Vintage illustration of different dog breeds, Henry J. Johnson 1880.
View Analytical Paper
DogsBite.org was recently introduced to a variety of works by internationally acclaimed animal behaviorist Alexandra Semyonova -- born in the U.S. and educated at John Hopkins University and University College London. Semyonova writes with breathtaking honesty about issues that matter the most: the reality of selecting for aggression and the repeated denial by humane organizations and dog breeders that such selection bears no hereditary significance.
Semyonova's 8-page academic paper explains, in easily understandable terms, the roots and results of selective breeding. Semyonova states in the opening sentence, "Probably everyone understands that all dog breeds we have created are a result of our own manipulation of inherited physical traits." Semyonova continues, "Once the discussion started about perhaps banning breeds that, as a breed, have a high tendency to attack and kill, everything got confused."
Semyonova's paper clears up this confusion by discussing how it is possible for behavior to be inherited in domestic dogs.
The paper begins by delving into the "physical conformation" of the dog, the shape that best suits the task the dog has been bred to perform, as well as the "behavioral conformation" of the dog. Both aspects are the result of generations of selective breeding, which is why a poodle can be taught to herd sheep but will never out-perform a border collie in the task. "We have bred certain things into various breeds genetically and thus irrevocably," Semyonova candidly states.
The next two areas talk about "selecting for abnormalities and/or pathologies" and "selecting for abnormal aggression." Semyonova distinguishes the difference between normal dog aggression (normal coping responses in a particular environment) and abnormal aggression (high arousal and aggressivitiy in a safe environment). Two studies are cited in these areas, Peremans (2002) and Van Den Berg (2006), that investigate the role of brain function and heredity in aggression.
The combination of these studies shows that through selection for "aggressive performance," breeders have in fact been selecting for specific abnormalities in the brain. In essence, instead of excluding abnormally aggressive dogs from their breeding stock, Semyonova points out that, "breeders focused on making lineages in which all the dogs would carry these genes (i.e., dogs which would reliably exhibit the desired impulsive aggressive behavior). They succeeded."
The concluding section discusses "form follows function." For example, it is by no mistake that dogs selected for "killing" (the pit bull, dogo Argentino and others) are characterized by exaggerated jaw muscles and the willingness to attack in the absence of species-specific signs. Additionally, the environments for which these behaviors were selected (the fighting pit and escaping slave) are so extreme that there is no appropriate context for them in normal life.
Through discussion and citations, Semyonova carefully maps out her central argument, which is the assertion by humane groups and dog breeders that aggression is not heritable in domestic dogs. This assertion, she writes, given emerging research "is no longer tenable." Furthermore, it is time to stop letting owners and breeders of these dogs deny that they could have known the dog would execute a serious or deadly attack. It is time, instead, to hold them responsible and liable.
About Alexandra Semyonova
|The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs
Alexandra Semyonova's book is credited by the editor of Animal People as, "The most astute book about dog behavior that we have reviewed in 23 years." Semyonova's book is available for purchase at Amazon.com and several other websites.
|Nonlinear Dogs: A Website Dedicated to Telling the Truth About Dogs
From the Nonlinear Dogs website, one can review selected pieces of works by Semyonova including: The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs; The Social Organization of the Domestic Dog; The Deaf Dog Manifesto and others.
Oh Oh! The Pit Bull breeding community is going to howl over this…. They want to be able to continue pumping out dog killing thoroughbreds without a scintilla of liability.
I think the tobacco companies once engaged in a similiar practice.
The Charles Smallwood line pits should be a case study on bumper attacking and Level 5/6 human mauling traits.
“The dogs used to guard extended farmlands in such countries as France (the Bordeaux) or South Africa (the Boerbull), the slave
-chasers (Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero), they were all selected for killing performance at the sight of strangers of another species – thus again a willingness to attack in the absence of the normal signals that provoke aggression in a dog and the unwillingness to stop (sometimes even after the other is long dead).”
If I’m reading that correctly it means Dogo Argentinos and Fila Brasilieros were created for the purpose of human aggression, not dog aggression, and mostly likely the same goes for the first two. Call me crazy, but lions and tigers are not genetically human aggressive yet considered too dangerous to own as pets, but I should be unconcerned if my neighbor has one of these dogs??
Where are the American academics, who have access to all kinds of written dog-fighting history and page by page accounts of the entire american pit bull terrier at their fingertips?
Hmmmmmm. Other the Dr. Alan Beck, who else has surface in the USA to contradict the outrageous propaganda disseminated from the pit bull nutters?
This should be a call to
There also are the pseudo “professionals” who will howl
Those people such as veterinarians, hazy “PhdS” and self-appointed “behaviorists” and and all the rest with AKC and other dog breeder lobbyists interests
Just like corrupt stockbrokers churing funds for cash, or lawyers pilfering clients’ estates, these corrupt fake professionals get money and notoriety on hehalf of their propagandizing for the breeder lobbies.
Some of them work at universities (just like drug companies and tobacco companies have faculty plants and mouthpieces that are university-hired and pretend to be “experts.”)
These people will do the dirty work of trying to cut down Semyonova’s research.
These people are in the business of creating lies and protecting lies, and they will lash out at anyone who exposes those lies.
They try to use university degrees to break down those who they perceive as a threat to the earnings of dog breeders and dog fighters.
“Where are the American academics, who have access to all kinds of written dog-fighting history and page by page accounts of the entire american pit bull terrier at their fingertips?”
A good number of them have business and PERSONAL relationships with business lobbies like AKC, etc
Or take the case of Jere Alexander, involved with dog fighters.
She had her degrees, and was getting money from Emory University to write “papers” promoting dogfighting as an impressive cultural putsuit.
And remember Alane Koki?
Since anyone on earth can easily pick up long strings of university degrees these days, there are any number of conners and fakers pretending to be experts and rattling off their degrees to try to impress
What a fresh and brazen voice! I think I am in LOVE!
Then remember the veterinarian (AKC connected) who was declaring in some articles that “pit bulls are mixed breed” and that the ones that are killing are “mixed breed.”
To protect the purebred dog breeding world, this veterinarian (was it Beaver?) is outright LYING.
Almost all pure bred dogs are “mixed breed” somewhere in their lineage. They had to be created from something. That veterinarian is a moron. I think people who make false claims about pit bulls and their so-called safety should be held liable whenever this breed injures or kills another. Force them to donate a sizable chunk of their income to a pooled victim fund every year they spout their nonsense. They’re making money off of shilling pits. It should cost them when that shilling costs others.