People often say, “they’re not like other dogs,” of their favorite breed. No one disputes selective breeding can influence behavior. We want to be able to predict the probable future behavior of dogs in order to choose appropriate companions and to anticipate problematic behaviors such as aggression toward humans. Most dog professionals have expectations about behavior based on breed, often assuming that each has a “hard wired” set of impulses that are particularly difficult to modify, even with sound training techniques.
We’ve learned the conventional professional wisdom which then guides our perceptions of our anecdotal experience, applied to both purebred and mixed breed dogs. But current research doesn’t offer much to support these biases, which rest on three assumptions:
- that dogs are readily identifiable as members of a particular breed;
- that behavior can be reliably predicted according to breed;
- and that the behaviors associated with specific breeds are relevant to the role of companion for human families.
This webinar will examine the current research relevant to these questions, including a brief history of the selection processes that brought us the modern purebred dog, issues of identification of mixed breed dogs, and some basic principles of behavioral genetics.