increase diversity, lifespans, and promote a range of type that includes less exaggerated features and less of the stringent uniformity that can only be achieved by linebreeding.

      Delete
  59. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  60. What makes me feel sad about this case is that everyone gets tarred with the same brush. I own large breed dogs myself they aren't a threat to children or other dogs of any breed. I feel that the dogs should have been socilaised with children from a young age, so they could get used to kids playing and screaming. Then the dogs wouldn't have reacted to the childrens fear or screams and went into prey drive. It's so unfair to say all Bullmastiffs are like this because they aren't they are loving family loyal pets. My own dogs have escaped but they have run up to people and waggled their tail even if the people have been screaming. These dogs haven't been used as Game Keepers dogs for decades a responsible breeder would have bred any aggression towards people out it is a complete no no!! such a tragic situation and the breed will suffer because of it.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I met both of the dogs that were put to sleep. The female was the same age as my own male bullmastiff and was very friendly. The male seemed fine too. Both dogs were in the house at the time. We purchased a pup off her from this bloodline and he is the daftest dog you could meet. I have owned 3 Bullmastiffs and all have been good natured. I don't see that the breeder can be held responsible if her fence has been tampered with. Bullmastiffs are very strong but I find it hard to believe that they could pick up a child and shake it. I also would think that a dog that is regularly shown is used to people and other dogs. The dogs are intimidating to other dogs because of their size but never have my Bullmastiffs shown aggression back. Obviously people who aren't familiar with the breed will perhaps be intimidated by their size so obviously a child would be wouldn't they? Nobody wants a child to get hurt do they? How many humans commit crime and reoffend. A dog can't speak up can it all it has is it's teeth. Nobody I repeat nobody will ever know what truly happened that day. Two dogs lost their lives and children were hurt because somebody was upto no good that day but I doubt that they are sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Well said Sharon

    ReplyDelete