Men and Dogs

In his blog, the mermaid’s tale, Ken Weiss wonders if the characteristic behaviors of different dog breeds are inculcated, rather than inborn:

Which raises the general question of just how built-in strain-specific temperaments and the like really are. To what, if any, extent is it that given breeds are raised in particular ways that make it seem as if the resulting behaviors are ‘genetic’? Are breed behavior characteristics being overstated?”

Of course this question has already been answered years ago by Dan Freedman, who had puppies of various breeds raised by raised by bitches of another breed. As I noted earlier, breed personality looks to be inborn:  Little beagles were irrepressibly friendly.  Shetland sheepdogs were most sensitive to a loud voice or the slightest punishment. Wire-haired terriers were so tough and aggressive that Dan had to wear gloves when playing with puppies that were only three weeks old. Basenjis were aloof and independent.

Freedman went on to find similar personality differences in newborn babies of different races, as seen here.  I sure hope that Ken Weiss watches it. Could be funny.




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100 Responses to Men and Dogs

  1. These are all strong proofs. How many decades before 5% of psychologists notice them?

  2. Jim says:

    Judging by fairy tales and myths this seems to bs a common fantasy. If only I had been born in different circumstances! I would be Albert Einstein instead of Afred Neumann!

  3. Patrick Boyle says:

    I noticed this phenomenon about fifty years ago. I came to California to go to school but I had to establish residency and so I had to get a job. I became a driving instructor at the “International Driving School”. Normally we avoided letting mothers bring along their small children because they cried and jumped about, which could be dangerous. But one day I was assigned a Japanese mother with her tiny and very young child.

    She was a very poor driver and the kid bounced around in the back seat like the ball in a whistle. She turned around and said something to him just once and he went totally passive and accepting. He continued to fall off the seat on to the floor and be bounced from side to side as she continued to drive badly, but he never let out another squawk.

    That lesson was quiet memorable. The white and Mexican kids were never like that.

    I guess I missed an opportunity. I should have made my own baby torture movie and become a famous academic.

    • ironrailsironweights says:

      “But one day I was assigned a Japanese mother … She was a very poor driver”
      Never would have guessed that. Not in a million years.


    • Staffan says:

      I had a similar experience at the library recently. A Swedish woman left her East Asian adopted baby next to the computer I was sitting at. The child sat their and looked in some books for an hour at least. She was so quiet and still I soon forgot she was even there. That would be impossible with a Swedish child.

    • skid says:

      If you were in a car (even as a passenger) for the first time when you were in your 30’s, you wouldn’t be a good driver either.

  4. In fairness to Holly Dunsworth, the actual author of the piece, she wasn’t so much objecting to the nature of the study so much as pointing out its flaws.

    On Freedman’s babies, I presume that the way some people carried their infants as foraging hunters gatherers in the distant past created positive selection for quieter and less mobile babies. I’d like to see ethnographic information about the practices and technologies used in infant transportation around the world.

    The need to transport infants will presumably be subject to both the environment and the means of subsistence. This is why I stress the past before food production, although even then people would have had variable means of subsistence ie. hand collectors/foragers in contrast to hunters and fishers more dependant upon the use of tools to collect resources and reliant more upon animal protein.

    • gcochran9 says:

      True fairness would have meant noting that Holly apparently can’t write as much as a paragraph without making clear that she is an utter fool. I’ll bet she inserts nonsense about how identical twins aren’t really all that similar and the mystical difficulty of measuring brain volume into her grocery list.

      As for Ken Weiss, I get the distinct impression that he’s never known anybody whose cousin owns a dog. Shit, I knew more about dog personality when I was 15, just by having a paper route and noticing which breeds bit me.

      In a just world, people like this would be universally mocked.

      • What did I write that was foolish?

      • Magus Janus says:

        i sometimes wonder if they know of your blog or not.

        id also be fascinated to see a real, moderated debate between you and one of them. either live or via writing, point and counterpoint.

        i guess the real question though is how do we go about changing not their minds (since they seem obstinate in their errors) but rather the minds of coming generations. Maybe new genetic discoveries coming down the pipeline will do the trick, but I doubt it.

        If they manage to avoid all the obvious evidence we have right now, it shouldn’t be that hard to avoid any more evidence we marshal.

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        And, of course, talking to dog breeders would have made them more informed.

      • Greg, Ken has indeed had a least one dog and probably more. Her name was Molly, a wonderful golden retriever. Interestingly Ken and Anne managed to socialize her so that she was an exact stereotype of all golden retrievers.

        At the same time I had a beagle and a labrador. I socialized my beagle so that he was an exact stereotype of all beagles. I socialized my labrador so that she was a perfect image of our stereotypes of labradors.

        Funny how powerful our abilities to socialize our dogs are.

  5. Who are “them”? As little as I know so far “them” are pseudonyms for people who, as you say, pick and choose their evidence to fit their perspective. And it’s apparently pretty emotionally charged if it’s this quick to react based on what appears to be poor reading comprehension and mystical mind reading abilities. Hell, they’re calling me an idiot on Twitter too, and I’m on board with the power and diversity of DNA and other biology whenever the study design/evidence is decent. Therefore, I don’t believe a debate would be appropriate. What’s the point of debating an ideologue? But I’d would very much like to be shown what’s “foolish” about my blog post, please. Because I’m here to learn, unlike some of “them.”

    • Oh, whoops I see not everyone is pseuds: Hello Henry and Gregory. Interesting crowd you have gathered here!

      • gcochran9 says:

        Take a look at the video I linked to. See what you think.

      • Holly, since he misattributed the piece to Ken Weiss and then still mentioned Ken Weiss in his reply to me, I assume Greg is really stabbing at him rather than you. I get on with Greg myself but he does allow troll comments. West Hunter is by nature chaotic.

        Lots of people prefer anonymity online, at least in public rather than ie.Facebook. It is a good practice on the internet because not everyone is benign. Itself it is only malicious if people are abusing anonymity and sock puppets to stalk other people. Usually this isn’t the case.

        Some people discussing taboo topics may feel they are at risk, or simply like to feel ‘edgy’ or simply be prudent about web privacy but in any case it shouldn’t worry anyone. The respected ‘Neuroskeptic’ – a pseudonym himself mmm? – tweeted a while ago about anonymity in science publishing, and has been cited in peer review though anonymous.

        Many of us – cautious people – do give our names selectively. For instance John Hawks knows mine from the Coursers course that he provides online. There are people on the OU who know it, naturally. But out makes no sense to be open everywhere.

        • gcochran9 says:

          I did not misattribute the piece to Ken Weiss. I talked about his comment, which struck me as demented. Later, I talked about Holly’s piece. I was wrong, I think. She repeatedly mentions how anthropologists are allergic to certain practices, like measuring heads and then using observed differences to explain behavior. I don’t have much respect for the allergies of typical anthropologists. If we’re talking brain volume, rather than CI, I think that allergy is misplaced. Brain size matters. In fact, I’m seriously allergic to their allergies. But my allergies may have misled me. In Holly’s case, not with Ken Weiss. And Hell, I’ve even seen Ken be right on occasion.

          Reading her piece more carefully, trying to remember that she is not necessarily on the same page as Ken Weiss, she’s not being ridiculous in thinking that paper about CI and dogs is dubious.

      • Tanstaafl says:

        To bones: “West Hunter is by nature chaotic” NO! It is obviously Rational Anarchist. Listen the brass cannon.

    • melendwyr says:

      “And maybe humans just don’t have very varied head shapes in the grand scheme of things, in the big picture of whatever ‘variation’ is, and our perception of such typological differences is just what we’re good at doing with things like human heads.”

      That’s foolishness right there. If there were no differences in behavior, we would be right to suspect that any physiological differences in head size were irrelevant. But since there are differences, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that a variation which correlates with the difference and presents clear theoretical potential to be a causative link actually IS so.

      Perhaps rationalizing away arguments and data which threaten our preferred doctrines is just something we’re good at doing with things like human heads. But it’s no more condonable for that. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    • Welcome here Holly. Greg is well known for his exuberant expressions of his opinions and reactions. Pay no attention. We will suggest to Ruth that she work on calibrating his meds.

      I wish I had an old email from Greg, long before we ever met, responding to my assertion that Abraham Lincoln was an international criminal. Took hours for my computer to cool back down.

      It is interesting that we anthropologists delight in chortling about how ridiculous phrenology was. We should realize that it was firmly in the mainstream of collecting data and trying to figure out the world of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On the other hand, it is IMHO not so ridiculous. There are many morphological correlates of, say, IQ. Being tall, bilaterally symmetrical, astigmatic, having a big cranial cavity, with fast nerve transmission all predict IQ quite well. Gould is well known for mocking Morton and his cranial capacity work but it has become clear that Gould was a fraud and a charlatan. Things keep changing…..


      • We all like Greg Cochran, he’s like Greg House on crack. I do think many commentors here behave like it was 4chan or somewhere.

        Re: discussions political correctness in science. I responded on Twitter to Jablonski by saying something like she should be fired (not directed at her.) This was meant superciliously of course, but in frustrated response to dodgy arguments in the Edge suggestion.

        My problem is other people like HBD Bibliography started coming up with crap like ‘Nina Jablonski should brush up on some HBD’. This is nonsense; she is a respected physical anthropologist and that is the problem, that she ought to have known better and should not have included certain arguments. I don’t think aggressiveness is useful, because it detracts from proper criticisms.

      • melendwyr says:

        On the other hand, aggressiveness is increasingly necessary, as the most vocal opponents of blank slate positions have repeatedly shown themselves immune to both reason and shame.

        Whether this is the result of selection proceeding from only permitting polite critiques, or part of the nature of the sort of people who would originate blank slate positions, is an argument best left for another day.

  6. Jim says:

    My family had a wire-haired fox terrior when I was a boy. Archie was a great dog, very friendly, but every bit a “cwude wuffian”.

  7. RS says:

    Unless you want your dog for hunting or guarding, or want to know that its probabilistically safe around kids, why would you get a purebred? Aren’t they practically homozygous, and probably less vigorous? I’m sure countless individuals were culled from the breeding line in creating them, so they aren’t even one tenth as bad as some randomly-selected homozygous genome. But still.

    Evidently the question is undecided, but this vet claims more vets have their chips on hetero dogs:

    Years ago I had a biomed prof who mentioned her purebred canids… though I never looked it up until just now, I had a vague sense of pures being disease-ish and I was like really, you have homozygous pets? Just seemed funny in someone who knew what true-breeding animal strains are and how they are made. I must have been in a mischievous mood, or more likely didn’t remark out loud.

    I helped pick out the family dog when I was eight, and it was pure, but you can’t blame me for that. And yes she did get sick well before any major general senescence.

    • RS says:

      Personally I probably wouldn’t even get a first-gen mutt, but a mutt bred from mutts. Though the former would be far more predictable as to adult character, if you could examine adults of that sort of parentage.

      The other two pures I’ve known were also sick prior to senescence ; one was diagnosed with depression and maybe self-hair-pulling and was on SSRIs. The other was pointedly not on SSRIs, being property of a thoroughgoing hippie, but was pretty saturnine plus some other stuff and often turned me down to go running. The mutt in the house was a wild SOB and we had a blast fighting every day.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Hybrid corn comes to mind when speaking of the superiority of mutts. With corn hundreds of inbred lines were isolated and these were evaluated in thousands of crosses. The end result, double cross hybrids, were the result of four inbred lines. We need the coat of a poodle, the temperament of a golden retriever, the size of a small dog, and the intelligence of a German shepherd. In the case of people we need one of the grandparents to be an inbred Greg Cochran so we can keep his intelligence but breed the crankiness out of him.

    • Fintan says:

      Judging from your specific choice of words, and also your “mutt bred from mutts” comment, I’ve got to say that it really sounds like you wildly misunderstand the concept of hybrid vigor.

      Hybrid vigor only really applies to H1, the first generation hybrid, and is largely a result of the fact that the H1 generation is highly unlikely to inherit identical recessives from both parental lines. Now, granted, some of the effect can be due to a conscious selection for complimentary traits (selecting for a specific phenotype) as well.

      However, H2 and beyond are LESS vigorous and healthy than the purebred parent population of H1. Breeding H1 to either of the parent populations exposes H2 to ALL of the potential recessives that H1 was immune to. That also means that H2 is vulnerable to diseases that Parent 1 of H1 was immune to, as well as other diseases that Parent 2 of H1 was immune to. In other words, H2 is going to be more disease-ridden as a rule than either of the purebred lines that went into making H1.

      Additionally, trying to breed a H1-hybrid to another organism in order to select for a specific trait is far more of a crap-shoot than picking from non-hybrid bloodlines that have that trait at or near fixation.

      Think of the following human example – an Ashkenazi Jewish fellow marries and has several children with a decidedly non-Jewish African-American woman. The father is carrying one recessive for Tay-Sachs disease, and the mother is carrying one recessive for sickle-cell anemia.

      Now, the parents themselves don’t suffer from the diseases because they are merely carriers. The children, H1, can inherit both of those recessives, but because both parents have a different selection of recessives it’s highly unlike that the children, H1, will manage to inherit the same recessive from both parents (this is NOT the case if you’re not VERY carefully to select from widely different parental populations).

      Individually the children will appear healthy, because they don’t have two copies of said recessives. But let’s say that little Layteesha Goldstein (if you’ll excuse the bad ethnic humor for a moment) grows up and weds a young fellow from either her mother’s “tribe” or her father’s. Either way she goes, she’s playing Russian roulette with her children, because let’s say she’s positive for both Tay-Sachs AND sickle-cell trait. If she marries a black man, her children will be vulnerable to the recessive conditions of the African American community, and if she marries into the Askenazim her grandchildren will be vulnerable to the recessive traits of that community as well. Layteesha appears healthier because she’s immune to the accumulated recessive diseases of either of her parent populations, but her children will be MORE vulnerable to recessive diseases than either the African-American woman or the Ashkenazi Jewish man.

      What’s more, little Layteesha’s children are likely to experience some degree of outbreeding depression. A community of closely related organisms that frequently interbreed will, over many generations, tend to accumulate a collection of traits that increase the odds of survival in that environment – often we’ll see that said closely-related community will develop traits that make breeding, birthing, and child-rearing easier within the community as well. Look at the rates of medically necessary caesarean section among Asian women with non-Asian husbands to get a human perspective on complimentary physiques and accumulated communal mutations associated with immune function and gestation that are beneficial to reproduction. There was also a study recently on the fertility rate and infant mortality rate among related and unrelated Icelandic couples that sheds some light on the line where inbreeding depression ends and outbreeding depression starts in (Icelandic at least) humans.

      Going back to dogs for an example, do you imagine that there might be some potentially dangerous physical complications if a Chihuahua dame were bred to a Great Dane sire? There are some, ahem, slight differences in average birth weight between the parent communities. Mixing populations that have different average gestation periods, different average birth weights, different average levels of infant head size, etc., can result in some unfortunate anatomical complications for the mother.

      Going back to the twin issues of hybrid vigor and selection for beneficial traits, what do you think would happen if you planted hybrid tomato plants and harvested the seeds of the hybrid tomatoes for replanting? H1, the first hybrid generation, was carefully bred from two very different parent populations that didn’t share common recessives. Further, H1 was bred from two very different populations that were specifically selected for the traits they possessed. Careful consideration was given to how these traits would interact and the probability that they would produce desirable traits in H1.

      However, H2 is going to look nothing like H1. H1 was a careful, deliberate selection meant to produce a remarkable plant. H2 will tend to be a slapdash mixture vulnerable to twice as many heritable diseases as either of the parents of H1, and likely won’t benefit as much or at all from the communicable disease resistance of the parent populations.

      If you replant the seeds from those hybrid tomatoes you may not even get tomatoes next year. A good rule of thumb is that none of H2 will have all of the beneficial traits of P1, none of H2 will have all of the beneficial traits of P2, none of the H2 will have all of the beneficial traits of H1. It is likely that H2 will be vulnerable to all of the diseases, hereditary and communicable alike, that H1 was immune to. It is likely that H2 will have LESS immunity to things like fungal plant diseases and insect infestation than either P1 or P2. When it comes to phenotype, it’s safe to say that the carefully bred appearances, yield, consistency, maturation rate, etc., of the P1 and P2 populations will NOT be fully inherited by H2. What’s more, if we selected for a set of traits in H1, like cold tolerance and large fruit size, there’s a good chance that many in H2 will have neither of these traits.

      If you want a good H1, that is a cold-tolerant tomato plant that is resistant to rust and aphids which also produces large, red, delicious fruit, you’re going to have to keep continually breeding an H1 from P1 and P2 – you can’t just cut straight to the mutt’s mutts, H2, and expect anything remotely like what you want. If you select H1’s mutts for your garden, expect a lot of frozen plants and a lot of aphids, with few tomatoes to show for it. If you want all the glory of H1, you’re going to have to keep making the tomato equivalent of Labradoodles.

      In the human case of H1, ms. Layteesha Goldstein, and her children, H2, what do you think would happen if a community of Goldsteins eventually developed – a mixed-race community of African-American-Ashkenazi-Jews (like the Melungeon community that gave birth to that one particularly lanky chimney-brush who managed to become a politician)? Well, depending on various selective pressures, mating strategies, and the toss of the dice, they’d likely have twice as many crippling recessive diseases as either the African American or Ashkenazim communities. You probably wouldn’t expect to see anywhere near as many 7-foot tall basketball stars, nor would you likely as many… whatever you think Ashkenazi communities are notable for – ahem.

      Your statement that wouldn’t even get a first-gen mutt, but would prefer a mutt’s mutt, leads me to believe that you really don’t understand how inheritance and hybridization works, nor how to select for traits and develop a new breed.

      Granted, very valuable dog breeds have been created by taking multiple parent populations as starting stock, letting relatively random mating occur, and relying on extreme selective pressures to select which offspring would continue the line. A mountain cur is a good example of this process. Taking sight and scent hounds, guarders, and herders and maybe a ratter or two, mixing them all up, but only re-breeding the animals that are good hunters, guards, and herders combined can, over many long and painful generations of selection, result in a versatile breed that’s intelligent and well-suited to being a jack-of-all-trades on the homestead. But that’s quite a lot different from what you’re implying with your mutt’s mutts.

      What your statements would imply is that you want chocolate-chip cookies without chocolate chips, and rather than picking the chocolate chips out of the dough, you decided to mix chocolate chip and sugar cookie dough together, maybe with some fig bars and lemon cookies thrown in, and just hope by random chance that you get a spoonfull that doesn’t have chocolate chips in it and doesn’t taste too much like sugar cookie or anything else. The next time you’d like a cookie, you would appear to be apt to get out the great big bowl again and start mixing and hoping.

      • Gordo says:

        Enjoyed reading that post.

      • Pincher Martin says:

        Yeah, that was quite interesting.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        not often TL;DR doesn’t apply

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Africans and South East Asians seem to have different approaches to cycle-cell anemia, which could result in interesting issues for the offspring of such a mix.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Thanks, I’ll be off to wikipedia to try and better understand some of these concepts.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        This lanky politician you mention, one Abraham Lincoln whose natural mother Nancy Hawks was an illegitimate child, leads me to a question not regarding his possible mixed race background, but the distinct possibility that honest Abe had men2b, a genetic disease. This may or may not interest Greg but I’ll just throw it out there because if anybody knows and is interested, it’s Greg.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        I found something curious while researching Lincoln on line. One doctor speculated that Lincoln suffered from the very rare genetic disease MEN2b which he got from his mother Nancy Hanks. Then at another source the Abraham Lincoln blog run by Geoff Elliot a women writes in that she is related to Nancy Hawks and she has Mens’ disease and may not be living much longer. Her name is Lisa Anne Nilsson and she leaves her e-mail address over at the Abraham Lincoln Blog. That is pretty coincidental and if true this debilitating dominant inherited disease would leave a pretty strong trail of whom gave it to whom. It might be false but if true it might lead to as they used to say in journalism a scoop. As Fintan implies Lincolns grandfather could be of mixed blood, and that would even take the headlines from the latest pole dancing singer with drug problems.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Sons are twice as likely to develope MEN2b as daughters so the maternal line of this disease could have survived to the present. But I guess we shall never know.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Wikipedia is incorrect. Among de novo cases, women are twice as common as men. The original article is wondering about imprinting, but I think they were on the wrong track. Back then they didn’t know the real mechanism driving the high mutation rate. I’d bet on prenatal lethality among boys carrying the mutation.

      • Pincher Martin says:

        As long as we’re digging up dead presidents to test their DNA, can someone unlock the Harding family vault in Marion, Ohio, and finally tell us if the man who invented the language “Gamalielese” was our first black president?

  8. “Take a look at the video I linked to. See what you think.”

    I did. Thanks. Now I believe it’s up to you to show me how I’m an utter fool. Thanks.

    • melendwyr says:

      Stupid people often lack the intellectual competence to detect the signs that they’re stupid. We don’t need to convince you of anything, ma’am. You’re doing a great job of convincing people without any further assistance from us. Keep up the good work!

    • JayMan says:

      Hey in my book you get major points for coming over here (ahem). Please excuse some of the snarky distracting comments and the quirks of commenting on WordPress (I believe reply threads here are set so they only go three levels deep). I am actually looking forward to discussion here, and what you think of the facts.

      For the record, I believe there has been a bit of confusion in what, exactly, we’re talking about. I’m only assuming that that will sort itself out.

  9. Richard Sharpe says:

    To what, if any, extent is it that given breeds are raised in particular ways that make it seem as if the resulting behaviors are ‘genetic’? Are breed behavior characteristics being overstated?

    It would seem that this is amenable to testing.

    The Chinese have recently taken to keeping dogs as pets and could be expected to to have different approaches to raising their dogs (this can also be checked.)

    So, if the evidence from dog breeders is not enough, then this other source of info can be looked into.

  10. RS says:

    A Sino-Chinese friend worked as an au pair in Austria, for a pretty classy couple. She liked the kids but seemed a little surprised by their Western Barbarism, not that she would put it that way. Especially their climbing on things all the time. I don’t think she had known any Europids other than me, and had probably barely ever so much as seen Europid toddlers in a park, much less a pack of young Ostrogoths from beyond the limes of romanitas.

    I’ve seen it suggested that you have climbing-practice drives so you will be prepared in case of meeting a hostile dog or wild animal that can’t climb. So maybe NEAs are attenuated for this trait. Heaven knows Euro-Americans keep some pretty rough dogs around — probably rougher yet just 400 years ago when European people were so much more murderous. I would guess NEAs aren’t too into aggro guard dogs. I’ve never been bit but there are some real Cerberuses around here.

    It makes sense little kids would have more climbing drive since they are far more vulnerable. Edgy dogs may scare me, but as long as we’re not talking Great Dane, or three against one, I might have a fair chance. Just don’t let them near your neck I figure.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “seemed a little surprised by their Western Barbarism”

      That would be an interesting poll – given a multiple choice how many East Asian descended people would prefer to be descended from 1) civilized farmers or 2) barbarians/hunter-gatherers compared to European descended people. I think the majority in both cases would vote for farmers but i think the euro majority would be smaller.

      Also i wonder if the proportions voting farmer might decline in a ratio Chinese -> Japanese -> Korean.

    • tommy says:

      “I’ve seen it suggested that you have climbing-practice drives so you will be prepared in case of meeting a hostile dog or wild animal that can’t climb. So maybe NEAs are attenuated for this trait. Heaven knows Euro-Americans keep some pretty rough dogs around — probably rougher yet just 400 years ago when European people were so much more murderous. I would guess NEAs aren’t too into aggro guard dogs. I’ve never been bit but there are some real Cerberuses around here.”

      I don’t know about that. Virtually all East Asian breeds are aloof and have low trainability and many are on the aggressive side. Akitas, Shar-peis, Chow Chows, Tibetan Mastiffs all spring to mind. None are really fast learners and all tend to be unfriendly with strange people and dogs. I don’t think East Asians have created a single native breed that is a high performance learner capable of the demands of K-9 work or a breed that is as family friendly as a golden retriever. Even little old Lhasa Apsos strike me as unwelcoming and none too bright.

    • Sandgroper says:

      It’s informative to read the stats on which dog breeds kill the most people in America.

      Bet you can’t guess.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Wikipedia reports 31 people were killed in the United States by dogs in 2013 and 24 were pit bulls or part pit bulls and I am quite sure that would be the overwhelming choice of the most dangerous dog breed, so I think you are wrong.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Wikipedia reports 31 people were killed in the United States by dogs in 2013 and 24 were pit bulls or part pit bulls

        Since African American like pit bulls so much that information must be racist because by the Holly’s claims its the environment that causes their behavior.

      • Sandgroper says:

        I need a sarcasm font.

        Rottweilers come a fairly respectable second.

      • ho says:

        Did you know that this doesn’t account for the number of dogs owned? In other words, this is like claiming because more white than black people commit crime, whites are more violent.

        Furthermore, before 2003, Rottweilers were leading. Before the 70s (The Omen) it was the German Shepherd.

        But hey, at least you managed to be smug once more.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      A Chinese couple in Palo Alto adopted two African-American boys.

      By the time those boys were in high school that Chinese couple were ready to commit suicide.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Based on this and observing my wife with our half-Chinese offspring, here is my suggestion for trans-racial adoption:

        1. If you are East Asian, never adopt from another race.

        2. If you are white, and want an easy time of it, adopt East Asian kids, otherwise adopt white kids. Never any others.

        (Her frustration that they were not Chinese kids was palpable. They have, however, turned out good.)

        • gcochran9 says:

          A certain fairly famous professor at a certain overly famous university told me that in his academic circles, the fashion was to adopt Chinese girls. For some reason.

      • Matt says:

        Chinese kids = discipline problems, not so much. academic problems, not so much. introversion, being bullied problems and peer pressure conformity, possibly. (the conformist thing probably doesn’t lead to huge bullying problems unless there’s lots of them around, like in East Asia).

        East Asian migrants to the USA tend to get self reported (and are reported by their kids) as having kind of a cold, harsh, demanding parenting style. Might be tough for non-Chinese adoptees of Chinese adopters (assuming both they and their parents are a typical sample, which is a big assumption), if other kids needs some more warmth and forgiveness.

  11. (for some reason I’m not able to reply to Cochran’s comments)

    So not all affiliated people (like co-bloggers) are the same! Woot! I think I get a point for anthropology with that revelation.

  12. tommy says:

    Has Weiss ever owned a purebred dog? How can anyone seriously entertain the idea that breed temperaments are learned behavior? I suspect anyone who’s had any experience raising my own favorite breed from puppyhood, the Doberman, after having owned, say, a cocker spaniel or a golden retriever would quickly be disabused of any such notion. The idea that a cocker spaniel might really behave like a little Dobie or an English bulldog like a husky if only they had the proper set of parents or litter mates is laughable. Dogs have certain inherent personalities and, with every particular breed, you really have to push them in particular directions and reign in certain breed-specific tendencies to attain what is a rather uniform standard of good canine behavior. If adults really transmitted this standard to their pups, then owners would quickly find all dog breeds, adjusting only for the amount of good canine citizenship training provided by breeders or previous owners, to be similarly uniform in their tendencies. The direction that training must go would also be uniform and that’s a notion that anyone with experience with multiple breeds has to find amusing and absurd.

  13. athEIst says:

    responding to my assertion that Abraham Lincoln was an international criminal
    I would like to read that. Where can I obtain it.

  14. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Someone defended Holly’s piece thusly:

    In fairness to Holly Dunsworth, the actual author of the piece, she wasn’t so much objecting to the nature of the study so much as pointing out its flaws.

    If her concern was to point out the flaws in whatever science was in the original paper, she could have done that by responding with objections to PLOS.

    Instead, she penned a scurrilous, Gouldian, hit-piece that purports to be about dog crania but is really about human crania.


    Acknowledging the strong possibility that genes are more powerful determinants of head shape than environment isn’t offensive to many of us today, even those of us who are sensitive about these sorts of data because of their past uses or their potential for future abuses.


    And maybe humans just don’t have very varied head shapes in the grand scheme of things, in the big picture of whatever “variation” is, and our perception of such typological differences is just what we’re good at doing with things like human heads.

    The message?

    You are racist if you even think about finding systematic differences in human characteristics

    Then there is this little paragraph:

    That’s because, for one, people often like to compare human races to dog breeds.

    Yeah, I hear that often:

    “Johann, like a faithful German Shepard, was guarding the …”

    “Demarius, like a savage pitt bull proceeded to …”

    Yeah, I have.

    Greg, you shouldn’t have backed down.

  15. Patrick Boyle says:

    I forgive Greg for being rude to the lovely Mrs. Dunsworth. Greg is indeed cranky on occasion. But you have to consider what the Supreme Court has called ‘fighting words’. Greg was provoked sorely by her article.

    Her article’s title Is written intentionally as a reference to Gould’s pop-science best seller – “The Mismeasurement of Man”. As Henry Harpending commented above – this is a thoroughly discredited piece of pseudo-science. It is not just wrong but it is maliciously misleading. As such it is a piece of hate propaganda. Mrs. Dunsworth must know that . So she was trying to provoke a reaction. She was tugging on Superman’s cape.

    She also seems to have written her piece mainly as a way to attack those she characterizes as ‘racists’. She tries to paint anyone who disagrees with her about her brand of extreme environmentalism as guilty of ‘crime-think’. So her stance as the offended party in this minor bout of name calling is very questionable.

    It is true that her criticism of the way the CI measurements were made seems appropriate. Including the zygomatic arches and the snout in dog skulls is just wrong. But she doesn’t appear to be motivated primarily by a yen for methodological purity or even justice for dogs. She seems to only be interested in grinding a political ax.

    I doubt if skull shape does determine personality in dogs. But I’d be willing to entertain the notion. My dog is a pure bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the Blenheim coloration. This is a brachycephalic dog recreated in the last century to match a dolichocephalic dag that had gone extinct. Charles II – the Merry Monarch – was often depicted in Holbein portraits surrounded by these little piebald spaniels. But they died out.

    The original but now extinct spaniels had long thin heads. The modern versions have very neotenous heads and faces. The modern ones have been bred to be cute. And they certainly are that. So the question is – changing the shape of the dog’s head – has done what to the dog’s personality? As far as I can see this question can’t be answered for this breed since the original dogs are no longer available. But other breeds should do.

    If we had a long term experiment rather like that of the Russian Foxes, we could breed some thin long snout dogs like whippets or greyhounds for shorter faces. Maybe they would become less aloof and more like my dog – sweet and eager to please. That would be interesting.

    The problem with Mrs. Dunsworth’s article is that she only seems to be interested in scoring points against those whom she fancies as secret phrenologists and race bigots.

    • melendwyr says:

      Even better: at her blog, she’s now patting herself on the back for standing up to rude people who are opposed to thinking scientifically about this matter.

      Seriously. This is what Ms. Dunsworth *actually believes*.

  16. mindfuldrone says:

    Such people should be sentenced to read Malcom Galdwell. Too cruel and inhuman? well–its been done
    I assume this is how you Americans are getting round the embargo on lethal injection chemicals

  17. panjoomby says:

    I like Holly & I like Greg (tho i cringe & wince & run ffor cover if i’m on the wrong side of an argument with him – tho it’s entertaining when it happens with other people – that’s part of his charm – such as it may be) & we all like Henry 🙂

    different dogs are pre-set to have certain tendencies – those tendencies can be attenuated or strengthened by their handlers – BUT, it’s like the great geneticist & high on base percentage athlete eddie stanky once said, “boys, back home i got a donkey & you can run him from sun up to sun down & he ain’t ever gonna win the kentucky derby.”

    • dave chamberlin says:

      yep. The comments section wouldn’t be readable if there wasn’t a high criteria set by our moderator. Fear of a brow beating by our fearless leader is necessary to pre-filter out the babble. As for much of the world beyond this blog coming to grips with a thousand obvious facts, screw ’em, you don’t move livestock with calm reasoning, you use a cattle prod.

    • panjoomby says:

      I was wrong, that’s not an Eddie Stanky quote, it’s from Pepper Martin (1904-1965)
      (Barthel, 2003: Pepper Martin: A Baseball Biography, p. 151) “I gotta jackass back in Oklahoma & you can work him from sunup to sundown & he ain’t never gonna win the Kentucky Derby.” Barthel referenced Bob Chieger, most likely his 1983 book: Voices of Baseball: Quotations on the Summer Game.

  18. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Are there any Psychopathic dogs and could we explore the genetics of psychopathy via dogs?

  19. GoneWithTheWind says:

    I read once that the African male lion was the only animal who was “naturally” aggressive and unafraid and that all or most other fearsome animals learned it as a result of the response of the other animals around them. Could be true or may not, but the point is the jaws and claws may make the predator as they grow up and test themselves and respond to the reaction of other animals. It is pretty difficult to be the toughest dog in the nieghborhood if you are a toy poodle.

  20. The reason grey wolves cannot be properly tamed is because they cannot separate punishment from attack. In this regard they resemble psychopaths.

    Its also an argument against the theory that dfogs are domesticated grey wolves.

    • melendwyr says:

      Funny how wolves manage to ‘tame’ themselves quite adequately. Perhaps the problem is more that humans are too ignorant to take advantage of the strategies for imposing discipline that wolves have built-in.

      • Why woud Paleolithic peoples not have been similarly ignorant?
        There are significant problems with deriving our dogs from ‘classic’ wolves though the behavioural problems apply less to ie. Indian wolves.

        The popular notion many people have that dogs are directly descended from the European, North American and Siberian kinds of wolf must be discarded, with the old Zhoukoudien and Beringian wolves being probably closest.

        See Koler-Matznick (2002).

      • Boris Bartlog says:

        If they are unable to perceive a punishing human in the same way that they would perceive a punishing wolf, it could be impossible for a human to tame them even though other wolves could socialize them.

  21. fnn says:

    Over at the local expat bar, an off-duty bartender was sitting at the bar with an eight week-old Pit Bull in her lap. The pup was spookily calm and quiet for such a young dog. Not a single bark,yip or whine nor any struggling to explore the whole time I was there. I was wondering if this kind of this behavior had some connection to selective breeding for dog fighting.

  22. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    OT, but the behavior of the parents (and child) in this case can be seen as altruistic punishers of free-loaders.

    Of course, I am sure that the usual suspects would react with lots of emotional statements … however, freeloaders are a problem. (Of course, I have chosen a perverse definition of freeloading from a Western perspective, but I bet it is not from the perspective of Indians from that region.)

  23. Flemur says:

    We had three dogs raised together from puppyhood, who reacted to their first exposure to a power lawnmower as follows:
    – German Shepherd freaked out, ran away and hid.
    – Malamute didn’t seem to notice anything (definitely was not deaf).
    – Hunting Lab attacked the running lawnmower, tried to pull the wheels off.

  24. RS says:

    > However, H2 and beyond are LESS vigorous and healthy than the purebred parent population of H1. Breeding H1 to either of the parent populations exposes H2 to ALL of the potential recessives that H1 was immune to. That also means that H2 is vulnerable to diseases that Parent 1 of H1 was immune to, as well as other diseases that Parent 2 of H1 was immune to. In other words, H2 is going to be more disease-ridden as a rule than either of the purebred lines that went into making H1.

    I was unclear: by a mutt from mutts I meant a mutt from four separate grandparental breeds. Thus a hybrid of four pures, resulting in something not too far from a feral type. My guess is it would be a little more vigorous than a hybrid of two pures, since there would be even more masking of deleterious recessives.

    I vaguely grasp your assertion, that if the two parents were nearly-identical but heterozygous genomes, the results might not be very good. I’m not in much of a mood to trace it through.

  25. RS says:

    > Taking sight and scent hounds, guarders, and herders and maybe a ratter or two, mixing them all up, but only re-breeding the animals that are good hunters, guards, and herders combined can, over many long and painful generations of selection, result in a versatile breed that’s intelligent and well-suited to being a jack-of-all-trades on the homestead. But that’s quite a lot different from what you’re implying with your mutt’s mutts.

    I am (or would be) interested in a dog with vigor/health, alertness, and with a high/vivid and changeable affect (as opposed to a ‘flatly’-written character in a novel) — charisma, basically. Not a dog that’s functional or polyfunctional, just a cool and intriguing companion.

    My intuition, right or wrong, is you might get more of that by getting closer to a feral, natural type, such as my hypothetical progeny of four distinct true-breeding grandparents. Obviously it wouldn’t be very much like Canis lupus lupus, it would be approximately like a pariah or feral dog only not selected for autonomous feral living. That’s my personal preference, but I understand why people create homozygous dogs (rather-predictable function, personality, safety) and don’t have a problem with it.

    Do you think my intution/thinking is mistaken?

  26. Patrick Boyle says:

    Dear Gregg,

    Please post another article on another topic. This thread has degenerated into just dog anecdotes.

    • gcochran9 says:

      My dog says “hello”.

      • Patrick Boyle says:

        Very well. I’ll end it myself with irrefutable evidence and logic.

        The main dispute of this thread flows from Ken Weiss’s assertion that dog personalities are as much a result of training as of breeding. As it happens I proved this proposition false just a few years ago – although I did not publish.

        My dog ‘Charlie’ was being bullied by the bigger dogs in the neighborhood. Cavalier King Charles’ are bred for docility. I decided to fix that. I changed his name to ‘Fang’.

        But it didn’t help.

        Ironclad proof. We can now discuss something else.

  27. Tom says:

    There’s a theory that dogs didn’t evolve from wolves, but from something like ancient pariah dogs.

  28. baloocartoons says:

    Reprinted with other relevant stuff here:

  29. Anneallen says:

    Holy Hell … Has Weiss ever watched the Westminster dog show? Very politically incorrect!

  30. Holly Dunsworth says:

    Anecdotes and personal life experiences are great, but not always for getting at the truth. But that’s maybe not the point of this thread. Regardless, thought y’all might like a glimpse of a different way of gaining knowledge:

    • Staffan says:

      Quoting the abstract of that study,

      “Importantly, for all types of aggression, the variables measured explained a relatively small amount of the variance (<10%) between aggressive and non-aggressive animals, suggesting a much greater importance of factors specific to the experience of individual dogs in the development of aggression."

      So they are basically saying that owner behavior and similar environmental factors they looked at could only explain less than 10 percent of the variance in aggression. They then speculate that the rest may be environmental as well. I don't see how that gets us closer to the truth.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998

      “At least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 human DBRF during the past 20 years. Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of these deaths. ”

      Analysis of Dog Bites in Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years

      ” The relative risk for a dog attack by a German shepherd or a Doberman was ∼5 times higher than that of a Labrador/retriever or cross-breed.”

    • misdreavus says:

      Come on, now. Tell me you are smarter than this. The study cited in that news release reports correlations between dog and owner characteristics (e.g. timid old housewives are more likely to raise shar peis; aggressive gang members are more likely to adopt pit bulls), and insinuates that “training” accounts for almost all of the variation. This sort of study tells us NOTHING about the impact of training on behavioral differences between dog breeds. Dan Freedman’s studies account for spurious correlations between the dog and human behavior — for all you know, owners might be selecting for dogs that already match their own behavioral profiles in advance, rather than owners impacting the temperament of their dogs directly through training and discipline.

      There is a wealth of literature exactly like this in the field of developmental psychology that cites correlations between parents and their children to demonstrate the power of childhood training over lifelong cognition. For example, we all know that physicists give birth to smarter children than the average. That the children of gang members are more likely to be incarcerated upon reaching adulthood. That alcoholics rear children who frequently develop problems with substance abuse, themselves. Etc. But the sum total of longitudinal adoption studies (some with sample sizes exceeding thousands of adoptees) proves that the impact of parenting on adult intelligence and temperament is nil. You take a child out of the trailer park and have him adopted by heart surgeons, and at age 21, he’ll have a IQ no higher (or lower) than you might predict if he had been reared by his biological parents. We don’t even have evidence that so-called “shared environment” (which encompasses “parenting”) even impacts little things like BMI, political orientation, handedness, how often you eat fruit loops in a week, or your taste in navy blue underwear. In general, children resemble their parents because they inherit their genes, and for no other reason.

      Of course the usual suspects in academia don’t like this sort of research, for a variety of obvious reasons. For one, it proves that they are grossly incompetent at best, and deliberate liars at worst. Second, it contradicts their political biases in an egregious manner — not so much when it proves that single mothers are really no more effective than two-parent households (or that gay parents aren’t worse than “opposite gender”normal parents), controlling for genes, but certainly when it proves that variation in school quality, income, and most childhood experiences within developed nations accounts for almost no variation in lifelong characteristics. Finally, it proves that the social sciences (as they are practiced in the year 2014) are pretty damn worthless, but everyone with more than two brain cells to rub together knows that already.

      • JayMan says:

        Once again, misdreavus, you sir, are the Man!

        Of course, it’s not just social sciences, medicine suffers for a good bit of the same problems, which will be the subject of an upcoming post of mine.

  31. k9 secutiy says:

    The breed in most cases has nothing or little impact on such a thing; environment plays a role as if a k9 gets dangerous it could be acting out from explicit memory or emotional tie.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Different breeds of dogs act very different when puppies. Newborns from different human races act differently.

      When you figure out how to change this, inform us.

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