March 17, 2009

Patricia McConnell on breed recognition and breed-based behavior predictions

The most excellent veterinary behaviorist/trainer/author Patricia McConnell [on the left with one of her working border collies] has a most excellent blog, and she reports here on the recent IFAAB [Interdisciplinary Forum on Applied Animal Behavior] meetings in Tucson.

"All this is good ammunition against breed bans… who can be sure a dog is a “pit bull” anyway? This study has the potential of providing good science that can be used to fight breed bans, which I am adamantly against."

There were two very interesting talks about breed recognition and breed-based behavior predictions. Victoria Voith, one of the first board certified veterinary behaviorists in the country, enrolled us in a study she is doing on breed identification. Given that breed bans are based on, well, breed identification, she and others are gathering breed identifications [...] Most of the dogs shown came up as mixes of mixes: 25% this, 12.5 % that.Very few came out as 50% of one breed and 50% of another.

I’ve always wondered why people tend to describe mixed breed dogs as the offspring of two pure bred parents, and I’ve long believed that it is VERY difficult to guess parentage of a mixed breed dog. I came to that conclusion after reading Scott and Fuller’s study, and looking at the photos they have of some of their crosses (beagle/cocker for example.) If you look at all their photos, some of the pups look like their father, some their mother, and others look like just about nothing at all (or another breed altogether.) Dogs are so structurally labile, surely it is truly hard to predict exactly what a mix is going to look like.
Read the whole post here.

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