There are good dogs of every breed, but are you still prejudiced?

freezetagFebruary 10, 2010

I took my dog to the park Sunday. She initially tried to play with a dog (fox terrier maybe?) she met there, but then became scared (not sure why exactly, I didn't see him DO anything other than bark, but she was definitely afraid of him).

Went back yesterday. She saw another dog there (a completely different dog than before), put her tail between her legs and tried to run back to the parking lot. She has always loved playing with other dogs, so I really hated to see this!

The other dog was playing ball with his owner, and appeared to be very well-behaved, so I brought my dog over and asked the owner if his dog was friendly. So the two dogs played, and all went well, but the owner said that his dog, being a pit bull, didn't have many opportunities to interact with other dogs, because people tended to steer clear of them.

I have to admit, I didn't really think about what kind of dog it was when I went over, and I was sort of uneasy after his owner mentioned it. Is that completely irrational? Can you form an opinion of a dog solely on the way he acts, or should breed be a factor at all?

My dog really did have a good time, though!

Here is a link that might be useful: Snowy dog

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All dogs of any breed are not the same. There are good and bad.

I tend to be more aware of the possibility of a problem with certain breeds. That awareness is not just because of the breed, however. The awareness is just as much about the owner/handler of the individual dog as it is about the breed of the dog.

Pit bulls are a good example. There are so many different definitions of pit bull and hundreds of mixes. More so than any other breed. That means there are many more possibilities for an individual dog to be different.

That area does not exist for most other breeds. Mixed Dobermans seldom look like a pure Dobie. I have a mixed GSD whose head/face does not look GSD, while his body is all GSD.

I had a Lab/pit mix. He was all pit looking. The difference was his size(much taller) and coloring(black/white). His temperment was all pit and no lab.He was totally predictable when under control. In fact, the GSD mix was Alpha. One short growl put the pit belly up and quivering. My 2 year old granddaughter could point and grunt and the pit mix went down submissively.

The problem was when the pit mix got loose. He became very dangerous. I could not catch/control him. He attacked anything he could before I would run him to exhaustion. Once I got his collar/neck, he reverted instantly back into the obedient dog.

Have seen attack chihuahuas. Not as inherently dangerous, but a bite can still hurt.

So, my caution is as much owner driven as it is breed driven. Loose dogs get a different attitude than leashed/fenced dogs. And I seldom believe an owner whos says "Oh, don't worry, Fluffy won't bite." I can guarantee that Fluffy will bite---due to owners lack of training/knowledge.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 3:56PM
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Ten Commandments of Pit Bull Ownership

Thou shalt NEVER trust thy Pit Bull not to fight

Thou shalt contain thy Pit Bull securely when not supervised by an adult

Thou shalt NEVER leave thy adult Pit Bull alone and unsupervised with another dog

Thou SHALT attend obedience classes most faithfully with thy Pit Bull

Thou SHALT keep thy Pit Bull socialized with ALL KINDS of people

Thy Pit Bull wilt NEVER be allowed off-leash in a public place

Thy Pit Bull wilt NEVER be allowed to roam free in thy neighborhood, EVER!

Thou SHALT take thy well trained Pit Bull out in public and show him/her off - on leash for good breed PR!

Thy Pit Bull shalt go forth into the world as an ambassador of the pit bull breed


I would have to say 99.9% of all pitt bulls out there are great dogs. They get a bad rap because they tend to attract irresponsible owners. Admittedly you changed your demeanor AFTER learning the pup was a pitt... pups pick up on energy and things can turn because a person is not comfortable in the situation. Did you know Pitt bulls are one of the best breeds for search and rescue??
The trick to understanding the temprament of ANY breed of dog is to educate yourself.
I look at it this way a dog is first a dog, then a breed of dog.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 4:36PM
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I'm not predjudice against any dog. I'm in agreement with what Handymac said.

From my own experience, I use to take my big lug of a St. Bernard to the dog park. He's as happy and go lucky as it gets. On three different occasions he was attacked by three different boxers. All three went for his throat. I was baffled as to why someone would bring aggressive dogs to the dog park and surprised all three were boxers. I love boxers but these guys didn't like my dog. Sadly, we don't go to the dog park anymore.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 4:44PM
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don't know if I've just been lucky or if this means something, but the only pit bulls that have caused me any trepidation at all were the ones that were penned or chained.

*but* I would never trust *any* medium-sized to biggish dog not to realize that a 4-year-old peddling his tricycle in the opposite direction, for instance, was a human being & not prey.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 6:42PM
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I like to think that I'm not a breedist, but in all honesty having been in the veterinary profession for over 15 years, I have to admit that I don't trust any cocker spaniel until they EARN it. Dogs of other breeds I trust to be good until they prove otherwise, but not cockers.

About 50% of my patients are pit bulls, and 99% of them are sweet dogs. You'll always have 1 or so a month that is a total twit, but they are generally obedient. Most of the cockers are evil little land sharks, but I do have some perfectly behaved patients too. Unfortunately I just had to euthanize the sweetest cocker ever. He was awesome :(

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 7:28PM
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Poor dog...

I know we sign up for the end when we get them in the begining, but the loss of something that has brought joy is always so sad.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 7:39PM
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I try not to be prejudiced against certain breeds, but some make me more reserved until I get to know them. I've mentioned before I've had Schnauzers for over thirty years. Two of them were the most lain-back, intelligent and gentle dogs you'd ever want to meet. The last one we had, I trusted with other people about as far as his leash would stretch. I loved him dearly, and we gave him a good life and he was a faithful and fun dog for us. But, that did not extend past his very close circle. He was not to be trusted with my g'children, and there were uncomfortable moments with him and our other dogs for many years.

He was a victim of his breeding, and I suspect he was his own g'pa. He was a gift to us from two of our children, and I think the one doing the picking wasn't 'up on' what to look for in a breeder. He was beautiful. He had a good pedigree. He was neurotic and when under stress, his good sense went out the window and his poor little brain hot-wired into his teeth. He passed away at the ripe old age of sixteen, and the only person who ever had to be treated for a dog-bite from him was me. LOL.

I think situations can happen to all breeds when their procreation is profit driven and they're the dog of choice for that particular decade.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 11:50PM
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I know, Sylvia, although I'm glad my dog is more cautious than before, it broke my heart to see her so timid/fearful of a strange dog. I'm glad that the interaction with the pit bull went well (and I really hope that if I felt uneasy, it didn't show too much. He was a very well-mannered, gentle dog - way more so than mine). Hopefully we'll see him again - his owner could probably give me some tips on getting my dog to "Come" RELIABLY.

And Savannah was back to her usual wild abandon when playing with the neighbor dog.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 6:43AM
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We have never had a purebred dog, all of ours came from the shelter and after working with them, all were lovers. However, we had to work with them. A golden retriever/St. Bernard mix, and a collie/St. Bernard mix--big dogs, great with children, very sweet tempered.
The nastiest dog I ever met was my sister's toy poodle. Bit her, bit the children, bit anybody it could get its mouth on. It was not the dog's fault--it was teased, not trained, and had no idea what was right and what was wrong behaviour. As a result, I don't really trust small dogs! I like some small dogs, will pet them, but I don't trust them!
There should be a test for prospective pit bull owners. If you flunk the test, you don't get a pit bull.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 10:41AM
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Meghane, back in the early 60's, when I worked for a really caring vet, the only dog I ever saw him lose his temper over was a black cocker. And back then, cockers were a very popular breed, but we could see evidence of trouble ahead in the area of disposition because of breeders. And that was before all the hip problems with GSD's.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 5:10PM
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There should be a test for prospective pit bull owners. If you flunk the test, you don't get a pit bull.

LOL...........boy, that's a good idea. When I started looking for a new dog after our last one died, I went to the pound first. I did that because the shelter is picky about which dogs they'll take and some good dogs never make it out of the pound before they are put down. The animal control officer had a beautful pit bull laying at his feet behind the desk and tried to get me to consider it. If it weren't for the problems I'd have had with my home insurance company, I may have considered it. There are many pit bulls and pit mixes at the shelters. Most of the savy shelters try to pass them off as something else, but they are easy enough to spot. Most of them came from sections of town where they're chained out behind a house or showed off for awhile until the novelty has worn off and then dumped, or picked up by animal control and somebody has to actually buy a license for them and bail them out.......which the don't have and won't do. Yes...........prospective owners should be screened.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 5:39PM
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I keep thinking about this question. There is no such thing as a bad breed or a good breed. There are breeds that have inherit weaknesses and those that have inherit strengths. Some people choose to take advantage of those strengths or weaknesses. That mind set is how so many dog breeds came into being...smaller sized dogs bred with smaller sized dogs made Chihahuas. Dogs that had a knack for doing a certain thing were singled out for that thing and bred with other dogs with the same traits...

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 12:08AM
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I don't consider it prejudiced to recognize that particular breeds or types of dogs tend to have certain innate characteristics. I think it's sensible to acknowledge it and look out for it.

Terriers are prone to being dog aggressive, so I would exercise extra caution with my dogs around any terrier. I am also cautious with other assertive, dominant breeds like German shepherds, doberman pinschers, rotties, etc.

That doesn't mean I assume they're all bad or that all other dogs can't be a problem, too. It just means I would take less for granted with some breeds even if things appeared to be going well between the dogs.

I have a six pound toy fox terrier and a six month old maltese mix. They get along very well most of the time, but the tft tends to become overly aggressive at times when they're play fighting and I never leave them alone together for that reason. She's a terrier and I think she's just going to have that tendency to get carried away even though she's as sweet as could be most of the time and completely submissive with me.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 8:35AM
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I had an attack Chihuahua mix that was part Cairn Terrier. She was the most aggressive dog I have ever owned. All 8 pounds of her would take on anything, even a horse. She even tried to bite me. She got along ok with our first terrier mix dog but didn't trust her with any other dogs or kids without supervision. We gave her a good life for 18.5 years but because of her I would never get a Chihuahua mix again.

Right now I have a Dachshund, which have bad reputations, and she is the sweetest most placid lap dog I have ever met in my 58 years of owning dogs. We call her our Rag Doll dog. You can do anything with her and she will go along with it. So you can't strictly go by breeds, each individual has their own personality. We got the Chihuahua mix when she was a tiny puppy so it was hard to tell what her personality would be. That is why I would never get a puppy again. The Dachshund was 1.5 - 2 years old when we got her, so knew her personality.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:24PM
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re: little dogs

I nearly got my toes bitten off one fine summer evening when I tried to "save" a Shih Tzu that was sashaying down the middle of a busy street.

freezetag, if your dog is sensitive & responsive, she likely "got her feelings hurt" by the dog that barked at her, & then she saw the other dog too quickly after that.

She'll get back to her old self.

I guess we all have some kind of dog that makes us hesitate;

I my own self, given the choice of facing a friendly-looking pit bull or a friendly-looking herding-breed dog, would probably take the pit bull.

& that's just based on my experiences with individual dogs of those breeds or mixes of those breeds.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:53PM
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i honestly do try not to be prejudiced... but i really can't help it. Or at least that is my excuse.. After those years at the shelter, i utterly dreaded seeing a toy "ANY BREED" COME IN. Uggghh.. I swear I would rather stick my hand down a chow's throat than deal with an 8 yr old toy poodle, cocker, you name it. It's just a "bite invitation".

OK... all that being said, there really are good and bad in every breed. Honestly thought, the first thought I use to have with a toy breed turn in is, "ok which grandchild did it bite and why?"

One of my favorite dogs ever there (aside from my own big monsters) was a blind and partially deaf 15 yr old extremely matted shih tzu. I was NOT a "little dog fan" at that point. It took all day and two people in varying sessions just to shave off those matts. We called him "old man". For some reason he took to me, and i would nudge him with my foot to wake him and take him out for his "relief" sessions (no one else there would volunteer he was so cranky). I even let him stay behind the desk with me every day.

Apparently he could see shadows, and could stagger a few feet to relieve himself (i didn't even bother with a leash at that point). I would wave my arms and a leg in the sunlight to let him know where i was, and he would stagger back and bump my leg.

One day he decided he wanted in my lap, and just did it. I didn't dare say no.. lol and he couldn't have heard me if i had. Turned out he got adopted by a great couple of guys with an apartment and 3 other shih tzus. The couple stopped by the following year to tell me how he'd blossomed. I think they named him Bernard - but he'll still be "old man" to me. I'd love to see him again if he's still alive just to see if he remembers me.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 3:12AM
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I know many, many, different dogs. All breeds and all mixes. From all different backgrounds and situations. The pit bulls I know are some of the sweetest dogs I've ever met.

I hate to say it but I am prejudiced when it comes to some dogs. Chows. I find them to be unpredictable and many don't get along with other animals, including other dogs and people. Irregardless of their backgrounds, breeding and situations.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 8:24PM
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i want to correct my statement above.. "old man" was totally deaf and partially blind (mostly blind). Thus that is why I used a foot nudge on his back end when waking him for his walk outside. No one else ever seemed to catch on (my coworkers) why this worked. But it kept my flesh safe, and he knew my scent, and it kept me from getting bit. Once he woke up and realized who I was, he was ready for me to put a leash on him or anything I wished, including -- eventually -- simply picking him up to carry him outside.

LOL... I STILL miss "old man". Had I not had 3 large dogs already, and a very high back deck at the time, he'd have been home with me in a heartbeat. That would have been my only "small dog" since I was six.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 1:11AM
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I'm not prejudice against certain breeds but I had a notion about pit bull owners. I realized that I never considered getting a pit bull because I assumed the type of people who liked pit bulls were macho-guys who wanted a tough dog they could show off and feel powerful with. Watching the Dog Whisperer changed my mindset and I would love a pit bull. One episode called 'Chihuahuas From Hell' showed a Chihuahua named 'El Diablo' who controlled all the dogs at a pit bull sanctuary. This goes to prove that its not size but energy that controls dogs.

I think small dogs get away with behaviour that larger dogs could never get away with. People focus on their cuteness and don't discipline them equally (thinking they might somehow hurt their little dogs). They can become spoiled and aggressive because they don't have boundaries and limitations. Some people don't see small dogs as dogs, they become their babies/children. Dogs need to be fulfilled as dogs otherwise they lose their identity.

When it comes to breed its important to look at what the dogs have been breed for. Herding dogs may not feel challenged if their herding instincts aren't fulfilled. Hunting dogs, tracking dogs, dogs trained to do jobs need stimulation to fulfill that side of themselves. Walks, games and even using outside sources (like where professionals have dogs herd sheep or track stuff) can help meet a dog's needs.

At dog parks your dog will sense the energy of other dogs. Some they may be uncomfortable with and then you should observe the behaviour of those dogs to learn what energy is not good for your dogs. I would never avoid a dog based on its breed but on its behaviour and that of its owners. If the owners are talking on a cell phone and ignoring their dog completely their dog is left up to its own common sense which sometimes isn't there.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 1:16PM
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