Famous Pit Bull: Popsicle

"Finding a drug odor is called an alert. Most dogs alert by scratching but true to his pit bull nature, Popsicle prefers to indicate narcotic odors by biting or chewing at the location of the smell. If Rudy weren't quick to intervene, Popsicle could rip the source of the suspicious scent to shreds."

From Dogs with Jobs, Season 2 Episode 2 ~6:00

streaming on netflix

Pit bull authority Diane Jessup on the use of pit bulls as police K9s.


The Truth About Pit Bull Owners

Myth 39: The serious to fatal damage the aggressive breeds inflict when they attack isn’t due to their genes, but rather due to having the wrong kind of owners.

We’ve seen that the killing bite and unpredictable, uncontrolled aggression are genetically anchored in these dogs, and that they can’t be taught not to execute killing behaviour. They inevitably reach a certain age when they start to do it, looking for opportunities and excuses to do what we have bred them to do (see Myth 38). If you’re lucky, the first attack will be on your cat or another dog, and not on your child. This killing behaviour is not caused by the owner in individual cases; it’s just part of what the dog is. However, the killing behaviour is caused by certain people’s consumer behaviour. By buying these dogs, these people are responsible for making it economically profitable to breed for the killing bite and the hair trigger. Are these people all “the wrong kind of owners”?
The answer to this question lies in the kind of person who wants a dog with the killing bite in the first place. So who are they?
Well, in fact, they are the wrong kind of owners. Take a look around you. It’s mostly a group of people who – for some reason related to their personal psychology – specifically want a dog whose breed standard explicitly states that the breed has been selected for extreme aggression. Often these are people with an inferiority complex of some kind. They want something that will finally enable them to intimidate other people. They have an ego problem, and need to prove something to the world. Many are men who are (perhaps unconsciously) worried about their masculinity, that maybe the world won’t see it. Others are adolescents who watch too much MTV and learn that an aggressive dog is an essential consumer item, just like the Nikes, if he wants to keep up his macho hip-hop or skater’s image. Sometimes they are naïve people, who think all dogs are cuddly plush toys. None of these people have any idea of behavioural conformation (see Myth 38), of the unity of mind and body Nature gives to all creatures, and they are all, in their own way, consumed by vanity.

Experience (of which this author has a lot, alas) teaches that the owners of aggressive breeds can be divided broadly into three categories.

1) We all know there are people who try to conceal their inner feelings of inadequacy by acting extra tough outwardly. Many of them nowadays go buy a “tough” dog. These people, who are struggling with an inferiority complex or an ego problem, then try to force their pit bull/Am Staff (or Presa, or Dogo, etc.) on you because they feel the world owes them recognition. Many of us have experienced this. You try to avoid these people (and their dog) on the street or in a park, but they follow you, determined to inflict the dog upon you. (After all, what’s the use of having this proof of Manliness around if no one will look at it?) They cross the street to follow you so you can’t avoid a confrontation. Their dog runs up to yours in a park, and they refuse to call it when you ask them to. Usually, the dog wouldn’t obey anyway, and they don’t want this embarrassing fact revealed to you. But above all, they enjoy your worry about what their aggressive dog will do. They shout at you to stop acting so weird about their dog. They get angry, and they often get verbally aggressive. It is of extreme importance to these people to force their dog on you, because their need is so great to show the world they know better than everyone else. The dog is the way they can seek arguments and win for a change, since they never succeed in doing this on their own strength. When their dog does attack another dog and try to kill him, they are dumbfounded, because they really are too stupid to understand what these dogs are all about. Their cowardice surfaces – they don’t dare interfere with their attacking dog, and once it’s over, they disappear as quick as they can. Often you never see them in the park again, which is great, except for the fact that someone’s normal, peace seeking dog had to pay with his life first. But some of them don’t disappear for good. Some of them actually enjoy watching their dog’s aggression, and just make sure they’re gone before the police arrive. Tomorrow they’re back again, and blaming you for having called the police. There have been cases in which the owner of the attacked dog was terrorized as punishment for reporting the attack to the police, to the extent that the owner of the horribly wounded dog had to move to a different neighbourhood. Finally, many of the people in this category of aggressive dog lovers enter their dogs in illegal pit fights, a phenomenon which has resurfaced in many of our cities since these dogs became so widespread. Some of these specifically go to places where other dogs come, in the hope that if their aggressive-breed dog practices on your cocker spaniel, he’ll do better in the pit.

2) These are young adolescent male humans, who have reached the brink of adulthood but aren’t there yet. The adolescent male is searching for his identity and trying to get himself a satisfying spot in his peer group. The adolescent doesn’t always have bad intentions, but his brain isn’t ripe yet, and he isn’t yet capable of understanding the consequences of his actions (which is also the reason he has to pay so much more for car insurance than the rest of us). He sees the macho rapper on television, accompanied by the aggressive dog, and he wants one, too. After he’s finished saving up for Nikes, he saves up for a dog. He has no idea what he’s bought once he has the dog, thinking it’s just another consumer item. To him the dog isn’t any different than his other fashion accessories, to him the dog is a thing that will – just like his Portable Play Station – turn on and off if you press the button. The adolescent is, by virtue of his age, a bit rebellious. He is exploring various boundaries, sometimes pushing the envelope in his search for an identity. He just loves to show adults that he won’t do what they ask him to do, but that he makes his own decisions. Of course he won’t leash his dog just because some grown-up makes the request, are you kidding, what a loss of face! He isn’t prepared for it when his dog attacks a person or another dog, and he doesn’t know what to do. His toy is suddenly acting up. So he does nothing, offers no help, doesn’t dare interfere with his dog, and most probably just gets the hell out of Dodge as quick as his little adolescent legs will carry him. Adolescence is an age of natural egotism, and a time when even sympathetic boys often lose their ability to empathize with others for a while. So this kid isn’t capable of imagining the suffering the attacked dog goes through, nor the grief of the dog’s owner. He’s just glad his parents didn’t find out about what happened, otherwise they might take his dog away. “Tomorrow’s another day, hey, don’t be so serious about life, and besides, what could I do about it? The dog did it, not me.”

3) These are the Egotistical Innocents. They are members of animal protection clubs and humane societies. They read lots of sentimental stories about animals, and they watch lots of programs on Discovery Channel. They believe that all animals are sweet-natured cuddly toys. These people’s egocentricity is different from the adolescent’s. These people think they are the measure of all things, and they therefore believe that if a dog is nice to them, well, it means he’s nice, period. How the dog behaves towards others isn’t so important. The Egotistical Innocent lives in a fairy tale, failing to see that a dog is a living being with a will and personality of his own, and that the dog hasn’t been informed of the fairy tale. The Innocent is reinforced in the fairy tale by breeders who agree that the stories about these dogs are all lies, after all, look how sweet he is to the prospective buyer. The Innocent doesn’t understand what “fierce protector of home and hearth, averse to strangers” means, doesn’t know a secret language has been developed since these breeds started causing so much tragedy. She likes the idea of proving to all the world that even these dogs fit her fairy tale, and that they are the poor victims of vicious anti-animal propaganda. The Egotistical Innocent is delighted with her puppy and sees him as a sort of four-legged human baby. She doesn’t see that the pup is playing in an abnormally aggressive way at the age of eight weeks already. She is dumbfounded on the day when her “puppy,” who meantime is actually a young dog, suddenly, out of the blue (because the warning phase has been bred out of these dogs), launches an unbridled attack on another dog and seriously wounds or kills the other dog. She is stricken and disillusioned – not only about the suffering of the attacked dog, but also because her fairy tale has caved in. But not to worry. It only takes her a few days to restore her view of the world. She decides her dog is as sweet as she’d thought after all. After thinking awhile, she realizes the whole thing was the other dog’s fault. After all, the other dog growled at her sweetie, so what else could her sweetie do but defend himself? Sometimes the Egotistical Innocent will cry out that German shepherds bite too, or that even a dachshund can be dangerous under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, there is always a way for people who don’t want to face realities. The great tragedy is that the Egotistical Innocent’s dog will harm or kill many other dogs, because she continues to take him to dog parks, in the belief that it’s up to the other dogs to make sure they don’t get killed.

Fact: This Myth is true in the sense that these dogs always have the wrong owners, people who shouldn’t have a dog in the first place. However, this Myth is false because it’s the genetics of the dog that make him a killer, regardless of what kind of owner he has. In other words, these dogs aren’t killers because they have the wrong owners, rather they attract the wrong owners because they are killers.

Brown, S-E, The human-animal bond and self-psychology: Toward a new understanding, Society & Animals, electronic version, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003.
Burrows, TJ, Fielding, WJ, Views of college students on pit bull “ownership”: New Providend, The Bahamas, Society & Animals, Vol. 13, No. 2, 139-152, 2005.
Frommer, SS, Arluke, A, Loving them to death: blame-displacing strategies of animal shelter workers and surrenderers, Society & Animals, Volume 7, Number 1, 1999.
Peremans, K, Functional brain imaging of the dog; single photon emission tomography as a research and clinical tool for the investigation of canine brain physiology and pathophysiology, Universiteit Gent, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gent, 2002. http://www.uznuclear.ugent.be/research/phd_dissertations/Functional_Brain_LowRes.pdf
Oral history collected from dog owners in The Hague, 1994-2009.

From: Semyonova, A, The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs, The Hastings Press, England, 2009, pages 125 – 127. (Check side bar for purchasing options)

Recommended reading to enhance your understanding of this serious problem:

On pit bulls and their owners. Kenneth Phillips, 17 Barks, September 5, 2013

Personality and Behavioral Characteristics of Owners of Vicious Breeds of Dog. Kenneth Phillips, dogbitelaw.com

Vicious dogs: the antisocial behaviors and psychological characteristics of owners.  Ragatz L1, Fremouw W, Thomas T, McCoy K., Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2009 May; 54(3):699-703.

Ownership of high-risk ("vicious") dogs as a marker for deviant behaviors: implications for risk assessment. Barnes JE1, Boat BW, Putnam FW, Dates HF, Mahlman AR. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2006 Dec; 21(12):1616-34.

Psychological Characteristics Owners of High Risk for Aggression Dog Breeds. Stanley Coren. Psychology Today,

Do Owners and Their Dogs Have Similar Personalities? Stanley Coren. Psychology Today,

What an Aggressive Dog Says About its Owner. Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience, May 24, 2012

Owners of Aggressive Dog Breeds Are More Hostile. Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience, August 09, 2012


The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs - Alexandra Semyonova

Myth 99: Scientists know what they are talking about because they study animals in an objective way. 

We have seen that many scientists who make statements about dogs have never really studied dogs. Many of them simply adopted our Nazi Nobel Prize winner’s story about dogs, ignoring the fact that the man’s specialty was birds. Some simply went along with the idea that once you’ve looked at wolves, you don’t need to look at dogs. The scientists who have studied dogs have done it either in highly unnatural circumstances (the lab), or they’ve only watched the dogs for short intervals. But all the same, they make sweeping – and, as we have now seen, incorrect – statements about the domestic dog, claiming to know what it is and how it works. We have all been taught to believe that science is able to protect itself from such blunders. So the question arises as to why science has been blundering along this way about dogs, producing more fantasy than facts about them. In this chapter, we’ll look at a number of the things that are behind this.

    A huge, almost religious romance has been built up around science in our day. This romance states that science is in the business of constantly turning itself upside down and inside out in the search for truth. We look at scientists with awe, as if they are a special species and a sort of super humans. The fact is, scientists are ordinary human beings just like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us, scientists have egos. They are subject to pressure to produce, same as the rest of the labour force. Publishing articles fast and frequently helps a scientist’s career more than less frequent, but more valid, publications would. Like us, scientists want to be able to pay the mortgage, keep the kids at the private schools and buy a new car next year. Research funding and university jobs are scarce, and there is fierce competition for them. The older generation is ever watchful that the ideas of some young, coming colleague don’t overturn their own, old theories, the ones they’ve built their senior careers on. It’s not so hard to keep some uppity young thing from getting a teaching position. It isn’t hard to prevent a younger colleague from publishing, or at least to delay this, and if this fails, well, you can always manipulate the citation index (see text box below).

    As a result of all this, science, itself, is organized in a strictly structured (and enforced) hierarchy – scientists spend their lives moving within a dominance hierarchy they are never allowed to forget, always watching out whether they are stepping on higher ranked toes. For example, at scientific congresses, an insider can see at a glance who the Alpha leaders are just by looking at the seating arrangement. The closer to the front, the higher the rank. You ask difficult questions of those sitting behind you, but not those in front of you. You interrupt those behind you to correct a mistake, but not those in front of you. If you disobey these rules, you run the risk of torpedoing your own chances of getting good teaching or research positions, of being cited enough to count, and thus of ever building a scientific career.

The citation index

The fact that both academic career and scientific prestige are so dependent on publishing has led to the churning out of much trivial, irrelevant or even spurious work. Under the publish or perish pressure, some scientists have gone so far as to falsify data. Some have even published articles about research that never really took place. In the end, the problem of low quality publications reached such proportions that publication alone was abandoned as a criterion for estimating a researcher’s worth. Privately, inside the club, some of the most brilliant scientists openly acknowledge that you have as much chance of finding quality work in the scientific journals as you do on the Internet, where any nut (be it a brilliant nut or be it just a nut) can write and publish as s/he pleases. As both university administrators and the general public began to get wind of this problem, a solution had to be found – some way to more validly estimate the quality of a researcher’s work. They came up with the citation index. This is published by organizations that keep track of how much one scientist’s published work is cited by other scientists in their footnotes and bibliographies. The presumption is that scientists will tend to use high quality work as sources for their own. This presumption was justified by the fact that Nobel Prize winners turned out, up to 1965, to indeed have been cited about 40 times as often as other colleagues (despite the fact that these Nobel Prize winners only published about five times as much).

But of course, water always seek the lowest level – and scientists are, just like the rest of us, about 60% water. Once the citation index was instituted as a basis for getting jobs and prestige, people immediately began manipulating the index. All you have to do is cite your friends and ignore your competitors whenever possible. Yet again, this has taken such a flight that no one really takes the various indexes entirely seriously anymore. Some scientists openly and publicly ridicule them, while others (guess who) avidly defend them. Everyone recommends, at any rate, not using them as the sole measure of a researcher’s scientific worth.
End text box

    In a nutshell, science is partly an honest search for founded knowledge, but it is also partly a complicated ritual dance about ranks and status and damned be the truth. And of course, the young scientist must, like all young animals, survive in the environment s/he lives in. It is, thus, not so easy to contradict a Nobel Prize winner (at least not while he’s still alive). And when you live and move daily in a world that is organized by the principle of a strict dominance hierarchy and ever-guarded ranks, it’s not so easy to see when you are projecting this onto others (in particular when the others can’t speak to correct you).

    Then there’s a second problem with the objectivity of science: scientists are still mostly men. We all know (and it has been proven repeatedly) that men tend to use competitive strategies in dealing with group membership, whereas women tend to use cooperative strategies. As we look at the world around us, we all refer to our own inner experience and motivation as we try to understand and explain it. It can’t be otherwise, this is true of all humans. Our own experience of the world affects which things we find important enough to study at all, which questions we then pose, which things we think are relevant (and thus which things we count), and how we interpret whatever results our studies turn up. Because of this, it’s inevitable that the pretty much exclusive presence of men in science has led to some distortions in the way the world is researched and interpreted. This might not be so important when we’re looking at non-living things, but when it comes to interpreting the behavior of living creatures this is a serious failing. This projection of purely male, competitive psychology onto reality has given us many faulty theories about the world of the living. The theory that non-human animals are constantly constructing competitive hierarchies isn’t the only one. Freud’s theory that incest doesn’t really occur, that this is just four-year-old girls having fantasies about sleeping with their fathers, came from the same place.

    Then there’s this other thing about having mostly men do science. Recent research (published by The Scientific American) has shown that men engage in science in a different way than women do. Men are more preoccupied with career building and tend to be focused on publishing a lot and fast. Women tend to be more concerned with doing really thorough research, even if this slows down their rate of publication. In other words, women tend to do better science than men, but the rules of the game mean that this slows down their careers. This doesn’t mean that all men are inferior scientists. It does mean that it isn’t always the best scientists who end up at the top of the hierarchy, with the most prestige.

    When we are talking about the sciences that study animal behavior, there is a third thing that gets in the way of objectivity. We now know that science often attract people who have various, more or less serious, autism related disorders, perhaps in particular Asperger’s syndrome. This turned out, in 2006, to be the explanation for a small epidemic of autistic disorders among school-going children in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. A world wide electronics company had established a large scientific research centre in that city, which – as it turned out – had attracted an unusual concentration of parents (scientists employed by the company) who themselves suffered from these heritable disorders. One of the typical symptoms of these disorders is that the bearer has difficulty with social and communicative skills. They often have difficulty conceiving of the other as a living being with its own inner world of knowledge, feelings, beliefs and intentions that are not the same as his/her own: they lack the ability to feel empathy. They tend to have difficulty with social and emotional reciprocity. People with these disorders are particularly bad at reading non-verbal language and social signals. Because of this, they often have trouble responding appropriately in social contexts or communicating their own inner world. There has not yet been any large scale investigation into exactly how many scientists have autism related disorders, nor whether they are concentrated in particular fields of study. Until these questions are answered, it is probably a good idea to be reserved about believing any statements scientists make about the behavior of animals.  First we need to know how many of the observers we have appointed to this task are really capable of understanding another’s behavior at all.

    But we aren’t done yet. When we are talking about animals, we are talking about non-verbal creatures, whose only means of expressing themselves is body language. Among humans, about seventy percent of the information that is conveyed in a conversation is conveyed non-verbally, by our facial expressions, tone of voice, body postures and positions. Among animals, one hundred percent of the information is conveyed this way. Now of course, not all scientists have autism related problems with this – but it remains a problem that most scientists are men. Men in general are infamously (and scientifically proven) bad at reading what we call body language, at any rate they are much worse at it than women. So it is, yet again, questionable whether we can and should put our trust in what are, evidently, our least capable observers when we want to understand the behavior of animals.

    If we take all of the above together, this may explain why so many scientists still, some three hundred fifty years later, embrace Descartes’ view of the animal as a machine, a sort of program-driven automaton that is without feelings, without any kind of thoughts, completely different and separate from humans. It is, in scientific circles, still taboo to contradict this idea. The word “anthropomorphic” appears instantly as a reproach, and as proof that you must be fairly worthless and quite misguided as a scientist. [Anthropomorphism means assigning human qualities to non-human objects.] This is often still the case even when it’s about something as evident as the fact that other mammals feel pain. The accusation of anthropomorphism is usually paired with ridicule and laughter.

    Because of all this, science moves only very slowly in correcting the flaws I point out in this book. We know now how similar our anatomies and brains are to those of other animals (and where they aren’t similar), including the functions of all kinds of body and brain structures, processes and parts. We know now that we differ genetically from a rabbit only by about fifteen percent – which means that a large number of our own genes are executing the same programs they execute in other animals. Despite this, scientists are still amazed when, for example, a creature as simple as a crow is able to make plans, to use tools and to complete complicated tasks (a thing any farmer could have told them three hundred years ago, had they bothered to ask, and if they hadn’t laughed so contemptuously at him). And, after watching the crow make plans, use tools, and do complicated assignments, they still continue to insist that the same crow is unable to feel (for example) pain as we feel it. In a nutshell, science now has to deny many known facts because of adopting an incorrect viewpoint three hundred fifty years ago, one which is now very difficult to abandon without great loss of face. But of course, it could be less nefarious. It could be a kind of innocence operating. It could be that scientists are just genuinely unable to adapt to changes, preferring to continue their repetitive movements according to their set pattern, because they are semi-autistic and can’t understand the meaning of it all, or why it would matter anyway. The ridiculing laughter may be nothing more than the defensive autistic panic reaction when confronted with a part of the universe they aren’t even able to perceive, let alone understand. This, too, is possible.

    Another reason science moves so slowly is the obsession with measurement and quantification. You might think you see a thing, but it doesn’t really exist until you have measured it. This is something that fits into the pattern of autism, but it is also (to be fair) a kind of honest hope that measurement and quantification will (albeit magically) insure objectivity. This wouldn’t be so bad if scientists had said you don’t understand a thing until you’ve measured it. But alas, this isn’t what they came up with, and this is a source of huge problems with science. Many aspects of reality are simply denied as even existing, simply because we can’t measure them (yet). The shock at discovering how few genes we have and the conclusion that we really aren’t so different from other animals as we thought, is just one example. Another problem is that the fixation with quantification leads science to focus on things we can measure instead of concentrating on things that are really relevant. A question that can’t be answered with quantitative data and a statistics program, in an article of not more than seven pages length (including diagrams and tables), is set aside – you can’t publish about it anyway, so why be interested? Even scientists are complaining that this attitude has led to stagnation in the formation of theory in favour of measuring all kinds of irrelevant trivia. A final problem is that if you want to measure aspects of living beings, you have to create highly artificial circumstances and situations. This means your measurements no longer reflect the real world, and that your measurements are, therefore, very often irrelevant or even banal. This has sometimes led to surprising results, to the measurement of things that turned out not really to exist – things that were a temporary result of the artificial circumstances, which ceased to exist as soon as the artificial circumstances are removed. The dominance hierarchy within a wolf pack is an example of this. Our puppies fighting over a bone in the lab is another one.

Fact: Scientists have forgotten that one of the things they should be observing most (if they want to claim objectivity) is their own behavior. They have forgotten to watch out for how their own psychology is determining what they see. They have been too unaware that they are, like any other animal, projecting their own inner world onto the outer world and calling this the only true reality.

Fact: So there we are. There are huge unsolved problems in the sciences. All kinds of human interests, biases, and limitations play a bigger role than we acknowledge, despite sometimes honest attempts to correct these. We would all do well to keep a healthy dose of scepticism as we listen to what the scientists are telling us about dogs. You don’t have to (and can’t) assume you always know better, but you can – just to be sure – refrain from letting them talk you into doing anything that you suspect may be cruel.

Animals “projecting”

Most animals do not have the large areas of the brain that give us our abstract cognitive abilities. Most animals don’t seem to have an abstract sense of self and other, nor the ability to abstractly think about themselves or themselves vs. the other. Animals operate within their perception of the world, without being able to stand back and observe themselves. They can’t think, “Gee, maybe the other is living in a different world of perception.”

As a result, many animals will interpret the behavior of another animal according to their own inner world. Some examples to clarify. When dogs bare their teeth, they are telling the other that they want distance and will use their weapons for it if they have to. When chimps bare their teeth, they are telling the other that they feel afraid. Unless the animal has a long learning experience of what it means when we show our teeth, the animal will respond as if our smile means the same thing it means for the animal’s own species. When a human smiles at a dog, many dogs take this to mean the human is hostile. When we smile at a chimp, a chimp may take this to mean we are fearful. The animals react to our approach accordingly, and according to the rules that govern their behavior with their own kind.

So male human scientists are just another kind of animal. They look at an animal and think, “when I behave that way, it means I have such-and-such a motive, so the animal must have that same motive now, too.”  And then they tell us to respond according to our human rules, just as any other non-cognitive animal would respond according to its own rules. The fact that scientists are so quick to accuse others of anthropomorphism illustrates how unconscious their own projections are.

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Semyonova's book is available at 
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amazon U.K.
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My Theory on why Pitbull advocates are ‘Nutters’

"Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not easy." – Aristotle

A few years ago, I experienced a serious pitbull attack that led to countless personal losses, I found myself outraged at the system that had enabled such attacks to occur in the first place. I mean isn’t Government supposed to protect innocent people from such unnecessary brutal and violent assaults? It didn’t take long for me to discover why, I soon learned there was an aggressive and outraged pitbull advocacy movement that had influenced Government and prevented reasonable protective legislation from being implemented. So I turned to social media to interact with these people, only to realize that they felt they were the aggrieved party, even though they had suffered no permanent  physical injury, as I had,  they had not lost the ability to walk or care for themselves for a substantial amount of time, as I had, they had suffered no large financial losses, as I had, they had never faced years of legal wrangling to seek compensation for their losses, as I had and they had not lost their business as I had.  The only loss it appears they had incurred is that people hurt their feelings because they were critical of the breed of dog they had chosen as a companion animal.  And yet their outrage was as if someone had murdered their entire family.  This disproportionate over reaction struck me as incredibly bizarre and until now I hadn’t been able to understand it sufficiently.

read the rest of Max Gold's story at


Legal Experts and the Enemy of Humanity

KENNETH PHILLIPS, Attorney for dog bite victims   (dogbitelaw.com)
In 2013, there have been 18 canine homicides of which 17 were committed by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Our dogs are not killing us. Pit bulls are killing us. And although pit bulls attack and kill strangers like Claudia Gallardo, 38 (killed by a pit bull in the front yard of its owner's house in Stockton, California) and Pamela Devitt, 63 (killed by 4 pit bulls running at large as she took a walk in Antelope Valley, California), the usual victims are our children, parents and guests.

I have come to believe that the modern pit bull should not be thought of as a dog at all. A dog is man’s best friend, but this is an animal that will kill the man, his wife, his children, his parents and the guests in his home. Clearly this is not man’s best friend; clearly it is not a “dog” in the sense that we think of a dog. Charles Manson was anatomically a man, sociologically a neighbor, and legally a citizen, but he is spending his life behind bars because he was a deranged individual who orchestrated mayhem and murder. Just because pit bulls look like dogs, they do not have to be thought of like we think about dogs such as golden retrievers and Yorkshire terriers.

In almost all homicides carried out by pit bulls, the owners and neighbors express shock and disbelief because the animal never gave a sign that it wanted to kill anyone. But to me, this is like a drunk driver expressing shock and disbelief that his car could kill. In both types of cases, a person made a choice to do something incredibly reckless, either by getting drunk or by getting the animal that makes headlines because of the frequency and brutality of its killing. We need to stop people from doing these reckless things.

Lawmakers have to stop listening to the nonsense about breed specific laws which is spouted by the owners of bully dogs like pit bulls. Since 2006 there have been 3 psychological studies which focused on the personality and behavioral traits of the owners of pit bulls and other high-risk breeds of dog. A study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence showed a link between ownership of high-risk dog breeds and deviant behaviors, crimes against children and domestic violence. Another study concluded that "vicious dog ownership may be a simple marker of broader social deviance." A third study established that the owners of high-risk breeds of dog displayed more antisocial thinking styles, have an arrest history significantly higher than owners of other dogs, and engage in fighting to a significantly greater degree than other dog owners. They also had higher levels of overall criminal thinking patterns to go with the actual criminal behavior. These people, who are fixated on the animals that kill, maim and terrorize, are not the people that a lawmaker needs in his camp. Reasonable people want fair laws that provide a solution to the obvious problems caused by pit bulls.

THOMAS J. MOYER, Chief Justice, Ohio Supreme Court 1987-2010
"The trial court cited the substantial evidence supporting its conclusion that pit bulls, compared to other breeds, cause a disproportionate amount of danger to people. The chief dog warden of Lucas County testified that: (1) when pit bulls attack, they are more likely to inflict severe damage to their victim than other breeds of dogs; (2) pit bulls have killed more Ohioans than any other breed of dog; (3) Toledo police officers fire their weapons in the line of duty at pit bulls more often than they fire weapons at people and all other breeds of dogs combined; (4) pit bulls are frequently shot during drug raids because pit bulls are encountered more frequently in drug raids than any other dog breed.... The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens from the danger posed by this breed of domestic dogs."

Despite plaintiffs' contention that there is no such animal as a pit bull, plaintiffs' own experts have written articles about their pedigreed dogs referring to them by the common nickname of pit bull. At trial, these experts identified photographs of dogs as pit bulls, rather than delineating the dogs into any one of the three breeds recognized by the kennel clubs. Moreover, veterinarians commonly identify dogs as pit bulls -- rather than one of the three recognized breeds -- by their physical characteristics. Two veterinarians, testifying for the defendants, stated that they are often called upon to identify a dog's breed because it is an integral part of the animal's health record. This they do by reference to standard physical characteristics. Generally, these veterinarians testified, owners themselves know what breed their dog is.

There was ample testimony that most people know what breed their dogs are. Although the plaintiffs and their experts claim that the ordinance does not give them enough guidance to enable owners to determine whether their dogs fall within its scope, the evidence established that the plaintiffs themselves often use the term "pit bull" as a shorthand method of referring to their dogs. Numerous magazine and newspaper articles, including articles in dog fancier magazines, refer to pit bull dogs. Veterinarians typically refer to the three recognized breeds and mixed breeds with conforming characteristics as pit bulls. In addition, the veterinarians who testified stated that most of their clients know the breeds of their dogs.

DON BAUERMEISTER, Council Bluffs, IA prosecutor

KORY NELSON, Denver, CO City Attorney
The most significant point about the justification for bans or restrictions of pit bulls is that these are not dependent upon a claim that every pit bull has a higher than average propensity for attacking humans. The justification is based on the clear evidence that, as a group, pit bulls, compared to other breeds, generally have a higher propensity to exhibit unique behavioral traits during an attack. These behaviors havea higher likelihood of causing more severe injuries or death. The Colorado Dog Fanciers trial court made this clear, stating that, while it could not be proven that pit bulls bite more than other dogs, there was “credible evidence that Pit Bull dog attacks are more severe and more likely to result in fatalities.” The court, in great detail, noted fourteen separate areas of differences, including: strength, manageability and temperament, unpredictability of aggression, tenacity, pain tolerance and manner of attack.

A municipality that is experiencing a problem with pit bull attacks needs to consider for itself the best course of action to protect its citizens, especially those most likely to be unable to defend themselves from the tenacious and sustained attack of a pit bull, who will likely bite, hold, and tear at its victim despite efforts to stop it. However, given the clear rational evidence, breed-specific legislation is still a legally viable option.There is no new evidence that undermines the holdings of Colorado Dog Fanciers, only new relevant evidence that adds additional support for BSL, as the differential treatment of pit bulls is based upon logical, rational evidence from the scientific field of ethology.

BOB JOHNSTONE, Cincinnati, OH city attorney

A pit bull is the closest thing to a wild animal there is in a domesticated dog.

Laws for the protection of domestic animals are regarded as having but a limited application to dogs and cats; and, regardless of statute, a ferocious dog is looked upon as hostis humani generis, and as having no right to his life which man is bound to respect.


The science of how behavior is inherited in aggressive dogs by Alexandra Semyonova

From Animals  24-7

    Probably most people recognize that every dog breed results from human manipulation of inherited physical traits. 
    Until recently,  most people probably also recognized that much dog behavior is also a result of manipulating inheritance:  if you want to do sheep trials,  you get a border collie.  If you get a beagle,  he will likely become instantly deaf to your calls if he picks up a scent to track.
    But after discussion started about perhaps banning breeds who often attack and kill,  defenders of these breeds began to dispute the heritability of any kind of dog behavior.


    Only when behavioral inheritance is understood,  beginning with basic biological concepts,  can we have a clear and honest discussion about aggression in domestic dogs.  First we must understand the relationship between “physical conformation” and “behavioral conformation,”  which may be seen as opposite sides of the same coin.
    “Physical conformation” describes how a dog has been bred to become physically shaped specifically for the task we want him to perform.  The purpose-bred dog’s body––brain,  skeleton,  muscles,  and metabolism––will be different from those of other dogs. The dog will feel physically comfortable doing the job,  whatever it is. 
    The border collie is physically designed for the stalking stance and for switching easily and often from standing to lying down to standing again.  A greyhound enjoys sprinting,   with a deep chest that easily provides enough oxygen to the dog’s muscles to fuel a burst of high speed.  The same deep chest means the greyhound cannot run marathons because the deep chest prevents a greyhound from losing heat efficiently. 
    The greyhound’s brain has been shaped by selective breeding to steer the legs in a gait that provides maximum speed in a sprint.  The unique composition of a husky’s skeleton,  muscles and brain enables a husky to pull a sled with a different gait,  and to sustain a brisk pace for long distances. 
    The greyhound runs by leaping,  the husky by pushing,  always with one foot on the ground.  Each dog is genetically wired to use the specific body the dog has.
    Dog breeders have for centuries selected for particular traits by simply watching how a dog performs.  They have bred dogs for specific tasks by removing the dogs who perform less well from their breeding stock.  Sometimes they will cross in a dog breed they think will add traits to perform the task better.  Breeders select for performance without always knowing exactly which traits they are breeding for.  For example,  until recently no one realized the husky was being bred for a particular heat economy;  they just chose the dogs who kept running the longest. Eventually, successful breeders produce dogs who are physically shaped to do the dog’s task better than any other dog,  no matter how well the other dog is trained.
    “Physical conformation” leads to “behavioral conformation.”  First of all, each dog’s brain is genetically predisposed to grow to efficiently direct the body it is born in.  Then the dog’s brain adapts itself further to the body it is in as it grows in the developing puppy.  There is no gene for running or stalking,  but there are genes that give a dog four legs and make those legs longer,  shorter,  more or less flexible, and so forth.  It is because of the action of the genes that confer differently shaped bodies and brains that the pointer enjoys pointing,  the border collie stalks and stares,  the Newfoundland floats in cold water,  and so on.

Selecting for aggression

     Just as we cannot make a dog into something the dog has no genetic capacity to be,  we cannot prevent a dog from being what the dog is genetically predisposed to be.  Because inherited postures and behaviors are suitable for the body and brain the dog was born with,  they are internally motivated and internally rewarded:  they feel good. This means that inherited behaviorial traits are practically impossible to extinguish by manipulating external environmental stimuli. 
    In breeding dogs to perform certain tasks or have a certain look,  humans often select (sometimes inadvertently) for abnormalities in body and behavior.  We do this by looking for mutations and then breeding for them,  or by crossing breeds to get combinations of traits.   to speed the process up. A clear case of this is the old English bull dog,  who can hardly walk,  hardly breathe,  and cannot be born except by Caesarean section. The bull dog has also been crossed into other breeds by people who wanted to increase aggression in a breed without waiting for mutations to appear.
    There is such a thing as normal aggression in dogs,  as in all animals. Maternal defensiveness,  territorial defense,  and predatory behavior and depend on different neuronal and hormonal mechanisms,  and are all normal coping responses. These dog behaviors have been accepted by humans in the process of domestication,  as long as the behaviors can be foreseen.
    But abnormal disinhibited behavior is not functional,  and it is unpredictable.  Although high arousal and sudden attack can be functional in certain environments,  this behavior is pathological in a safer environment,  where a high level of arousal and aggressivity are not necessary and only lead to unnecessary attacks and injuries.   Research implicates the frontal cortex,  subcortical structures,  and lowered activity of the serotonergic system in impulsive aggression in both dogs and humans. Impulsive aggressive behavior in dogs seems to have a different biological basis than appropriate aggressive behavior.
    Kathelijne Peremans,  DVM discovered this by studying two different populations of impulsively aggressive dogs.  Each dog had executed one or more attacks without the classical preceding warnings,  and the severity of the attacks was out of all proportion to environmental stimuli.  Peremans found a significant difference in the frontal and temporal cortices of these dogs,  but not in the subcortical areas,  compared to normal dogs.  Peremans also found significant dysfunctions of the serotonergic systems among these dogs. Serotonergic dysfunction has been widely shown in many different species to be connected to abnormal, impulsive aggression.
    Peremans studied dogs of various breeds,  selected purely on the basis of their behavior.  Peremans was not interested in implicating any particular breed, but rather in finding the mechanism behind the behavior in any dog it occurred in.   She found that all of the dogs with a history of abnormal impulsive aggression shared the same physical abnormalities in the brain.  The gender of the dog made no difference.  Neither did whether the dog was castrated or spayed.
    Peremans left open the possibility that we will later find other physical factors that contribute to abnormal impulsive aggression.  For example,  the adrenergic system may also play an important role.

Heritability of behavior

    Another researcher,  Linda Van Den Berg,  investigated specifically the heritability of impulsive aggression among golden retriever,  a breed rarely involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks.  The goal was find out whether impulsive aggressive behavior was inherited in those few golden retrievers who exhibit it,  and if so,  to isolate the gene responsible for the behavior.   Van Den Berg found high heritability of impulsive aggression,  but did not succeed in isolating the responsible gene(s).
    The heritability of abnormal aggression in certain breeds of dogs can no longer be denied.  The bodies of these dogs have been selected to execute a killing bite more efficiently than other breeds.  These dogs share physical conformation to the task of killing,  including exaggerated jaw muscles,  heavy necks and shoulders, and body mass that makes defense against an attack much more difficult.  Among people who want dogs who can kill,  these are the breeds of choice because they are physically more fit for it than other breeds.
    But breeders also selected for behavioral conformation.  To perform well,  a fighting dog had to attack without provocation or warning,  and to continue attacking regardless of the response of the other animal.   Bull and bear-baiting dogs had to be willing to attack in the absence of the species-specific signs that normally provoke aggression, responding to the mere presence of another animals,  and not stopping in  response to external stimuli.  The Dogues du Bordeaux used to guard extended farmlands in France,  the Boerbulls used similarly in South Africa,   and the fugitive  slave-chasing dogs of Latin America,  such as the Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasiliero,  all were selected to specifically for a propensity to kill.
    As they selected for performance,  breeders could not know exactly which physical changes they were selecting for.  But research now shows that selection for aggressive performance includes consistently selecting for very specific abnormalities in the brain. These abnormalities appear in many breeds of dog as an accident or anomaly, which breeders then attempt to breed out of the dogs.  In the case of the aggressive breeds,  the opposite occurred. Rather than excluding abnormally aggressive dogs from their breeding stock,  breeders focused on creating lineages in which all the dogs would carry the genes causing them to reliably exhibit the desired impulsive aggressive behavior.
    Now that we know exactly which brain abnormalities the breeders of fighting dogs have been selecting,  the assertion that this aggression is not heritable is no longer tenable. It is also not tenable to assert that not all the dogs of these breeds will carry the genes that make them dangerous.  These genes may occasionally drop out through random accident,  just as golden retriever may acquire the genes to be impulsively aggressive.  But the failure to have these gene,  in the aggressive breeds,  is just that––a failure.  It is therefore misleading to assert that the aggressive breeds will only have the selected genes as a matter of accident,  or that most of them will be fit to interact safely with other animals and humans. 
    As in the pointer,  the husky,  the greyhound,  and the border collie,  the genes of aggressive breeds have been selected so that certain postures and behaviors just simply feel good.  These dogs will seek opportunities to execute the behaviors they have been bred for.  Because these behaviors are internally motivated and rewarded,  they are not subject to extinction.  Learning and socialization do not prevent these dogs’ innate behaviors from appearing. 
    Environments such as the fighting pit,  confrontations with tethered bulls and bears,  and the pursuit of escaping slaves,  for which these behaviors were selected as an adaptive response,  are so extreme that there is no appropriate context for these behaviors in normal life.  Functional in the pit or facing the bull or bear,  these behaviors must,  in all other contexts, be called pathological. Because the behavior selected for was impulsive aggression,  by definition this behavior will always emerge suddenly and unpredictably.     
    Speculating in favor of the aggressive breeds,  suppose that human artificial selection will fail as infrequently in the aggressive breeds as it does in the golden retriever.  Van Den Berg found impulsive aggression in approximately one out of a hundred golden retrievers.   If behavioral selection fails comparably often in fighting breeds,  there is only a 1% chance that their keepers will not endanger others in their surroundings.

Can aggression be bred out?

    Can impulsive aggressive behavior be bred out of fighting breeds?
    The fiction that, for example, the American Staffordshire terrier is a different dog from the pit bull,  just because the breeding has (also fictionally, by the way) been going on separately for several decades is just that:  a fiction. 
    The Russian researcher Dmitry Kontanovich Belyaev reported that he had bred fear out of foxes in only eighteen generations,  but impulsive aggression is a more complex response and much more dangerous to live with while you try to breed it out. Further,  Belyaev’s foxes were bred under laboratory conditions,  where there was absolute control over not having the wrong genes creep back in again.
    As Belyaev bred his foxes into the pettable creatures he wanted,  they began to have an increasingly floppy-eared mutt exterior.  Belyaev’s discoveries suggest that the interface of physical and behavioral conformation mean it is not possible to breed out the impulsive aggressive behavior of fighting dogs while retaining their shape and appearance. 
    Form follows function:  one cannot have a dog whose entire body and brain are adapted to executing the killing bite,  without having a dog who will execute the killing bite.
    [Alexandra Semyonova,  a dog behaviorist and former Dutch SPCA inspector,   is author of The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs (Hastings Press,  2009.)]

 The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs, Alexandra Semyonova

U.S. amazon kindle


The Myth of the Herding Pit Bull Farm Dog

All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth. Friedrich Nietzche

Trying to find objective third party evidence to back up the bogus claim that pit bulls were once used as farm dogs and herded cattle, was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Of course nearly every pit bull propaganda website regurgitates that claim but the real world and the fantasy world that pit bull advocates occupy more often than not contradict each other.

Herding Dogs

Here's what Ledy VanKavage's former employer, the ASPCA had to say about pit bulls and herding:
The Pit Bull Today

Most experts agree that today’s pit bull is a short-coated dog characterized by a wide skull, powerful jaws and a muscular, stocky body. But there is great variation in the pit bull’s appearance. Typically 35 to 65 pounds, some weigh as little as 25 pounds, while others tip the scales at 80 pounds or more. Some have bulkier frames and colossal skulls; others have leaner, more muscular bodies. All are strong and athletic. With their impressive stamina and staunch work ethic, pit bulls enjoy a variety of activities, including agility, disc dog competitions, flyball, freestyle and competition obedience. They often excel in weight-pulling contests and schutzhund. Some pit bulls work cattle in herding trials, and some still function as hunting dogs.
There is the fantasy world of versatile herding pit bulldogs and then there is the reality of pit bulldogs herding cattle.

I managed to find a couple of videos of pit bulls "herding" sheep. My favorite is Hagrid the Herder. Watch this video closely. During the 5 minutes Hagrid is in the pen, he is given time outs at :50, 1:49, 2:27, 2:57 and 3:35. Notice how small the pen is and how close the handler stays to the sheep. Also note that the handler doesn't use the standard flimsy whip to keep the pit bull at bay, he uses a rake. The handler excessively praises the pit bull and is constantly making physical contact with the pit bull.

Herding Instinct Tests

According to the American Kennel Club, "The purpose of noncompetitive herding tests is to offer herding breed owners a standardized gauge by which a dog's basic instinct and trainability are measured."

"The purpose of the competitive herding trial program is to preserve and develop the herding skills inherent in the herding breeds and to demonstrate that they can perform the useful functions for which they were originally bred. Although herding trials are artificial simulations of pastoral or farm situations, they are standardized tests to measure and develop the characteristics of the herding breeds."

The AKC defines Herding Instinct as follows: The inherited balance in a dog’s temperament, between the predatory drive and the dog’s submission to its master. The stronger the herding instinct, the stronger must be the desire to comply with the commands of the handler. 

8 month old Border Collie

9 month old Sheltie

6 month old Aussie

Kelpie (young!)


Corgi (never seen a sheep before this test)

11 month old GSD

Now that you have seen what REAL herding dogs go through to achieve their herding instinct certification, let's watch a purebred american pit bull terrier earn his herding instinct certificate.

You can also watch this on a larger screen on youtube.


Notice how the handler keeps her body between her pit bull and the sheep as they circle the small flock and she stays a good 20-30 feet from the sheep at all times. This sheep owner should be ashamed for participating in this sham.

This is how pit bull advocates are able to claim that their dogs can do it all. I do not believe that Jaeger legitimately earned that certificate. Either CARLA ANN THOMAS greased someone's palm to sign off on this test or Jaeger did not pass and she is lying. I will attempt to answer that question elsewhere.

Same here. This APBT earned his herding instinct title while LEASHED.

According to WorkingDogs.com, the dogs are to be tested off leash. This website has a good overview of the test. The author of this page acknowledges the subjectivity of the testers and how they evaluate and grant titles for dogs.

From the AKC Herding Regulations
Amended to August 2008

Section 4. Qualifications. The total number of
qualifications necessary to complete the requirements
for a Herding Instinct Certificate and for the issuance of
the titles Herding Tested Dog (HT) and Pre-Trial Tested
Dog (PT) shall be established by the Board of Directors
of The American Kennel Club.
The Judge’s certification of qualification for any particular
dog constitutes certification to The American Kennel Club
that the dog on this particular occasion has evidenced abilities
at least in accordance with minimum standards and that
the abilities demonstrated would justify the awarding of the
title associated with the particular test class. Qualification
must never be awarded to a dog, which exhibits abilities that
do not meet minimum requirements.
In Instinct Test the dog must show sustained interest
in herding livestock, either going around them, gathering
them and moving them toward the handler, or moving
them ahead of the handler to drive them or a combination.
For boundary, the dog should show sustained interest in
working the livestock and honor the border.
In tests, dogs must demonstrate the ability to move and
control livestock by fetching or driving, and be sufficiently
trained to work at the proper balance point to move the
stock forward on the course. Dogs that constantly prevent
the stock from being moved in a controlled fashion, or that
chase or harass the stock, will not qualify.
Dogs may continue to enter tests to gain experience
after the title for that class is earned with no entry

Section 5. Instinct Tested Certificate.
American Kennel Club will issue an Instinct Tested certificate
to an eligible dog that has been certified by two
different Judges to have qualified by passing two separate
licensed or member Herding Instinct Tests.

Section 6. Instinct Test Description and Test
The dog is brought into the arena on a long
line approximately 6-15 feet in length. At some point
while on the line, the dog must demonstrate a stop (down,
sit or stand) and a recall before the line is dropped or
removed. A dog, which cannot be recalled, shall not be
let off line. Dogs must be immediately removed from the
ring if physical force is necessary to protect stock from
the dog.

Either the two women involved in the herding instinct tests above are lying or they have found some unscrupulous individuals willing to sign off on anything that pays the entry fee.

There is not a whole lot of buzz on the pit forums about herding and it is understandable when you look at the above rules and regulations. I did find two interesting discussions about herding. On pit bull chat forum. A member is interested in trying it with her pit. One member suggests using a muzzle to be safe, while another states "While I love APBT's.... terriers often don't make good herding drive. They lack the gathering instinct that the prey drive has developed into. That said, if you can afford to reimburse the trainer for dead sheep, go right on ahead! Herding is really fun!"

A member on chazhound broaches the question of herding with pit bulls and the responses are equally interesting. i have used them as rec herders we used to have a cattle ranch and i would take them out with a few cows and work with them herding them. Never anything serious tho. Our sheltar and farm dogs did that. 

My dogs would love to herd livestock........then bring them down. But baiting bulls/livestock is in there blood so for me to expect them to be perfect gentlemen/ladies around large animals might be asking too much. It honestly depends on the animal/dog aggression within that dog. And I've seen a case where someone brought their very submissive non-DA 'pit bull' out to the barn & it seems instinct took over. The dog however ended up with the brunt of the damage after being ganged up on by 2 of the horses (1 of them the one he was going after).

What does the Bulldog Diva, Diane Jessup have to say on the subject?
Because I titled Dread in duck and sheep herding and trialed him a time or two on cattle, as well as earning "Herding Certificates" (not really a training title) on several other pit bulls, people often ask me about information on this activity. To be truthful, it is not something I recommend. Today's herding trials are not a fair venue for these "catch dogs". Bulldogs can and do move stock, but that is not their real purpose. Their purpose is to catch and hold.
Today's herding trials are so much more risky than real world "herding" of yesteryear (sarcasm again). That might have something to do with society progressing towards more humane attitudes and behavior towards animals. The baiting activities that pit bulldogs were originally bred for was criminalized in England in 1835.

There will always be X number of duds within each breed. A dud being a dog that lacks all ability to function as originally intended. I do think that a few select people can exert sufficient control over even fewer select pit bulldogs long enough to pass these tests but no one with half a brain would trust a pit bulldog to round up their sheep or function in an unsupervised capacity as a farm dog.

The herding instinct titles on these two pit bulls are even more worthless than the ATTS.

Farm Dogs

The farm dog myth goes something like this, early immigrants brought their cherished bulldogs with them to America where they continued their role as loyal hard working family members on american family farms.

My search for references to pit bulldogs functioning as all purpose farm dogs on non-pro pit bull propaganda web sites and books proved to be as futile as finding objective third party references to the pit bull as herding dog. 

I haven't been able to find even a rough date when bulldogs began to invade our shores but at the very latest, they came here in the late 1700's as President Thomas Jefferson reportedly had a couple of bulldogs.

In 1800, 94% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. That means nearly every american lived on a small family farm. They grew their own vegetables, raised their own chickens, milked their own cows and goats. Any dog owned by 94% of the population in 1800 could technically be labeled a farm dog. By 1920, half of the U.S. population lived in the country and half in the city.

Babe Ruth lived on a farm in the 1920's. He raised poultry and he owned pit bulldogs. Technically, you could call Babe Ruth's pit bulls "farm dogs", since they lived on a farm. But Babe Ruth's pit bulls didn't behave like farm dogs when they escaped containment and killed his chickens and a neighbor's cow. This behavior is the antithesis of a farm dog and like every early american would have done, Babe Ruth killed the dogs.

The most famous pit bulldog that is credited as being a "farm dog" is Laura Ingalls' Jack the Brindle Bulldog. In her books, Jack is credited with protecting the Ingalls from wolves and it was also noted that Jack needed to be tied up to keep him from attacking indians. There is no mention of Jack rounding up sheep or cattle. Jack functioned as a guard dog. Interestingly, the Ingall's loyal hard working "farm dog" was callously traded for a horse.

If you are like me, when someone says "farm dog", you picture a dog that adheres to the phenotype of collies and shepherds. Farm dogs were truly versatile dogs. They had to be, or like Babe Ruth's dogs, they would have become food for worms. Early americans could not afford to own dogs that viewed their family's food source and livelihood as prey. As I searched in vain for objective evidence to support the pit bull propaganda, I realized I needed to expand my breed net to find information about farm dogs in general.

Hobby Farms had an extensive list of "farm dog breeds" on their website, everything from collies and shepherds to flock guardians and hunting dogs, even rottweilers. But alas, no bulldogs or pit bulls.

Farmcollie.com proved to be a wealth of information. The description of the farmcollie reads exactly like the fantasy pit bull histories found on Badrap, the ASPCA and every other mom and pop pro-pit bull website. In fact, I thought that pit bull advocates likely stole the identity of the american farm collie for their own Machiavellian purposes; european roots, versatility, once the most popular breed, they even allude to the farm collie performing nanny dog type functions.

The American Working Farmcollie, also known as the Old Farm Shepherd, (Old Shep) was once the most popular dog in the country. As descendants of the Old Scotch Collie, the farmcollies were versatile dogs, indispensable to farmers in the 19th and early twentieth centuries. During that period, it was this dog that most Americans thought of as a “collie”, although they were quite different from the AKC collies of today. The Farmcollie in this country quite likely also carried the blood of other types of herding and shepherd dogs that were brought here from Europe, but he remained a dog that clearly showed his Scotch Collie heritage. Like the Scotch Collies, the American Farmcollies excelled at herding, guarding (both livestock and the family), hunting and predator control. Their duties varied from protecting the baby from snakes to moving the bull. Over the years, however, the focus of American life moved from the homestead to the urban areas, and as small farms became swallowed up in larger corporate farms or urban sprawl, the need for this type of all purpose farmdog had all but disappeared. In its place came myriads of specialized breeds---companion dogs, hunting dogs, guardian dogs and herding dogs.

Nope, no pit bulldogs in here.

farm breeds


Old-Time Farm Shepherd

Jack the Brindle Bulldog

1800 - 1990 changes urban rural us population

Old Time Farm Shepherd

Thomas Jefferson

Babe Ruth

pitbull-chat Herding!

chazhound pit bulls as herding dog

What To Expect from a Herding Instinct Test 

Herding on the web

Diane Jessup on Herding

Carla Ann Thomas and Jaeger