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Do dogs have instinctual behaviors specific to breed?

geoffh4
August 8th, 2007, 11:34 AM
Spaniels were trained to hunt birds. Are they likely to have instinctual hunting behaviors?

Are pointers able to point without training?

Are hearding dogs able to heard without training?

And does this apply to breeds that have been bred for fighting/guarding/etc? Are they more likely to fight/guard/etc without training than other breeds?

Thanks

erykah1310
August 8th, 2007, 01:36 PM
Well... its a basically simple question to answer yet sort of complicated too.
FOr the most part yes. Breeds that were bred for specific purposes are naturally good at their jobs and instinct of what ever it was is still there.
Most breeds bred for bull baiting or fighting hold ampathy towards other dogs. Dog aggression is a characteristic of their breed.
Spaniels, labs, Goldens ect... are naturally good retrievers, however... ( heres where it gets a tad tricky) conformation showing is slowly destroying many breeds natural instinct unfortunately ( IMO) There are many spaniels who would be useless in the feild as well as labs and goldens. Some of the breeds have now started branching into "bench" and "field". A "field" lab for example wouldnt stand a chance in the show ring but a show lab may not be able to preform the job they were initially bred for due to conformation standards.
Border Collies ( In canada anyways) are an unrecognized breed, there is no set standard for them, but MANY MANY BC's are still capable of being herding dogs. Without someone stating how the breed should look and people focusing more on their working abilities, its preserving this magnificent herder.

gtexan
August 8th, 2007, 01:56 PM
So then I guess my next question is how "instictual" is this behavior?
And at what age should you start to see the behavior start to develop?

If, for example, someone was to look at adopting a pitbull terrier, but wanted that dog to socialize well with other dogs, at what age would you be able to be "confident" that the new dog wouldn't be dog aggressive?

I guess I was always under the impression that
a) all dogs behaviors were attributable to their masters, meaning that aggressive dogs were trained that way and loving dogs were trained that way

and

b) all instictual behaviors appeared at early ages, and were easy to notice


Is it possible you could have a collie who is 1 or 2 years old who doesnt display any instictual behavior who begins trying to "herd" the animals in your house at 3 years old or
have a doberman at 6 months of age who shows no guarding or aggression but at 2 starts showing more of his instictual aggressive behaviors?

crazydays
August 8th, 2007, 02:11 PM
This topic is very interesting. I have never shown or trained my dogs in what they were bred for. The only comment I can make is about my 4Month old English Springer Spaniel. She was in the backyard playing- a large ?seagull took flight across my backyard. When it took flight, you could hear the wings flap. It went over my pup about 12 ft high. She went from a still position and flew straight upward. It was so fantastic because the dog went pretty high in relation to the bird. So my major thought was that this was definite proof the pup had this built in her.

So my feeling is yes- instincts in breed are a definite!!

Lukka'sma
August 8th, 2007, 02:45 PM
I also think that instinct is right up front and centre in the breeds.
Lukka is a flock guardian breed, and without going into a long post that most people don't care to read, I will just say that before the age of 1 she started to take her role very seriously.

OC_Spirit
August 8th, 2007, 03:08 PM
Yes sometimes the instinct kick in a little later. Like with your example of the APBT. There are cases of one livng happily in a multi-dog home and then one day when the dog is well iunto adulthood something triggers a fight and thats the end of his ability to coincide with other dogs.

The only Siberian Huskies I have had to actually teach how to pull are ones that were bred for the show ring. Those from working lines all I had to do was put them in a harness and hook them up with an experienced team and they picked it up on their own.

Like someone else already touched on, in general some instincts are breed specific but a lot of show breeders are ruining not just the dogs having the instinct, but conformationally ruining the ability forthe dog to perform the intended job well. For example, dogs with too heavy of bone (Sibes and Caucasians and Labs) dogs with sloping back (German Shepherd) or dogs with too short of legs (Rottweiler, Dacshund, BAsset Hound) the list goes on. The wierd thing is, the show ring is supposed to preserve the look of a breed and is supposed to prove that the dog has the looks to be worthy of breeding, yet todays show dogs (for the most part) look nothing like what the dog's breed did 30 years ago. For that you are better off to look at working-line dogs.

erykah1310
August 8th, 2007, 05:02 PM
So then I guess my next question is how "instictual" is this behavior?
And at what age should you start to see the behavior start to develop?
There isnt a set alarm clock in the dog, some show right away others may never show their instinct ( quite rare in a well bred working line)
If, for example, someone was to look at adopting a pitbull terrier, but wanted that dog to socialize well with other dogs, at what age would you be able to be "confident" that the new dog wouldn't be dog aggressive?
Actually with this breed among many others, such as Akitas, Karelians, Bull Terriers and so on. Being confident that your dog will do well with other dogs is an accident waiting to happen. Sure there always are the few who never have dog aggression issues but there are far more that do to ever IMO have confidence
I guess I was always under the impression that
a) all dogs behaviors were attributable to their masters, meaning that aggressive dogs were trained that way and loving dogs were trained that way
For the most part, ok. I have come across a few Vicious Golden Retrievers, Labs, Springer Spaniels among other breeds known for their "happy go lucky" personality with my work.
These particular dogs may have a) been treated very poorly or b) been bred out of lines with unstable temperments by millers or BYB's or even uneducated hobby breeders. So yes, for your first thought, your dog is in sorts a product of your stability and hard work as a trainer/owner, but there are some things you just cant train out of a breed.
and


Is it possible you could have a collie who is 1 or 2 years old who doesnt display any instictual behavior who begins trying to "herd" the animals in your house at 3 years old or have a doberman at 6 months of age who shows no guarding or aggression but at 2 starts showing more of his instictual aggressive behaviors?
Yup, sometimes even longer, it really depends. You can "curb" some instinctual behaviours with out even knowing it.
For example, if you have a BC ( sorry for using Border Collies all the time but this is the breed I screwed up badly with) who is active in agility from an early age, and you work with them regularly on non herding activities, there is a chance the BC may not have the desire to herd a flock of sheep if it came across it.
Thing is, dogs need jobs.... not only working breeds but all of them. If you leave a dog to come up with its own things to do, instict will take over.
Its nature vs nurture, no matter what the inherited tendancies are there and you can never fully block them, but it is possible to curb them.
Sorry for babbling.:shrug:

geoffh4
August 8th, 2007, 05:21 PM
OK, so let me be a little more direct in my questioning here.

I was asking all of these question to get an idea of what I can expect from a dog whose breed I am unfamiliar with and who is obviously a mix of a few different breeds. I originally didn't want to give specific details in order to prevent any people who feel very strongly about 1 breed or another from ruining the discussion, but the answers so far have left me with more questions than I started, so I want to divulge a little more.

I recently adopted a dog that was described as a "lab mix" from a local shelter. I specifically asked whether or not the shelter believed the dog had any of the aggressive breed dogs mixed in with lab, as they are "banned" from my living community (no rotts, pitts, doberman, shepherds, etc) The shelter told me that no, she was most likely a hound/pointer/lab mix.

I met her, grew attached, and decided to take her home. She is now 5 months old, and is very well behaved. She gets along well with my wife and I, the 2 cats we have, as well as the dogs in her obedience class. She has never shown any aggressive behaviors, although she will growl a little and bark at the outside.

So why am I posting this? Well, its been about 3 weeks now that we've had her, and everyday she looks more and more like she is a lab-pitbull mix. Obviously its impossible to tell, but there is definately something to me that says both of those breeds in her face and body. When we took her to the vet, both of the technicians said she was a lab hound mix, while the vet told us she was a lab pitbull mix. Like I said, there isnt a lot of consensus.

There is nothing in her behavior that would lead me to believe she will develop any "instictual" aggressive behaviors that are apparently "bred into" APBTs (as was discussed earlier). In fact, she seems slightly hesitant to approach the cats, and often rolls over onto her back when being introduced to a new dog.

However, many of you claimed that these instictual behaviors (aggression in APBT and their mixes) can be "triggered" unknowingly later in life, and a sweet dispositioned dog can go from family member to family attacker.

So (and this is an extremely important and serious question for me) what do you think I should do? Because we will probably be a multi dog family and because we also already have cats, the possibility of our dog "turning" instinctual and behaving the way it was bred for 100s of years to behave is not an option Im OK with.

At the same time, this dog, albeit only 5 months old, is very sociable, very good tempered, and even submissive around other dogs and cats. She is not a purebred anything. She probably has at least 2, and most likely 3 or 4 breeds in her.

We also take her for 2 walks per day and play with her outside. We have her in obedience school where she gets exposed to other dogs every Saturday.

According to what you have said above, dogs are instinctual in nature. They are likely to act and will probably revert at some point to their instinctual jobs, whether thats herding for BCs or fighting for APBTs. I did not know this until today, and thats why Im so concerned.

So please give me some well thought advice if you can! Thanks,

geoffh4
August 8th, 2007, 05:28 PM
PS: If dogs typically act instinctually at least some point in there lives, why aren't there more instances of pitbull dog aggression? Wouldn't it seem like ALL pits would attack at some point if this was true?

Same for the other aggressive breed dogs. Ive met plenty of friendly rotts, chows, etc

erykah1310
August 8th, 2007, 05:46 PM
PS: If dogs typically act instinctually at least some point in there lives, why aren't there more instances of pitbull dog aggression? Wouldn't it seem like ALL pits would attack at some point if this was true?

Same for the other aggressive breed dogs. Ive met plenty of friendly rotts, chows, etc

I'll take this one first...
You dont hear of it because who is to report it??? Dogs fighting other dogs equal in size in someones home dont make the front page.:shrug:
Its not to say that ALL will be dog aggressive, but usually there is a tendancy, many pit breeders and owners never recommend leaving this breed unattended with other dogs.....

Now for your other questions.

I met her, grew attached, and decided to take her home. She is now 5 months old, and is very well behaved. She gets along well with my wife and I, the 2 cats we have, as well as the dogs in her obedience class. She has never shown any aggressive behaviors, although she will growl a little and bark at the outside
Being that she is a mix and perhaps not even with pit, you cant say that she will become dog aggressive. Perhaps her temperment will be more like the lab?? perhaps the hound? By having her in Obedience classes and working really hard at socializing her with other dogs and people, you may be able to curb any tendancies she could have towards dog aggression in the event that she is mixed with "pit". However, being a probable Heinz 57 it opens a whole new world of possibilities.
For example, I had a Lab/Shep/Pit mix growing up. ( dad was pure lab) he was a great dog, couldnt ask for better. He was a "gentleman" around the dogs at camp, and was fairly easy to introduce to new dogs, even males ONLY if they never challenged him, The thing with Max, he would never go out looking for the fight, but he would never back down either.

However, many of you claimed that these instictual behaviors (aggression in APBT and their mixes) can be "triggered" unknowingly later in life, and a sweet dispositioned dog can go from family member to family attacker.
APBTs are not human aggressive, the reports we see on this is primarily due to the nurture aspect as apposed to the nature aspect.
I dont want to say " Dont worry too much about it your dog is a mix" but in a way I do want to say it.
As long as you take every step with socialization, proper humane treatment, love and care, Odds are your dog will be fine.
So (and this is an extremely important and serious question for me) what do you think I should do? Because we will probably be a multi dog family and because we also already have cats, the possibility of our dog "turning" instinctual and behaving the way it was bred for 100s of years to behave is not an option Im OK with.
Keep in mind your Heinz 57 was not bred any specific way for 100s of years, so its unfair to her to bunch her in with the purebreds who were.

Inverness
August 8th, 2007, 06:16 PM
PS: If dogs typically act instinctually at least some point in there lives, why aren't there more instances of pitbull dog aggression? Wouldn't it seem like ALL pits would attack at some point if this was true?



I wonder where you get your statistics from ? The fighting rings are full of pitbulls who do fight, and owners of companion APBT quite often have to deal with a certain degree of dog aggression. My APBT are all wonderful, but all have a potential to fight, ranging from very unlikely to killing machine. Maybe you don't see pitbulls fighting around you because their owners manage them properly ?

When you speak of pitbull mixes, it is very hard to know how much of each breed's characteristics the dog has retained. Which is why it is not uncommon to see a pitbull mix with no dog aggression whatsoever, and another one who just cannot be trusted around other dogs. Most pitbulls show their adult behaviour at around 2 years of age. You have plenty of time to watch your little dog and see how she turns out. As you said, she might even not have a drop of blood coming from a pitbull...

In all cases, the work and socialization you put in the dog certainly helps. If you know you have a dog coming from fighting lines, you know what you are getting into. And when you just don't know, well you have to learn to read your dog. Give her a chance to prove she is as good as she seems to be.

As for your original instinct question, no matter how hard you try and keep your dog away from what it was originally bred for, there is still many, many generations of breeding aiming at a certain behaviour. You cannot assume it is not there just because it was never stimulated. My Pointers all have the potential to kill my cats although they have been raised around them. I don't think I'll ever trust them completely. Not even the ones who appear completely harmless.

LavenderRott
August 8th, 2007, 06:30 PM
First off - let's square this away: Dogs do not SUDDENLY turn "instinctual" and start attacking other people and other dogs. In ALL instances there are warning signs. The trick is to see them.

"Pit bulls" from stable lines that are properly trained and socialized are less likely to attack then "pit bulls" from parents who are chained to a dog house in the backyard.

Whether or not a dog acts on it's instincts depends, in large part, on the parents and lineage of the dog. I knew a lovely collie once who couldn't have herded a sheep if her life depended on it. Heck, she couldn't walk across a room without someone holding her collar!! I had one of her pups and she couldn't have herded a sheep either.

BSL is just what it says - Bull Sh## Legislation. Designed to make voters think that politicians are takin their concerns seriously. Less then 1% of the population of dogs (of any breed) are involved in bite incidents. I have attended functions with close to 50 rottweilers in an enclosed area and never heard so much as a growl. As a matter of fact, most of those dogs took and passed their CGC test that day. (CGC - Canine Good Citizen - which includes greeting a strange dog.)

I have seen the pictures of your pup. Personally, I am not seeing anything that would be of a concern to me. Socialize your pup - take her everywhere you possibly can and take her to obedience classes until she is two. (Most people who train feel that puppy kindergarten, basic obedience and an advanced obedience class are necessities.) Then, just make sure you are consistant and fair and you should be fine. Life does not have to be a boot camp but you should require good manners ie: sitting for food, waiting to go out the door, waiting for a command to get in and out of the car - things along that line.